In a world where technology was rapidly advancing and the internet was still in its infancy, one man had a vision that would change the way we shop forever. This man is Jeff Bezos.
Working out of a garage at his family home, to the creation of one of the most successful companies in history, this is the story of Jeff Bezos, the man who revolutionized e-commerce and built a business empire.
Jeff Bezos was born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to his then-teenage mother Jacklyn Jorgensen, and his father a Danish American named Ted Jorgensen.
His father was a 19-year-old circus performer who grew up in a family of Baptists while his mother was a struggling 17 years old who would often attend nights schools with Jeff. As you can imagine raising Jeff at a young age was challenging for both his parents.
Sadly, a year after he was born his parents divorced and he lost contact with his father who he hasn’t spoken to since. Soon after, his mother married Cuban native Michael Bezos who would ultimately be one of the main drivers of Jeff’s ambitions and would go on to adopt Jeff at age four.
From that point onwards he would take his father’s last name and be known as Jeff Bezos. Growing up Jeff developed an early interest in technology and science.
He enjoyed taking things apart to see how they worked and building his projects, including building a network of electronics in his family’s garage and turning it into a science lab.
He even took his crib apart with a screwdriver when he was just a toddler so he was certainly a fast learner. Jeff would later move to Miami Florida where he would attend Miami Palmetto high school.
Although he worked as a line cook at the local McDonald’s his ambitions would continue to develop during his youth.
During high school, he would start his own business known as the Dream Institute which was a summer camp that promoted creative learning for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders.
These early experiences laid the foundation for his future success as a technology entrepreneur. After graduating from high school, Bezos attended Princeton University and earned degrees in electrical engineering and computer science.
While at Princeton, Bezos was a member of the Quadrangle Club and the Student Activities Committee. After graduating in 1986, Bezos turned down several notable job offers including Intel to join a fiber optic startup known as Fitel.
At Fitel Jeff would develop the computer network for its international finance system.
However, that didn’t last long. Just a few years later in 1990, he would move on to the Wall Street investment firm D.E Shaw & company as a computer scientist where he would quickly climb the ranks.
During his stint at D.E. Shaw, Jeff would meet and form a romantic relationship with a research associate known as MacKenzie and they married in 1993 and would later have four children together.
At just age 28 Jeff would become the youngest-ever vice president at the firm. Although he was enjoying a meteoric rise in his career this was not enough for Jeff and he would strive for more.
During this time he was becoming increasingly curious about the internet after reading it was increasing annually at over 2300%.
Armed with a generous $300,000 investment from his parents. In 1994, Bezos made the bold decision to quit his job on Wall Street and move to Bellevue Washington where he launched Amazon from the confines of a rented garage.
Starting exclusively as an online bookstore it was a significant risk, at the time. The internet was still a relatively new technology, and most people did not yet have access to it.
But, Jeff was convinced that the internet had the potential to change the way people shop allowing easy access to a wide variety of books with much lower prices and faster delivery times.
Despite initial skepticism from investors, Bezos was able to raise enough money to launch Amazon in July 1995. In just two months sales were at $20,000 per week across 46 countries.
Although the company started as an online bookstore it quickly expanded to sell a wide variety of products including music and video in 1998.
On May 15, 1997, Amazon would go public at a price of $18,00 raising $54 million at a market value of $438 million. By the end of the 1990s, Amazon had become one of the largest and most successful e-commerce companies in the world.
Like most other companies. Amazon was hit by the dot com crash and suffered a 90% crash in stock price and the laying off of 14% of its work force.
But it managed to survive and throughout the 2000s it continued to expand offering consumer electronics and Apparel. In 2007 it launched its first kindle device, a small electric reading device that would become an instant success.
Just three years later kindle book sales surpassed hardcover book sales.
In 2013, Jeff acquired The Washington Post, one of the most well-known and respected newspapers in the United States. He has invested heavily in the newspaper, and under his ownership, it has undergone a digital transformation and expanded its online presence.
Ultimately, Jeff’s leadership and vision have been the driving force behind Amazon’s growth and success. He has been instrumental in the company’s expansion into new markets and has overseen the development of new technologies, such as the Kindle e-reader and the Echo smart speaker.
Under his leadership, Amazon has also ventured into new industries such as cloud computing, advertising, and healthcare. Now Amazon is the fifth largest company in the world by market cap with an annual revenue of $469,000 million.
However, Jeff’s leadership style is controversial, and he is known to be a demanding boss. He has been criticized for Amazon’s working conditions, such as long hours, as well as for the company’s aggressive business practices.
Sadly, in 2019 he divorced his wife of over 20 years Mackenzie, this was after a reported affair with media personality Lauren Sanchez. As a result, Jeff was left with a $36 billion settlement. Ouch.
In addition to his work at Amazon and The Washington Post, Bezos is also the founder and CEO of Blue Origin, a space exploration company.
He is a proponent of space colonization and has invested billions of dollars of his fortune into the development of reusable rockets and spacecraft.
Jeff is one of the wealthiest people in the world, with a net worth that is estimated to be over $180 billion. He is known for his philanthropy and has donated millions of dollars to charitable causes through the Bezos Family Foundation and other organizations.
Jeff stepped down as Amazon CEO on July 5 2021 and instead focuses on Blue Origin, his family, and philanthropy. Thanks for reading.