Jeff Bezos: The Man Behind Amazon.com
This world is blessed with some really great masterminds, the absence of which would never have made our life so much easier. One such mastermind is Jeff Bezos. Imagine life without Amazon.com today and you are sure to shrug off that thought. Because Jeff Bezos was born, Amazon.com was born. A key player in the growth and expansion of e-commerce, Jeff Bezos is a person who is lauded today widely for his immense contribution to the world of the internet. He is rightly termed as an entrepreneur and an e-commerce pioneer, and a revolutionary figure who changed the face of the internet. His contribution does not end merely at conquering the internet. His interest also centers on space travel and he wishes to build a human colony in space. A man with such daring ambitions and such phenomenal imagination certainly is a gift to us.
Early Life and Education
January, 12, 1964 saw the birth of Bezos in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was named Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen and was born to teenage parents, Jacklyn and Ted Jorgensen. Their marriage did not last long and when Jeff was only four, his mother remarried Miguel Bezos, a Cuban immigrant to the United States. As a child Bezos spent many a summer at his grandfather’s ranch near Cotulla “laying pipe, vaccinating cattle and fixing windmills.” His maternal grandfather happened to be the regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Albuquerque.
His striking mechanical aptitude was apparent from a very young age and as a toddler he was said to have even tried dismantling his crib. After his mother’s marriage to Miguel, the family shifted to Houston, Texas where Miguel worked as an engineer for Exxon. Bezos attended the River Oaks Elementary School in Houston and studied from fourth through sixth grade. His immense interest in science and technology surfaced around this time and he even made an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings away from his room. He even turned his parents’ garage into a laboratory due to his profound interest in how things work.
Eventually the family moved to Miami, Florida. He attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School and whilst here, he went to the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida. He was awarded the Silver Knight Award in the year 1982. He became a high school valedictorian and a National Merit Scholar. While in high school, he took his first step into the business world and launched an educational summer camp for fourth, fifth and sixth graders named Dream Institute. He initially intended to study Physics but his love for computers made him opt for electrical engineering and computer science. In 1986, he graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Post his graduation from Princeton in the year 1986, Bezos worked in several prestigious firms located on Wall Street. He worked at Fitel, where he helped build a network for international trade. He then started working at Bankers Trust and went on to work at D.E. Shaw & Co., an investment firm. At Shaw, he quickly rose up the ladder of success and soon went on to become a senior vice president. His career in finance was lucrative and he had hoped to build his future in this field. A discovery on the rising popularity of the internet made him change the course of his career. He discovered that the usage of the internet was on the rise by 2, 300 percent a year and he saw it as an opportunity to change the business scenario.
He took the leap, choosing to make a risky move into the raw world of e-commerce. He moved to Seattle after quitting his high-profile job at Shaw in 1994. It was during the cross-country drive from New York to Seattle that Bezos formulated the Amazon business plan.
With the help of some initial cash from his friends and family, Bezos started Amazon from his garage with a few employees. The operation was expanded across a two-bedroom house where three Sun Microstations were set up. A test site was eventually developed and Bezos invited around 300 friends to beta test the site. Amazon.com was launched and on July 16, 1995, Bezos opened it to the world. He told his 300 beta testers to make it known to the people.
The business soared faster than Bezos or his employees had ever imagined. Within 30 days without the help of any press, Amazon sold books across 50 states and across 45 foreign countries. By the end of September, the sale went up to $20, 000 a week. The site was continually improved and new features were added such as customer reviews, one-click shopping, order verification through emails etc. Amazon.com went public in the year 1997.
Bezos diversified the world of Amazon.com and started selling CDs, videos and later clothes, sporting goods, electronics, toys etc. Within a short span of time, Amazon boomed and his sale jumped from $510, 000 in the year 1995 to over $17 billion in the year 2011. Its shares rose by 70% in 2011 adding $6.5 billion to the net worth of Bezos. His innovations did not end here merely. In the year 2007, he introduced an electronic reading device, which we today know as Kindle. Using the technology of “E Ink,” the device enables user to download and read complete books anywhere and anytime. It also enables users to store hundreds of books and documents. The year saw an increase in the popularity of Amazon which doubled its profits.
By the middle of the year 2010, the sale of Kindle and e-books rose to $2.38 billion. Jeff Bezos has indeed changed the way we buy books and with the launch of such handheld devices like Kindle, he is changing the way we read too. In the year 2011, the Kindle Fire was introduced. It is a mini-tablet computer, a color touchscreen device. Soon the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire HD were launched. In an interview to ABC News, he has stated, “We haven’t built the best tablet at a certain price. We have built the best tablet at any price,”
His attention to business details endears him to others. In the words of Portfolio.com, he “is at once a happy-go-lucky mogul and a notorious micromanager: “an executive who wants to know about everything from contract minutiae to how he is quoted in all Amazon press releases.”
Amazon’s success paved the way for him to fulfill his dream interest in space travel. He launched the aerospace company, Blue Origin. It is basically a human spaceflight startup company with the aim to help “anybody to go into space” and to decrease the cost of spaceflight along with increasing the safety. Bezos’s ultimate goal here was to establish a permanent place for humans in the outer space. This project was a well-kept secret for years and became public only in 2006.
A profile published in 2013 contained his interview in which he had stated that “he wanted to build space hotels, amusement parks and colonies for 2 million or 3 million people who would be in orbit.’The whole idea is to preserve the earth,’ he told one of the newspapers.“The goal was to be able to evacuate humans. The planet would become a park.”
Buying the Washington Post
Jeff Bezos raised many eyebrows when he purchased “The Washington Post” for $250 million in cash. The announcement was made on August 5, 2013. In addition to “The Washington Post,” the sale was inclusive of a number of local newspapers in the Washington, D.C. area. He stated that the sale was personal and had nothing to do with Amazon. The newspaper was under the control of the Graham family and the deal brought an end to Graham’s four-generation reign.
Amazon Prime Air is a new experimental initiative by Amazon announced in early December 2013. It involved the use of Drones that can be remotely controlled to perform a wide array of human tasks like delivery services. The drones have a capacity to carry items that weighs up to five pounds and can travel a distance of 10 mile from the company’s distribution center. Bezos is of the opinion that Prime Air will soon go on to become a reality in as little as four to five years.
Jeff Bezos met his wife Mackenzie, a Princeton graduate at D. E. Shaw. The couple has four children that include their adopted daughter from China.
Bezos is widely recognized for his immense contribution to the internet sphere. Under Time magazine he was named ‘Person of the Year’ in 1999. He was declared one of America’s best leaders by U. S. News & World Report. In 2008, the Carnegie Mellon University conferred him an honorary doctorate in the field of Science and Technology. The Economist in 2011 bestowed on Bezos and Gregg Zehr the Innovation Award for Amazon Kindle. He was declared Businessperson of The Year by Fortune in 2012.
He is a member of the Bilderberg Group, and also the member of the Executive Committee of The Business Council for the year 2011 and 2012. As of July 2014, Bezos occupied the 17th position in the World’s Billionaires list released by Forbes’s.
|Full Name||Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen|
|Born||January 12, 1964 (age 51)|
|Place of Birth||Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.|
|Profession||Founder Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com
Founder of Blue Origin
|Father||Ted Jorgensen (Biological Father)
Miguel Bezos (Step Father)
|Schooling||River Oaks Elementary School, Miami Palmetto Senior High School|
|Net Worth||US$ 34.8 billion (March 2015)|
|Recognition||Time: Person of the Year (1999)
Fortune: Business of the Year (2012)
Forbes, The World’s Billionaires List: 17th Wealthiest Person (2014)
References : Biography.com