Jeffrey Preston Bezos, also known by his birth name Jorgensen, is an American entrepreneur, media mogul, investor, and commercial astronaut. He founded Amazon and previously served as its president and CEO and is currently the company’s executive chairman.
Born on January 12, 1964, Jeffrey Preston Jørgensen was the son of Jacklyn and Theodore Jørgensen, who were 17 and 19 years old respectively at the time of his birth. Jørgensen was of Danish American descent and was born in Chicago to a family of Baptists.
Bezos’ mother completed high school while taking care of him as a baby and attending night school. When Bezos was two, he attended a Montessori school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After his parents’ divorce, his mother married Miguel “Mike” Bezos, a Cuban immigrant, and the family moved to Houston, Texas, where Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary School from fourth to sixth grade.
Bezos’ grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gise, was a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Albuquerque, and Bezos spent many summers on his family’s ranch in Cotulla, Texas. Bezos was interested in science and technology from a young age, and even rigged an electric alarm to keep his siblings out of his room. The family later moved to Miami, Florida, where Bezos attended Miami Palmetto High School and worked as a short-order line cook at McDonald’s during the breakfast shift.
Bezos was an exceptional student and attended the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida. He was his high school’s valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar, and a Silver Knight Award winner in 1982. In his graduation speech, Bezos expressed his dream of colonizing space and creating a national park on Earth.
In 1986, he graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in electrical engineering and computer science, summa cum laude, and a GPA of 4.2. While at Princeton, Bezos was a member of the Quadrangle Club and was elected to Tau Beta Pi. He was also the president of the Princeton chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.
Upon completing his undergraduate degree in 1986, Bezos received multiple job offers from companies such as Intel, Bell Labs, and Andersen Consulting. He ultimately chose to work for a fintech telecommunications start-up called Fitel, where he was responsible for constructing an international trade network. After demonstrating his abilities, Bezos was promoted to head of development and director of customer service at Fitel.
He later transitioned into the banking industry, serving as a product manager at Bankers Trust from 1988 to 1990. Following this, Bezos became an employee of D. E. Shaw & Co, a newly established hedge fund with a strong emphasis on mathematical modelling, where he worked from 1990 to 1994. By the time he turned 30, Bezos had become the fourth senior vice-president at D. E. Shaw.
After learning that the internet was expanding at an extraordinary rate of 2300% per year, Bezos was inspired to create an online bookstore in late 1993. Together with his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, they left their jobs at D. E. Shaw to start Amazon in a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington on July 5, 1994. They wrote Amazon’s business plan during a cross-country drive from New York City to Seattle.
Scott played an essential role in the company’s operations by writing checks, keeping track of the books, and negotiating Amazon’s first freight contracts. Bezos had initially considered establishing the company on an Indian reservation near San Francisco to avoid paying taxes before settling on Seattle. He named the company Cadabra at first but later changed it to Amazon, after the Amazon River in South America.
To ensure that it appeared first in website listings, which were alphabetized at the time, he accepted around $300,000 from his parents as an investment in Amazon and cautioned early investors that the company had a 70% chance of failing or going bankrupt.
Although Amazon was initially an online bookstore, Bezos always intended to expand its offerings to other products. Three years after its inception, Bezos took Amazon public with an IPO. Despite negative reports from Fortune and Barron’s, Bezos remained optimistic that the internet’s growth would surpass competition from larger book retailers such as Borders and Barnes & Noble.
In 1998, Bezos expanded Amazon’s product offerings beyond books to include music and video, and eventually, other consumer goods. To fund aggressive acquisition of smaller competitors, Bezos used $54 million raised in the company’s 1997 equity offering. As Amazon’s cash balances dipped to $350 million, Bezos borrowed $2 billion from banks in 2000.
In 2002, Bezos launched Amazon Web Services, which compiled data from various sources, including weather channels and website traffic. However, Amazon’s rapid spending caused financial distress when revenues stagnated. After closing distribution centers and laying off 14% of the workforce, Amazon rebounded and turned a profit of $400 million in 2003.
In 2007, Bezos launched the Amazon Kindle, aiming to create a device that provided a “flow state” in reading similar to the experience of video games. In 2013, Bezos secured a $600-million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on behalf of Amazon Web Services. By October of the same year, Amazon was recognized as the largest online shopping retailer in the world.
As of March 2023, his net worth is an estimated $118 billion, making him the third-wealthiest person in the world. He was the wealthiest person in the world from 2017 to 2021.
Jeff Bezos has received several awards and recognitions for his achievements, some of which are:
Jeff Bezos has several social media accounts. However, it's worth noting that he's not particularly active on them, and they're mostly used for business and promotional purposes.