The success we know as Jeff Bezos today, came from very humble beginnings. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 12th 1964, to 17 year old Jacklyn and a father he would never meet. From a young age Bezos demonstrated a keen interest in science and technologies, and he would later graduate from the prestigious Princeton University with a 4.2 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in electrical engineering and computer science.
Bezos graduated Princeton in 1986, and began working for Fitel, a fintech telecommunications start-up. Between the years 1988-1990, Bezos became a product manager at Bankers Trust. Bezos then joined a newly founded hedge fund called D. E. Shaw & Co in 1990 where he worked until 1994, which at just the age of 30, he chaired as senior-vice president.
It was during research in 1994 that Bezos was exploring new ventures for D. E. Shaw & Co to invest him, when he stumbled across a statistic stating that usage of the World Wide Web was increasing by 2.300% a month. Immediately, recognizing the opportunities of selling online that coincided with the recent US Supreme Court ruling holding that mail orders were not required to collect sale taxes in states where they lacked physical presence, Bezos started exploring how he could develop an online business. After some thought and consideration, Bezos decided that he would create what would boast to be “Earth’s Biggest Book Store”. He promptly quit his six-figure job, even passing up on fat bonus; and moved with his wife and dog from New York to Seattle, and founded Amazon.com. With the investment of $1 million from friends and family, 5 employees and a garage of a rented house, Bezos would spend the next year exploring and learning how to source books, and how to create an easy to navigate website for Amazon.
In July 1995, Amazon.com became live, and its success was immediate. Over the next three years, Amazon.com would experience rapid company growth; from a company with 100 employees and $15.7 million of sales turnover, to a company contracting over 3000 employees and turning over more than $610 million.
Although sales were increasing by 3000% annually, and they had become the country’s third largest bookseller, they were yet to profit. In fact, Amazon.com lost over $30 million between 1997 and 1998 as a result of the Dotcom Bubble Burst – in fact, Amazon was one of the few companies to survive. During this period of time, Bezos understood that to profit from Amazon would have been a bad decision. Instead, he saw it was critical to reinvest into Amazon’s brand and therefore the majority of businesses revenues were spent on marketing and promotion in order to establish brand-name recognition. Amazon survived the devastating Dot-Com Bubble Burst and Bezos’s plans and determination to make Amazon.com the most customer-centric company in the world commenced.
Amazon observed rapid growth, and soon began to offer music, gifts and pharmacy etc. Perhaps what saved Amazon during the Dotcom Bubble Burst, was partnering with Sotheby’s Holding Inc in June 1999, launching the initial premise of Amazon Marketplace, the then sothebys.amazon.com.
By 2004, approximately 60% of households in the US had internet access, and Amazon had become the number one internet sensation. Almost anything could be bought on Amazon. Amazon was in an incredibly unique position that allowed it to capitalize on online shopping, unbothered by unmatched competitors.
In 2021, Jeff Bezos is number one on Forbes “The Richest People in the World” List, with an unfathomable $177 billion net worth to his name. On July 5th 2021, Bezos resigned from his post as CEO of Amazon, 27 years since the day it launched.
Bezos has created the most successful online shopping enterprise to date, and along the way, has pioneered the eBook industry; introducing the Amazon Kindle back in 2004. In 2007, Bezos offered online shoppers Amazon Prime delivery service, making online shopping perhaps more convenient and as instant as needing to ‘pop to the shops’ tomorrow. Bezos in recent years, has even gone one step further (and arguably one step too far), not only delivering Groceries, but also opening up cashier-less grocers under the name of Amazon Fresh, which has been received both positively and negatively.