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Jeff Bezos Biography – How he started Amazon and more

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Jeff Bezos



Amazon

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

The king of e-commerce

Founder of Amazon.com

Founded: 1995

“Our vision is to be the world’s most consumer-oriented company, where customers can find everything they want to buy online.”- Jeff Bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the second richest person in the world after Tesla founder Elon Musk. While Amazon and Bezos are household names with his various other business endeavors, including sending William Shatner and Michael Strahan to space on its suborbital spaceflight service Blue Origin, Amazon’s former CEO came from humble beginnings.

Bezos’ father, Miguel Bezos, even migrated from Cuba to the United States, which had a major impact on his son’s entrepreneurial spirit. Working with the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, Bezos honored his father at the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Awards in 2022, explaining, “He didn’t speak English, he had to find his way,” during the event. “He had those difficult experiences. I think in every immigrant you will find a deep optimism and also a deep resilience.”

As the child of an immigrant, Bezos’ success is an American dream. Keep scrolling to learn more about how Bezos made Amazon what it is today.

How did Jeff Bezos get started with Amazon?

In 1994, Amazon’s former CEO, Jeff Bezos, was already exceedingly successful by most people’s standards. The Youngest Ever Senior Vice President at Wall Street Investment Bank DE Shaw & Co. , the then 30-year-old Princeton University graduate was already earning an estimated six-figure salary and was destined to rise even further in the company’s ranks. But Bezos had other plans.

Fueled by a secret passion for the fledgling electronic retail industry, Bezos dreamed of starting his own company in the vast, then virtually unknown wilderness of the World Wide Web. It was a risky move, but it quickly paid off. Just four years after Bezos founded Amazon.com, the virtual bookstore became the template for how e-commerce businesses should be run, with revenues exceeding $610 million and more than 13 million customers worldwide.

Bezos first got the idea to start an Internet business in 1994. While surfing the Internet looking for new ventures for DE Shaw to invest in, he came across a statistic that usage of the World Wide Web was growing at 2,300 percent per month. Immediately recognizing the vast possibilities of online selling, Bezos began to explore the entrepreneurial potential of developing an Internet business.

He listed 20 potential products that he thought would sell well over the Internet, including software, CDs, and books. After studying the list, books were the obvious choice, mainly because of the sheer number of titles out there. Bezos realized that while even the largest superstores could only stock a few hundred thousand books, only a fraction of what is available, a “virtual” bookstore could offer millions of titles. The die is cast. Leaving a big bonus, Bezos grabbed his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, and their dog, Kamala (named after an obscure “Star Trek” character), and headed for Seattle.

For Bezos, Seattle was the ideal city for his new business. Not only was it home to a huge pool of high-tech talent, it was also close to the Ingram Book Group’s warehouse in Oregon. While MacKenzie was driving, Jeff spent the trip figuring out a business plan on a laptop and calling potential investors on a cell phone. With $1 million raised from family and friends, Bezos rented a house in Seattle and set up his business in the garage.

For nearly a year, Bezos and a team of five employees worked out of the garage, learning how to search for books, and setting up a computer system that would make Amazon.com easy to navigate. A true marketing visionary, in addition to creating an easy-to-use interface that streamlines the “needle in a haystack” process often associated with bookstore shopping, Bezos wanted to create a “virtual community” for visitors to “hang out.” To achieve this goal, he and his team created a number of innovative programs, including one that allows customers to add their own book reviews to the site and a feature that recommends books based on a customer’s previous purchases.

In July 1995, Amazon.com opened its virtual doors, calling itself “the largest bookstore on Earth”, with over 1 million titles to choose from. Fueled by word of mouth, or rather word of email, Amazon.com shot off the line like a nitro-burning dragster. Delighted by the huge selection of books, superior customer service and user-friendly design of the site, Internet users ecstatically stopped Amazon.com from Internet newsgroups and mailing lists.

Orders poured in, and by September 1996 Amazon.com had grown to a 100-employee company with sales of more than $15.7 million. Three years later, those numbers would rise to more than 3,000 employees (including some in Britain and Germany) and sales of more than $610 million.

Amazon’s success did not go unnoticed by bookselling giant Barnes & Noble, who soon set up their own website. To counter Amazon’s claim that it was “the greatest bookstore on the planet,” Barnes & Noble launched an aggressive marketing campaign announcing that they were offering twice as many books as Amazon. But it was a doomed strategy. The forward-thinking Bezos had already expanded Amazon’s product line to include CDs, replacing “Earth’s Biggest Book Store” with the tagline “Books, Music and More,” leading Barnes & Noble, as one writer put it, “to put its fingers around the neck of a phantom.”

While Amazon has left its closest competitor in the dust, the company has set its sights on taking the entire online retail business by storm. In 2019, Amazon was believed to control 37% of all online retail sales, thanks to the company’s relentless expansion and acquisition strategy. In late January 1999, Amazon went after the $150 billion US pharmacy market, buying a share of Drugstore.com, a company that sells everything from mints to Viagra online. Since then, they have increased their footprint in the healthcare world. In 2018, Amazon acquired PillPack, an online full-service pharmacy. Plus, in addition to Amazon’s continued expansion, Bezos also launched Amazon Web Services that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms, and he owns The Washington Post and many other business endeavors.

How Much of Amazon Does Jeff Bezos Own?

The Amazon employee, who previously owned 16 percent of the company, sold $8.8 billion in Amazon stock after stepping back as Amazon CEO in July 2021 to become executive chairman. Despite currently owning less than 10 percent of the company, his net worth is estimated to be a staggering $171 billion, per Forbes.

Before leaving his position as CEO, Bezos went through a very public divorce in 2019 with his now ex-wife MacKenzie Scott. After 25 years of marriage, MacKenzie received 4 percent from Amazon in the $38 billion settlement. Since their split, MacKenzie married school teacher Dan Jewett in Seattle in March 2021, while the Amazon founder has been in a relationship with girlfriend Lauren Sanchez since 2019.

What is Jeff Bezos doing now?

Now that he has more time to spare, Bezos is naturally philanthropic thanks to his Bezos Family Foundationhowever, he is still very much involved in the criticism rich companies like his garner have on the corporate tax issue.

President Joe Biden criticized organizations like his on Twitter as inflation tensions mounted. “Do you want to cut inflation? Let’s make sure the richest companies pay their fair share,” President Biden tweeted on May 13, 2022, to which Bezos replied: “Raising corporate taxes is a good thing to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Putting them together is just deception.”

While Amazon didn’t pay federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018, Bezos doesn’t think big business is responsible for inflation. “They know that inflation hurts the most needy the most. But unions don’t cause inflation, and neither do rich people,” Bezos added in response to the White House and Biden administrations.

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Shreya Christinahttps://businesstraverse.com
Shreya has been with businesstraverse.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesstraverse.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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