Jeff Bezos is the CEO and founder of Amazon, the world’s largest retailer. He owns 16% of the company, and as of November 2018, Jeff remains the richest man alive.
In 2018 he became the world’s first centre-billionaire as well as the only person to surpass the $150 billion mark in net worth, since Forbes started tracking the wealthiest Americans over 30 years ago. But how did it all start for the man who literally has the whole world at his feet?
A Humble Beginning
Jeff was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to a teenage mother (who was still a high school student) and a Chicago native father, who was a bike shop owner. He was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen, and only acquired the surname ‘Bezos’ after his mother divorced and remarried in 1968. His family moved to Houston, Texas, where his stepfather worked for Exxon.
Jeff attended River Oaks Elementary School, and later Miami Palmetto High School after his family moved to Miami, Florida. Bezos always had a knack for science and technology; while he was still a youngster, he once manipulated an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings away from his room.
This continued in high school where he received the Silver Knight Award after attending the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida in 1982. It was also in high school that he started his first venture, the Dream Institute, which offered educational summer camps for students.
In 1986, Jeff graduated from Princeton University with a 4.2-grade point average and Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and computer science. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
After graduating from Princeton, Jeff worked at a telecommunications start-up, Fitel, where he helped build a network for international trade; he then moved to banking, where he worked at Bankers Trust as a product manager until 1990. His final employment was at a hedge fund, D. E. Shaw & Co., where he worked until 1994.
The Birth of Amazon
It was after this job that Jeff started Amazon, initially only an online bookstore, but now the world’s largest e-commerce and cloud computing company, both in revenue and market capitalisation.
Jeff alone has played an influential role in the development and growth of e-commerce. It seems as though Bezos is not about to stop changing the world, or is it the universe? His other company, Blue Origin, is developing reusable rockets which will take passengers for space exploration, or simply just for tourism.
Success at Last
But how did he do it? By his own words, Jeff once said that the reason for Amazon’s success was: ‘Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.’ Jeff adheres religiously to the ‘customer is king’ philosophy. His obsession with the customer experience, from the onset of Amazon, led to the company to identify that customers dislike delays, out of stock products and defects.
All the success Amazon has achieved is because these problems are continually being tackled, right down to the smallest detail. The tackling of these problems has also guided the innovation and invention philosophy of the company.
Amazon has always been an innovative company and had recently started making deliveries in some areas, using smart drones. If it will help the customer, then it is worth pursuing.
A Safe Bet
Jeff has always advocated for patience when pursuing success and excellence. And indeed, good things come to those who wait. Amazon has been a patient company from the start, surviving the dot-com crash of the late 90s, and even sacrificing dividend payouts to shareholders to invest in market expansion and domination.
It is the same patience that Jeff has displayed in his other companies: The Washington Post, in its quest to be the authoritative political media house, and Blue Origin, in its mission to explore and colonise space. Like it was with Amazon, it would be unwise to even dare to bet against Jeff Bezos.