Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon
Who doesn’t know Jeff Bezos, he is the CEO of the biggest eCommerce giant – Amazon. He is an American billionaire entrepreneur and a philanthropist. Jeff created Amazon in 1994 intending to sell books. Now, it’s one of the largest eCommerce companies in the world.
Geek’s life is always amazing, let’s have a sneak peek inside the life and see how the Amazon was created.
◼️ Early life and College Life
Jeff was born on January 12th, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His real name is Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen. Jorgensen was his last name as he was born to Ted Jorgensen and Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen. Ted was a bike shop owner whereas his mother was just a high school girl (yes, you read it right). Did you know his mother was a 17-year old girl when she gave birth to Jeff? She got married earlier than that.
Later on, his parents got divorced and his mother married Miguel aka Mike Bezos (who was a Cuban immigrant). That’s when his surname was changed to Bezos. At that time, Jeff was only 4 years old. This solves the mysterious question that many people had in their mind – Is Jeff Bezos adopted? His faster (Mike) adopted his mother's first child (Jeff).
He did his schooling in River Oaks Elementary school which was in Houston. After sixth grade, he shifted to Miami palmetto high school. He got his electrical engineering degree and computer science from Princeton University. He got his degree in 1986. Unlike most of the billionaires, Jeff was not a college dropout. Instead, he has a very good GPA in college life. He was also a member of the Quadrangle Club in Princeton. Before that, he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Right after he got his degree, he got many job offers. Some of the well-known companies that wanted to hire Jeff include Intel, Bell Labs, as well as Andersen Consulting. Not to mention, there were many other companies. Jeff chose to work with Fitel start-up instead of others. It was a fintech telecommunication company. The main role of Jeff was to build a network for international trade. He was good at this. That’s where he got promoted.
However, he shifted to Bankers Trust where he was a product manager. The year when he started working at Bankers Trust was 1988 and he continued to work there for two years straight.
Of course, you guess it right. He changed his job after that. There was a new Hedge fund which had a very strong fundamental. Therefore, Jeff joined it. The fund was D.E. Shaw and Company. He worked here for 4 years. He was good at this work too. Therefore, by the time he was 30 (4 years at work), he became 4th Senior vice president.
Thereafter, he did exactly what a crazy entrepreneur does. Yes, he left the job. A year before leaving the D.E Shaw, he had a thought of creating an online book store. That’s when he left the job and thought of creating Amazon. That’s where the real Geek life begins.
After college, he also worked at wall street. While growing up, he used to work on his grandfather’s ranch repairing Caterpillar tractors.
◼️ Early-stage of Amazon
If you are thinking that he got the name Amazon from the forest or the river, then you are right. He named his company Amazon after the Amazon River in South America.
Want to hear one more fact? Amazon was NOT the initial name of the company. Before changing the name to Amazon, Jeff had earlier named his startup Cadabra. As you might have guessed, it was taken from the magical phrase “Abra Cadabra”. He kept it because the initial of the company was the first letter of Alphabet. The company was founded in a garage in Seattle. The date was July 5th, 1994.
He got the initial funding from his parents which was roughly $300,000. Later on, there were many investors in the company. Jeff told all the investors that there was a flat 70% chance that the company would fail or simply go bankrupt. Despite the warning, many of them stayed there.
This is how Amazon started as an online book store. The founder always thought of expanding the business to other products along with books. So, this was always in the mind.
After running it for 3 years, Jeff was all set to launch the IPO. Unfortunately, he got many backlashes from Fortune, Barron’s, and many others. However, they were eventually provided wrong. After 1 year of IPO, Jeff included music and videos.
Later on, Jeff started scaling up the eCommerce giant. What this, popularity also started increasing.
◼️ The Success of Amazon
Today, it is one of the largest eCommerce websites out there. According to a survey, 89% of people will prefer Amazon over any other platform. There are more than 150 Million Prime users (we are not even taking new users and regular users into consideration). It all started with books. Today, more than 44% of Americans have purchased electronic items from Amazon. Currently, he owns an 11.1% stake in Amazon.
Amazon now offers its services to various countries and in some products, international shipping is also available.
There are many subsidiaries owned by Amazon. Amazon is now spread in every possible industry. Starting from cloud services (AWS) to the app market (Amazon App Store). Amazon is still expanding the business in every possible way they can. The prime access allows you to access many of these premium services. Whereas, half of the services work as an individual subsidiary.
Amazon started as an online book store and now it has many subsidiaries that are compiled based on books. For example, they have got Audible which is an audiobook platform and they also have Kindle (and Kindle store) which is for eBooks. In the same way, they also own Goodreads which is a community for book lovers. There are more than 40 subsidiaries of Amazon.
◼️ Net worth and Wealth
Jeff became a millionaire in 1997. That was the same year when Amazon raised money with the help of IPO (Initial Public Offering). By the end of 1999, he is net worth was 10.1 billion dollars. However, it declined over the next few years. In 2002, his net worth was only 1.5 billion dollars. That was a huge drop in 3 years. However, Jeff continued to work with the vision, and his net worth umped 66.6% in the next year itself.
According to Forbes, his current net worth (Nov 2020) is $183.8 Billion, and is the richest man in the world.
◼️ Blue Origin
Most people only know Jeff Bezos for Amazon. However, he also owns an aerospace company. The name of the company is Blue Origin. The main aim of Blue Origin is to produce space vehicles affordably. They use reusable launch vehicle to achieve it. There are more than 2500 employees (as per 2019 reports).
The CEO of Blue Origin is Bob Smith and Jeff owns the company. The company was launched on 8th September 2020. In 2016, Amazon was doing very well. Bezos sold $1 Billion worth of Amazon stocks and invested that amount in Blue Origin. There are 20 Blue Origin Space vehicles.
Blue Origin works with NASA, ULA, and many other military agencies too. The name has a very interesting meaning. “Blue” is because Earth is a blue planet and the last word is because Earth is the origin of the planet.
There are many known vehicles in the company. However, the most popular one is New Shepard which is a suborbital rocket that can also carry passengers.
◼️ Jeff’s Businesses
Jeff is one of the richest people in the world. As of Oct 2020, he is the richest person in the world with a net worth of $190 Billion which is 70 billion more than the second richest man.
Other than Amazon, Bezos also owns The Washington Post which is a newspaper company. Bezos face some accusation about controlling the content of the newspaper. However, they were dismissed soon. Later in 2016, Jeff changed the entire platform by enhancing the entire company to the online platform. That’s the reason behind the success of The Washington Post. He bought the company for $250 million in 2013. Before acquiring it, he even created a holding company which was known as Nash Holdings LLC.
Along with this, Jeff has already invested in many companies including Google, Unity Biotechnology, Grail, Juno, ZocDoc, and Therapeutics. He invested in Google right from the start. Jeff was one of the first shareholders in the tech giant. All the investments are made through his Venture Capital vehicle aka Bezos Expeditions.
There are many people with the “Philanthropist” tag in the world, Jeff is also one of them. He donated a lot of money to the people in need through various foundations and in uncountable ways.
Between 2009 to 2017, he donated a lot to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research center. In 2003, he pledged $500k to Worldreader. Many such donations are managed by the Bezos expeditions. He also created a separate fund for such a cause. In February 2020, he donated 10 Billion to combat climate change. Starting from college scholarships to energy funds, Bezos has donated a lot of money for all the cause.
During the global pandemic, he donated $100 Million to food banks with the help of Feeding America. Not to mention, Amazon also helped many sellers to sell online during the lockdown in many countries.
◼️ Personal Life
Of course, you might surely want to know about the personal life of the geek, right?
He is a self-made billionaire. Most of the wealth comes from Amazon. However, his investments and other companies are also his sources of income. According to Forbes, his Philanthropy score is 1 and the self-made is 8.
While he was working for D.E Shaw, he met MacKenzie Tuttle. She was a novelist, Bezos married her a year later. They had 4 children (three sons and one daughter who was adopted from China). However, the couple got divorced in 2019. His wife got 25% of the Amazon Stock. On the plus side, Bezos would have all the voting rights. Did you know the divorce was announced on Twitter?
In March 2003, he was traveling in a helicopter with only 3 passengers. Unfortunately, the helicopter crashed in West Texas. This was because the tail of the helicopter hit a tree. Luckily, Bezos only suffered a few minor injuries which were cured in the hospital on the same day itself.
◼️ Things to Learn
We started the “Geek of the Month” section not only to tell you about the person but also because you can learn from these people.
- Two Pizza Rule: Many entrepreneurs will not agree to this but Jeff has a two-pizza rule. He says that your team should be small enough that two Pizzas are enough. He believes that a bigger team cause inefficient.
- Test a lot: Amazon has tried almost all types of advertising. Whether it’s TV advertise or it’s about offering free shipping above X dollars, they have tried it all. So, one thing you should learn is that you should test a lot.
- Scale-up: Imagine if Amazon was just an online book store. So, the moral is to scale up your business.
- Customers first: One of the lines by Jeff is “Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient.” He said in one of the interviews that he is obsessed with the customers and not with the competition.
- Don’t Have Regrets: The best way to avoid regrets is to start now instead of doing it later.
Be stubborn and Flexible: Of course, you need to be stubborn and flexible whether it’s for business or life. Jeff added that the real part is to know when to be which.
So, these are some of the things that you need to learn from the Geek of the month – Jeff Bezos.
➡️ References and Citations