by Ali Almandalawi
American Entrepreneur and e-commerce pioneer Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, owner of The Washington Post and founder of the space exploration company Blue Origin. His successful business ventures have made him the richest man in the world.
Jeffery Preston “Jeff” Bezos was born on January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His biological father, Ted Jorgenson, was one of Alburquerque’s top unicyclists and part of a local troupe the Unicycle Wranglers who put on performance at county fairs and circuses while Jeff was still a baby. Jeff’s mother, Jacklyn Bezos, was still in her teens when she married Ted, and their marriage lasted for little more than one year. Jeff’s father “had a habit of drinking too much,” according to “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” by journalist and biographer Brad Stone. Stone suggests that Bezos’ childhood may have contributed to his obsession with success.
Jeff got straight As in high school and had an early love for computers which led him to study computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton University. After graduation he worked on Wall Street, and in 1990 he became the youngest senior vice president at the investment firm D.E. Shaw. Four years later, at just 30 years old, Jeff quit his lucrative job and chose to make a risky move to open amazon.com, an online bookstore. He had originally pitched the idea to his former boss, who wasn’t interested. Bezos says he got the idea when he saw the rate at which internet usage was growing and decided to tap into the potentials of the internet market. “I came across the fact that Web usage was growing at 2,300 percent per year. I’d never seen or heard of anything that grew that fast, and the idea of building an online bookstore with millions of titles — something that simply couldn’t exist in the physical world — was very exciting to me,” he said in his 2010 Princeton address.
Jeff managed to raise $1 million from his family and friends, enough to set up his business in the garage of his Seattle home where he was surrounded by a tremendous pool of hi-tech talent. The initial success of the company was meteoric. With no press promotion, Amazon.cpm sold books across the United States and in 45 countries within 30 days. In two months, sales had summed up to $20,000 a week. Bezos Began to diversify Amazon’s offering with the sale of Music and Videos in 1988, and later clothes, electronics, toys and more through major retail partnerships.
In 1997, Amazon.com went public and in just two years, Amazon’s shares were more than twice of its biggest competitors. A decade later those who had invested in it were multi-millionaires. Bezos’s strategy was to increase Amazon’s shares as quickly as possible so Amazon could become the ‘World’s biggest anything store’. Amazon’s yearly net sales increased from $510,000 in 1995 to some $600 million in 1998 and from more than $19.1 billion in 2008 to almost $233 billion in 2018. In September 2018, Amazon was valued at more than $1 trillion, the second company to ever hit that record just a few weeks after Apple.
Conquering the internet wasn’t enough for Bezos. His longterm plan has always been something much bigger - to establish a permanent human colony in space. In 2000, he established Blue Origin, an aerospace company that develops technologies to lower the cost of space travel to make it accessible to paying customers. For a decade and a half, the company operated quietly. Then, in 2016, Bezos invited reporters to visit the headquarters in Kent, Washington, just south of Seattle. He described a vision of humans not only visiting but eventually colonising space. In 2017, Bezos promised to sell about $1 billion in Amazon stock annually to fund Blue Origin.
As of August 2019, both Bloomberg and Forbes estimated Jeff Bezos' net worth at $110 million. One analysis of Bezos' 2018 stock earnings had him taking home roughly $260 million per day.After more than 25 years of marriage, Jeff and MacKenzie divorced in 2019 due to Bezos’ affair with another woman. As part of the divorce settlement, Jeff's stake in Amazon was cut from 16 percent to 12 percent, putting his stake at nearly $110 million and MacKenzie's at more than $37 billion. MacKenzie announced that she planned to give away at least half of her wealth to charity. Jeff and MacKenzie have four children together: three sons and a daughter adopted from China.