Jeff Bezos is the founder and executive chair of the e-commerce giant Amazon, the owner of The Washington Post, and the founder of the space exploration company Blue Origin. Bezos, who was born in New Mexico in 1964, developed an early interest in computers and went on to study computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton University.
He worked on Wall Street after college, and in 1990, he was the youngest senior vice president at the financial firm D.E. Shaw. Bezos left his wealthy job four years later to launch Amazon.com, an online bookshop that became one of the internet’s biggest success stories.
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, and in 2013, he purchased The Washington Post.Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017. His tremendous commercial activities have made him one of the world’s wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of $137.9 billion as of May 2023.
Early Life and Education
Jeffrey Preston Bezos, better known as Jeff Bezos, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 12, 1964, to an adolescent mother, Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen, and his biological father, Ted Jorgensen. The Jorgensens had been married for less than a year. Bezos’ mother remarried Mike Bezos, a Cuban immigrant, when he was four years old.
As a child, Bezos was fascinated by how things worked, converting his parents’ garage into a laboratory and installing electrical contraptions about his house. As a youngster, he relocated to Miami with his family, where he developed an interest in computers and graduated valedictorian of his high school. During high school, he established the Dream Institute, an educational summer program for fourth, fifth, and sixth pupils.
Bezos went to Princeton University after high school. He earned a summa cum laude degree in computer science and electrical engineering in 1986.
Career in Finance
Following his graduation from Princeton, Bezos worked at many Wall Street firms, including Fitel, Bankers Trust, and the investment firm D.E. Shaw. Bezos became D.E. Shaw’s youngest vice president in 1990.
Despite the fact that his career in finance was incredibly profitable, Bezos chose to take a risk and enter the emerging realm of e-commerce. He resigned his job in 1994, came to Seattle, and opened an online bookstore to capitalize on the untapped potential of the internet market.
Amazon: Start and Success Through the Years
On July 16, 1995, Bezos launched Amazon.com, named after a meandering South American river, after asking 300 friends to beta test his site. Several staff began working software with Bezos in his garage in the months preceding up to the launch, eventually expanding operations into a two-bedroom house outfitted with three Sun Microstations.
The company’s first success was phenomenal. Amazon.com sold books across the United States and in 45 international countries in 30 days with no press advertising. Sales hit $20,000 a week in two months, far quicker than Bezos and his startup team had anticipated.
When Amazon went public in 1997, many market observers wondered if the company would be able to compete when established retailers created their own e-commerce sites. Two years later, the start-up had not only kept up with, but significantly surpassed competitors, establishing itself as an e-commerce leader.
Bezos began to diversify Amazon’s services by selling CDs and films in 1998, followed by clothing, electronics, toys, and other items through large retail partnerships. While many dot.coms failed in the early 1990s, Amazon thrived, with annual revenues increasing from $510,000 in 1995 to over $17 billion in 2011.
Bezos stated in his 2018 annual shareholder letter that the business has surpassed 100 million paid customers for Amazon Prime. Amazon was valued at more over $1 trillion by September 2018, making it the second firm in history to do so, just a few weeks after Apple.
Amazon stated at the end of 2018 that it would raise the minimum pay for its employees to $15 per hour. Workers protested during Prime Day in July 2019 in protest of the company’s working conditions and rigorous pace.
Amazon Instant Video & Amazon Studios
Amazon debuted their video-on-demand service in 2006. It was originally known as Amazon Unbox on TiVo before being relaunched as Amazon Instant Video.
With the establishment of Amazon Studios in 2013, Bezos debuted a number of original programming. The critically praised Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle were the company’s breakout hits in 2014. In 2015, the firm developed and released its first original feature picture, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq.
Bezos appeared in Star Trek Beyond as an alien in a cameo appearance in 2016.Bezos, who has been a Star Trek fan since infancy, is mentioned as a Starfleet Official in the movie credits on IMDb.
The Seattle Times stated in early 2018 that Amazon had consolidated its consumer retail operations to focus on expanding sectors such as digital entertainment and Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant.
In 2007, Amazon unveiled the Kindle, a portable digital book reader that allowed customers to purchase, download, read, and store their book selections.
With the release of the Kindle Fire in 2011, Bezos introduced Amazon into the tablet industry. The following September, he unveiled the new Kindle Fire HD, the company’s next-generation tablet designed to compete with Apple’s iPad. “We haven’t created the best tablet at a certain price. According to ABC News, Bezos stated, “We have built the best tablet at any price.”
Bezos made waves in early December 2013 when he introduced Amazon Prime Air, a new, experimental venture that uses drones to provide delivery services to consumers. He stated that these drones would be able to transport things weighing up to five pounds and travel within a 10-mile radius of the company’s distribution facilities.
On December 7, 2016, the first Prime Air delivery took conducted in Cambridge, England.
When Amazon debuted the Fire Phone in 2014, Bezos oversaw one of the company’s few major blunders. It was withdrawn the next year after being criticized for being overly gimmicky.
Acquiring Whole Foods
Bezos had been interested in the food delivery sector, and in 2017, Amazon announced the acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in cash.
Amazon Prime customers can now get in-store promotions and grocery delivery in as little as two hours, depending on the market. As a result, Walmart and Kroger began offering food delivery services to its customers.
Stepping Down as Amazon CEO
Amazon announced in February 2021 that Bezos would step down as CEO in the third quarter of the year. In reality, he took over as executive chair of Amazon’s board of directors somewhat ahead of planned in July. Andy Jassy, a long-time Amazon employee, took over as CEO.
Bezos launched Blue Origin in 2000, an aerospace business that develops technology to reduce the cost of space travel so that it is affordable to paying customers. The company ran quietly for over a decade and a half.
Bezos then welcomed reporters to his headquarters in Kent, Washington, just south of Seattle, in 2016. He painted a picture of people not just visiting but someday colonizing space. Bezos stated in 2017 that he will sell around $1 billion in Amazon stock each year to fund Blue Origin.
Two years later, he unveiled the Blue Origin lunar lander and said that the business was testing its suborbital New Shepard rocket, which would transport visitors into space for a few minutes. “We’re going to build a space road.” “And then incredible things will happen,” Bezos said.
Blue Origin was one of 13 businesses chosen by NASA in August 2019 to collaborate on 19 technology projects to reach the moon and Mars. Blue Origin is working on a safe and precise lunar landing mechanism, as well as engine nozzles for liquid-fueled rockets. In addition, the business is collaborating with NASA to develop and launch reusable rockets from a rebuilt complex near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Owner of The Washington Post
On August 5, 2013, Bezos made news when he paid $250 million for The Washington Post and other magazines linked with its parent firm, The Washington Post Co.
The transaction signaled the end of the Graham family’s four-generation control over The Post Co., which included Donald E. Graham, the company’s chairman and CEO, and his niece, Post publisher Katharine Graham.
“The Post could have survived and been profitable under the company’s ownership for the foreseeable future,” Graham explained in an attempt to rationalize the sale. “However, we wanted to do more than just survive.” I’m not saying this ensures success, but it certainly increases our chances.”
In a statement to Post employees on August 5, Bezos wrote:
“The values of The Post do not need changing… There will, of course, be change at The Post over the coming years. That’s essential and would have happened with or without new ownership. The internet is transforming almost every element of the news business: shortening news cycles, eroding long-reliable revenue sources, and enabling new kinds of competition, some of which bear little or no news-gathering costs.”
Bezos employed hundreds of reporters and editors and increased the newspaper’s technological team (hundreds of those employees sent an open letter to their boss in the summer of 2018 requesting compensation raises and better benefits). The organization boasts a number of scoops, including the revelation that former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn lied about his communication with Russians, prompting his resignation.
The group declared itself profitable in 2016.The next year, the Post’s ad sales surpassed $100 million, with three consecutive years of double-digit revenue growth. According to ComScore, Amazon quickly surpassed The New York Times digital in terms of unique users, with 86.4 million unique users as of June 2019.
Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase issued a joint press release on January 30, 2018, announcing plans to merge their resources to develop a new healthcare company for their U.S. employees. According to the statement, the company will be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints” while it seeks methods to reduce costs and improve patient satisfaction, with an initial focus on technological solutions.
“The healthcare system is complex, and we approach this challenge with an open mind about the degree of difficulty,” Bezos explained. “As difficult as it may be, reducing the economic burden of healthcare while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worthwhile.”
Bezos, as one of the world’s wealthiest people, had previously been publicly chastised for his lack of humanitarian initiatives. However, in recent years, he has made significant philanthropic contributions through two new initiatives.
Bezos and his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, established the Bezos Day One Fund in 2018, with the goal of “funding existing nonprofits that help homeless families, and creating a network of new, nonprofit tier-one preschools in low-income communities.” Bezos made the statement a year after asking his Twitter followers how they could donate a portion of his money. Bezos donated $2 billion of his personal riches to the charity.
Bezos announced the establishment of the Bezos Earth Fund on February 17, 2020, to tackle the potentially disastrous effects of climate change. Bezos indicated that in addition to investing $10 billion to the endeavor, he would begin awarding grants and finance “scientists, activists, NGOs—any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.”
Bezos met MacKenzie Scott (then MacKenzie Tuttle) at D.E. Shaw, where he was a senior vice president and she worked as an administrative assistant to pay the bills for her writing career. The couple dated for three months before getting engaged and marrying in 1993. Bezos and Scott have four children: three sons and a Chinese-adopted girl.
Scott was an essential element of Amazon’s inception and success, helping to design the company’s first business plan and working as the company’s first accountant. Despite her modest and bookish demeanor, she publicly backed Amazon and her husband. Scott, a novelist by trade who studied under Toni Morrison at Princeton University, published her first book, The Testing of Luther Albright, in 2005 and her second novel, Traps, in 2013.
Bezos and Scott split in 2019 after 25 years of marriage. Bezos’ interest in Amazon was reduced from 16 percent to 12 percent as part of the divorce settlement, putting his stake at about $110 billion and Scott’s at more than $37 billion. Scott stated that she intended to donate at least half of her fortune to charity.
The National Enquirer published an 11-page exposé of Bezos’ extramarital romance with television host Lauren Sanchez shortly after he announced his divorce from MacKenzie in January 2019.
Following that, Bezos started an investigation into The National Enquirer and its parent firm, American Media Inc. The following month, in a lengthy Medium article, Bezos accused AMI of threatening to publish graphic images if he did not drop the probe.
“Of course I don’t want personal photos published, but I also won’t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption,” Bezos wrote. “I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out.”
Bezos claimed in the same piece that there could be a link between AMI’s actions and the Saudi government. A forensic examination of Bezos’ phone later revealed that it had been hacked after he got a video through WhatsApp from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Sanchez divorced her spouse in April of this year. That July, she and Bezos made their first public appearance as a couple at Wimbledon. Page Six broke the news that Bezos and Sanchez were engaged in late May 2023.