Jeff Bezos Biography - How He Started Amazon and More (2023)

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Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos Biography - How He Started Amazon and More (1)Amazon

The King Of E-Commerce

Founder of

Founded: 1995

"Our vision is to be the world's most consumer-centric company, where customers can come to find anything they want to buy online."- Jeff Bezos

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is the second richest person in the world, behind 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 his sub-orbital spaceflight service, Blue Origin, the former Amazon CEO came from humble beginnings.

In fact, Bezos' father, Miguel Bezos, migrated to the United States from Cuba, which had a great impact on his son's entrepreneurial drive. Working with the Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation, Bezos honored his dad at the 2022 Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Awards, explaining, "He spoke no English, he had to make his way," at the event. "He had those tough experiences. I think in every immigrant you'll find a deep optimism and a deep resilience too."

As the child of an immigrant, Bezos' rise to success is a true American dream. Keep scrolling for more details on how Bezos made Amazon what it is today.

How did Jeff Bezos start Amazon?

In 1994, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was already extremely successful by most peoples 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 making an estimated six-figure salary and was destined to rise even further in the company ranks. But Bezos had other plans.

Fueled by a secret passion for the infant business of electronic retailing, Bezos dreamed of creating his own company in the vast, then virtually uncharted wilds of the World Wide Web. It was a risky move, but it quickly paid off. Just four years after Bezos created, the virtual bookstore became the template for how e-commerce businesses should be run, with sales of more than $610 million and more than 13 million customers worldwide.

Bezos first got the idea to start an Internet enterprise in 1994. While surfing the Internet in search of new ventures for D E Shaw to invest in, he came across the statistic that World Wide Web usage was growing by 2,300 percent a month. Bezos immediately recognized the expansive possibilities of selling online and began exploring the entrepreneurial possibilities of developing an Internet business.

He drew up a list of 20 potential products he thought might sell well via the Internet, including software, CDs and books. After reviewing the list, books were the obvious choice, primarily because of the sheer number of titles in existence. Bezos realized that while even the largest superstores could stock only a few hundred thousand books, a mere fraction of what is available, a "virtual" bookstore could offer millions of titles. The die was cast. Bezos passed up a fat bonus, packed 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 tremendous pool of high-tech talent, it was also in close proximity to Ingram Book Group's Oregon warehouse. While MacKenzie drove, Jeff spent the trip pecking out a business plan on a laptop computer and calling prospective 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 crew of five employees worked out of the garage, learning how to source books and setting up a computer system that would make easy to navigate. A true marketing visionary, in addition to creating a user-friendly interface that would streamline the "needle in a haystack" process that bookstore shopping often entails, Bezos wanted to establish a "virtual community" where visitors could "hang out." To achieve this goal, he and his team created a number of innovative programs, including one that would let customers add their own book reviews to the site and a feature that recommends books based on a customer's previous purchases.

In July 1995, opened its virtual doors, calling itself "Earth's Biggest Book Store," with more than 1 million titles to choose from. Fueled by word of mouth, or more accurately, word of e-mail, rocketed off the line like a nitro-burning dragster. Enraptured by the enormous selection of books, the superior customer service and the user-friendly design of the site, Internet users ecstatically plugged on Internet newsgroups and mailing lists.

The orders poured in, and by September 1996, had grown into a company of 100 employees and had racked up more than $15.7 million in sales. Three years later, those figures would rocket to more than 3,000 employees (including some in Britain and Germany) and more than $610 million in sales.

Amazon's success did not go unnoticed by bookstore giant Barnes & Noble, who quickly put up its own website. To combat Amazon's claim that it was "Earth's Biggest Bookstore," Barnes & Noble embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign proclaiming that they offered twice as many books as Amazon. But it was a strategy doomed to failure. The forward-thinking Bezos had already expanded Amazon's product line to include CDs and replaced "Earth's Biggest Book Store" with the tagline "Books, Music and More," leaving Barnes & Noble, as one writer put it, "wrapping its fingers around the neck of a phantom."

While Amazon has left its closest competitor in the dust, the company set its sights on conquering all of online retail. In 2019, it was believed that Amazon controlled 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 U.S. pharmacy market, buying a share of, a company that sells everything from breath mints to Viagra online. They have since deepened their footprint in the healthcare world. In 2018, Amazon acquired PillPack, an online full-service pharmacy. Plus, in addition to Amazon's continual expansion, Bezos also launched Amazon Web Services providing on-demand cloud computing platforms, and he owns The Washington Post among many other business endeavors.

How much of Amazon does Jeff Bezos own?

Previously owning 16 percent of the company, the Amazon employee sold $8.8 billion worth of his Amazon stock after stepping back as Amazon CEO to become executive chairman in July 2021. Despite owning less than 10 percent of the company today, his net worth is estimates to be a whopping $171 billion, per Forbes.

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

What is Jeff Bezos doing now?

Now with more time on his hands, Bezos is of course philanthropic thanks to his Bezos Family Foundation, however, he's still very much embroiled in the criticism wealthy corporations like his garner on the issue of corporate taxes.

In fact, president Joe Biden slammed organizations like his via Twitter as tensions around inflation rise. "You want to bring down inflation? Let's make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share," President Biden tweeted on May 13, 2022, to which Bezos replied, "Raising corp taxes is fine to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Mushing them together is just misdirection."

The newly created Disinformation Board should review this tweet, or maybe they need to form a new Non Sequitur Board instead. Raising corp taxes is fine to discuss. Taming inflation is critical to discuss. Mushing them together is just misdirection.

— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) May 14, 2022

Although Amazon didn't pay federal income tax in 2017 and 2018, Bezos doesn't think big business are to blame for inflation. "They know inflation hurts the neediest the most. But unions aren't causing inflation and neither are wealthy people," Bezos added in response to the White House and Biden administration.

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How did Jeff Bezos start Amazon? ›

How did Jeff Bezos start Amazon? Jeff Bezos quit his job at an investment bank in 1994 and moved to Seattle, Washington, to open a virtual bookstore. Working out of his garage with a handful of employees, Bezos began developing the software for the site, which he called It sold its first book in 1995.

Why was Jeff Bezos successful with Amazon? ›

Most of Bezos' wealth stems from his shares in Amazon, which he founded in 1994 from his garage in near Seattle, Washington. Behind the success of Amazon and, in turn, its founder, is innovation, creativity, and hard work.

How did Amazon get started? ›

Amazon was founded in the garage of Bezos' rented home in Bellevue, Washington. Bezos' parents invested almost $250,000 in the start-up. On July 16, 1995, Amazon opened as an online bookseller, selling the world's largest collection of books to anyone with World Wide Web access.

What are 3 interesting facts about Jeff Bezos? ›

Top 10 Interesting Facts about Jeff Bezos
  • Jeff Bezos' Father was a Circus Performer. ...
  • Bezos is the Founder of Amazon. ...
  • As a Child, Jeff Bezos was Tinkerer and Entrepreneurial. ...
  • Jeff Bezos Bought the Most Expensive Property in LA. ...
  • Jeff Bezos Currently Makes $3,715 Per Second.
29 Mar 2022

What is the idea of Amazon? ›

When Amazon was founded on July 5, 1994, as a website that only sold books, founder Jeff Bezos had a vision for the company's explosive growth and ecommerce domination. He knew from the very beginning that he wanted Amazon to be "an everything store."

Why is Amazon called Amazon? ›

In 1994 Jeff Bezos, a former Wall Street hedge fund executive, incorporated, choosing the name primarily because it began with the first letter of the alphabet and because of its association with the vast South American river.

What made Amazon so successful? ›

Amazon's success largely stems from its innovative technologies and practices, many of which were championed by its CEO, Jeff Bezos. Consider the Echo, Amazon's impressive voice command device. Echo can be used to play songs, research your favorite sports teams, and even check the weather with a few spoken words.

Why did Amazon get so successful? ›

Amazon succeeded in building a consumer paradise. They charge much less and promise much more than other stores and platforms: The best selection by combining a retail business with a marketplace business, the best price by using the “buybox“, and the quickest delivery by offering FBA to their sellers.

What is the secret of Amazon's success? ›

Customer obsessed is different and better than being competitor obsessed. Customer obsession is key to Amazon's success. Carr explains to us that Amazon is a customer-obsessed company, not a competitor-obsessed company.

What product did Amazon first start? ›

On July 16, 1995, Amazon officially opens for business as an online bookseller. Within a month, the fledgling retailer had shipped books to all 50 U.S. states and to 45 countries.

What was Amazon first name? ›

HIGHLIGHTS. Jeff Bezos started working on Amazon back in 1994. Amazon was initial called Cadabra Inc. Jeff Bezos also considered naming Amazon,

When was Amazon first started? ›

What is Jeff Bezos famous quote? ›

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.

Who is richest man in the world? ›

2017. On the 30th anniversary of the Forbes list of the world's billionaires, for the fourth year in a row, Bill Gates was named the richest man in the world. In 2017, there was a record of 2,043 people on the list, which is the first time over 2,000 people were listed.

Who is the richest person in the world 2022? ›

Key Takeaways
  • Elon Musk, the co-founder and CEO of Tesla, is the richest person in the world with a net worth of $241 billion. ...
  • Behind Musk is the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, with an estimated net worth of $151 billion.

What are Amazon's three big ideas? ›

According to Amazon Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, “The three big ideas at Amazon are long-term thinking, customer obsession, and a willingness to invent,”. With that mentality, he pioneered new industrial sectors and changed the ordinance of commerce.

What inspired the Amazon logo? ›

In 1995, Jeff Bezos wanted to create a logo for Amazon that represented his vision. He decided to use a background that was blue like a river with the shape of a trapezoid forming the letter "A" and the Amazon river or a forest path crossing the trapezoid.

How many countries are in the Amazon? ›

The Amazon is a vast biome that spans eight rapidly developing countries—Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, and Suriname—and French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.

Who made the Amazon logo? ›

The font used on the logo between 1998 and 2000 was known as Officina Sans Bold. Who designed the Amazon Logo? The Amazon logo was redesigned in 2012 by a logo designer named Turner Duckworth.

Does Amazon make a profit? ›

Amazon was profitable in 2021. The company generated over $33 billion in net income, primarily driven by the Amazon AWS business, which contributed to over 55% of its operating margins and other profitable parts like Amazon Prime and Ads.

Why is Amazon so powerful? ›

But Amazon's true core competency is not retail: it's logistics. What is revolutionary about the company is its ability to keep massive numbers of products moving from warehouses to homes through a complex network of trucks and airplanes managed by over 1 million employees.

What was the key to Jeff Bezos success? ›

According to Bezos, one of the lessons he'd learned building Amazon was “that success can come through iteration: invent, launch, reinvent, relaunch, start over, rinse, repeat, again and again,” he wrote, adding that “the path to success is anything but straight.”

How successful is Amazon now? ›

Amazon is now considered the leading ecommerce company worldwide with more than 500M SKUs in the US alone, accounting for 53% of US ecommerce growth. Amazon successfully completed first drone delivery in UK. 55% of online product searches begin on Amazon.

What traits made Jeff Bezos successful? ›

World's Richest Men: Jeff Bezos Personality Style, Traits &...
  • He Has The Knack For Innovation.
  • He Is Hardcore Realist.
  • He Believes In Regret Minimization Theory.
  • He Forms A Plan.
  • He is Experimentalist.
  • He Takes Risks.
  • He Has Door Design Desks.
  • He is Highly Competitive.

Why has Amazon succeeded online? ›

A customer-focused approach

One of the reasons why Amazon is so successful is due to its customer-focused approach. In every step of the buyer's journey, no time is wasted: customers are given what they want right away. Amazon has always worked hard on making things as seamless and user-friendly as possible.

How long did it take for Amazon to become successful? ›

For a sense of scale, it took Amazon more than 14 years—58 quarters after its May 1997 initial public offering—to make, cumulatively, as much profit as it produced in the latest quarter alone. Keep in mind that Amazon consistently lost money for its first several years as a public company.

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