“Jeff is crazy — crazy like a fox. He has a very clear vision and design.”
— Nadia Shouraboura, a former Amazon executive.
He is the founder of Amazon.com, the biggest E-Commerce marketplace in the world.
He started his venture from a garage and turned it into the most popular eCommerce shopping portal on earth.
His creation Amazon has catapulted him into the billionaire’s club.
Just like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos is an avid risk taker and a ruthless boss, who has zero tolerance for complacency.
On the personal front, Bezos is a generous person and a “relentless” romantic. His life revolves around romance and innovation.
Bezos’ life is a story of twists and turns, the invisible hand of fate and his futuristic approach to businesses. He was estranged by his biological father, when he was just 17 months old.
AMAZON CEO | Jeff Bezos Biography | Success Story | Startup Stories
At present, Jeff Bezos net worth is around $137 billion as of July 12, 2022. (Source – https://www.forbes.com/real-time-billionaires/)
Passion for space travel and future technologies
Part of Bezos’ success can be attributed to the fact that he believes in future and had big dreams since his childhood.
He has also been a space nerd.
As a high school student, he wanted to save humanity by developing permanent settlements in orbiting space stations, protecting and preserving the nature on the planet Earth.
It was probably the same approach that led to the launch of his space flight services company “Blue Origin” in the year 2000.
Since the beginning, Jeff Bezos was passionate about space age technologies. He was quite fond of watching Star Trek TV serial as a child.
Bezos also played a cameo role in the movie Star Trek Beyond. You can spot him dressed up as an alien in the movie.
Difficult childhood as an estranged son
Bezos was born in 1964 as Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen to a teenage mother, Jacklyn Gise, (16 years old at the time) and a teenage father Ted Jorgensen (barely 18 years old), in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Jeff’s mother divorced his father, when he was just 17 months old. After that the family was estranged by Jorgensen, as Gise asked him not to intervene.
Jeff Bezos was brought up by his mom and stepdad Mike Bezos. His biological father Ted Jorgenson died in 2015 after brief illness. According to Jeff Bezos, he has no memories of his biological dad.
Career switch from Finance to Internet
When Bezos was in the final year at Princeton University, he refused many lucrative job offers including the ones from Intel and Bell.
After getting a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, he joined a startup known as FITEL, where he learnt how to run startups. Soon he became the director of customer service in the company.
After that he joined Bankers Trust as a product manager and worked there for two years. The next company he joined was DE Shaw Co., which was a hedge fund.
His career was moving in the right orbit at the Wall Street, as he became senior Vice President at D E Shaw in 1994.
Just like Bill Gates, he was stunned to see the growth of the Internet usage by 2300% in a year. However, nobody was using the Internet for selling goods. He studied the most profitable mail order businesses and decided to sell books on the web.
One of the Greatest Speeches Ever | Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos always wanted to get out of the third world prison and wanted a resourceful woman. He spotted one such woman in his own staff at D E Shaw Co. – Mackenzie Tuttle, an analystand novelist and married her in 1993. His wife was very supportive and instrumental in the launch of Amazon.
Moving with his wife to Seattle
Soon, Bezos quit his Wall Street job and moved to Seattle, Washington to setup his e-commerce shop.
Like the most successful businesses in the United States, Amazon also started from its humble origin in a shabby and semi-insulated garage.
Bezos’s parents were initially skeptical about their son leaving his prestigious Capital Market job to start a risky eCommerce business selling books.
However, convinced that their son was quite passionate about his new venture, they gave him their nod.
Even Bezos was apprehensive that the entire investment may go down the drain if the project doesn’t take off.
It’s important to note that the investment Bezos’s parents had done in Amazon back in 1995 was around $250,000.
Today, it’s worth more than $30 billion considering the stock value of the company.
At present, his mom Jackie and dad Mike Bezos run the Bezos Family Foundation.
Launching world’s first online bookstore
Bezos launched his E-commerce website and got it tested by some 300 of his acquaintances. It turned out to be a success as it was smoothly working across different platforms.
You’ll be surprised to know that Amazon was known as “Cadabra” in 1994.
The name was inspired from “Abracadabra” often used by magicians.
It was often misspelt by the users and staffers, so it was changed to “Relentless” and soon it was christened as Amazon, which is the name of the famous river in Latin America.
Amazon experienced meteoric success right from the beginning.
Within 6 months of its inception, it started selling books in all of the 50 states in the US and in 50 locations overseas.
So, in early 1995, the first eCommerce platform was making $20,000 per week from its sales proceeds.
Bezos hadn’t anticipated any profit in his business plan for about four to five years, but it made a profit of $5 million in the year 2001.
Early problems and software glitches
It is not that the journey of Amazon was swift and smooth.
In the early days, the platform encountered a technical glitch and it resulted in the negative amounts appearing on the invoices generated for customer orders.
Amazon systems found themselves crediting the money back to the credit cards of the customers. Soon the management spotted the glitch and fixed it.
How Jeff Bezos Became the King of E-Commerce
Bezos has three sons from his first marriage and an adopted daughter, who hails from China. He kept his children away from digital devices specially smartphones for a long time following in the footsteps of Bill Gates.
Philanthropy and generosity for good causes
Bezos supports social causes such as helping homeless families, opening preschools, and financing the same-sex marriages.
Bezos is a strong supporter of the rights of homosexuals. In 2012, an Amazon employee approached Bezos during a fundraising campaign for the cause of same sex marriage. The employee was looking for just $100,000, but the couple went far ahead and donated $2.5 million and became one of the biggest financiers for the cause in the US.
In Sept. 2018, Bezos pledged $2 billion for homeless families and expand the network of Montessori-inspired preschools in the U.S., through his charity known as Bezos Day One Fund.
Owner of the Washington Post
Bezos had bought the prestigious Washington Post group in 2013 for US$250 million. Bezos had always been a smart investor.
He had invested $1 million in Google in 1998, when it was just a startup. That investment is equal to 1 billion US dollars today.
You will be surprised to know that since the launch of the Amazon IPO, the stock price of the company has increased by 97000%.
If you bought the stock of Amazon in February 2016 at the bargain price of $500 per share, an investment of $5000 would be worth $20,000 in the year 2019.
When Bezos launched Amazon Web Services, Netflix used to distribute its videos to millions of American households round the clock.
Bezos signed an agreement and allowed companies to use Amazon servers for the purpose. He reduced the tariff for the companies using it servers.
When he was informed that it will mean suffering loss for a long period of time, he said, “More profit means attracting more competition.”
He first learnt about company automation during his summer job at McDonald’s in Miami as a fry cook. He worked in a kitchen where automation was implemented. He himself designed a system that was attached to a buzzer and it helped him start and finish his core tasks in time.
Entrepreneurship was in his blood and he first launched his entrepreneurial venture known as Directed Reasoning Methods (DREAM), when he was in his High School.
It was a summer education camp set up for 5th graders. His partner in this venture was his girlfriend Ursula “Uschi” Werner. [Source: MSN]
Passion for ski-fi technologies
The virtual assistant technology used at Amazon is Alexa, which is inspired from the talking computer on a Star Trek television series.
Alexa is being developed on the pattern of the computer shown on science fiction show Star Trek, which can be controlled remotely and would be AI enabled.
Jeff believes in reverse engineering as far as the success of Amazon is concerned.
His famous quote is:
“Start With the Customer and Work Backward.” [Source: Goodreads]
Lessons to learn from Amazon’s meteoric success
Here are some of the secrets behind the unprecedented success of Amazon that the entrepreneurs must be aware of.
Pay attention to customer service
Bezos’ strong background in customer service at FITEL, where he was the director, customer service was instrumental in the success of Amazon.
You won’t believe but it’s true that even as a CEO, he still handles emails directly from customers.
If the issue is quite big, he forwards it to the concerned team with a “question mark” on it. It’s clearly a red flag and it means that the concerned team has to fix it immediately.
Be an entrepreneur and enjoy the freedom
According to Bezos, if you want a fulfilled life and more freedom, be an entrepreneur. So, even if you are 50, it’s not too late. You’re twice as likely to become successful than a 25 year old. [Source: MSN]
Focus on basics
In an interview with Lyons of Slate magazine, Jeff Bezos said that focus on basics, i.e. low prices, selection of products, reliability, fast delivery and convenience and your eCommerce business will thrive even in the bad economy. If you consistently do it, you will reap its rewards for many years to come. [Source: Slate]
Reverse engineer your business
Bezos always believed in “customer first”. He is often quoted as saying “Start with the customer and work backward.”
During his interview with Slate magazine, he said that development of Amazon Kindle as a dedicated reading device was a big step in that direction.
Form smaller teams
Bezos believes in smaller teams for success in the business world.
The term “two-pizza team” was coined by him and by it he meant that the ideal team should comprise of the members, who can be fed no more than two pizzas. It enables better communication and agility.
Jeff Bezos | How He Became World’s Richest Person | Case Study | Dr Vivek Bindra (In Hindi)
5 Tips for leadership by Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, the Internet billionaire is known for his unique approach and strategies.
You can learn the following things from his unprecedented success.
Don’t follow the crowd.
Adopt a data driven business model and cut the emotional component.
Work hard to offer the most competitive prices.
Don’t let failure push you back.
Always think for the long term.