CEO Series: Jeff Bezos
The creation of Amazon.com
A man that has always been widely recognized as a self-made billionaire, philanthropist and CEO of one of the top American e-commerce companies, Amazon.com, 55-year old Jeffery Preston Bezos is continuing to drive innovation up the wall.
Before starting what became a huge entrepreneurial effort, Jeff was just a regular kid, growing up in the small town of Albuquerque, New Mexico, later moving to Florida. This was where he really started to acquire a love for computers. During his time in high school, Jeff took the initiative to launch his first-ever business: The Dream Institute; an educational summer camp that targeted 4-6th graders.
Jeff later graduated high school as valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar and a Silver Knight Scholar. He was offered the option to attend a Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida to further his keen interest in all things technology.
After graduating, Bezos received admission at Princeton University to complete a Bachelor of Science, choosing to major in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. During this time, he made it to the top of his class, graduating summa cum laude in 1986.
After graduation, Bezos began working at Fitel, a fintech telecommunications startup, a company based around helping bridge the gap between technology and finance. He was given the task of helping build a network for international trade. Although this served well for Bezos initially, he later moved on to higher positions in various companies including D.E. Shaw, a hedge fund company on Wall Street where Bezos worked his way up the corporate ladder to become one of the youngest vice-presidents at the mere age of 30.
But it was during this time, in his last and final year of working at the prestigious Wall Street firm that Bezos really began to explore his possibilities and start to venture out by himself.
The discovery of Amazon.com
Bezos was always a forward-thinker. Nellie Bowles, journalist of The New York Times even went as far as describing him as a “coldblooded corporate titan”.
The discovery of amazon.com all began when Bezos quit his job at D.E Shaw to pursue his passion to create an online bookstore. He brought-to-life the Amazon.com that we know today, while travelling from New York to Seattle.
“The wake up call was finding this startling statistic that web usage in the spring of 1994 was growing at 2,300 percent a year. You know, things just don’t grow that fast. It’s highly unusual, and that started me about thinking, “What kind of business plan might make sense in the context of that growth?”
After noticing this huge amount of growth in the computer industry, Bezos began working in his home garage on the 5th of July, 1994, to make it a reality. He initially named the company ‘Cadabra’, a play on the words of the old magical expression “Abracadabra” to represent the discovery of online shopping, something that would grow leaps and bounds in the future. This name was later changed to ‘Amazon’ after a lawyer misheard the name as being ‘cadaver’, which means corpse. The name amazon was chosen in reference to the Amazon river located in South America.
The growth of Amazon.com
Slowly but surely, Amazon grew. People were fascinated with the concept of having an online shopping platform. Within 30 days, the company had already sold books in 45 different foreign countries and sales figures began hitting the roof at $20k per week. It had gone further than Bezos and his team could have imagined.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.”
Not everything was cherry blossoms
At last it seemed as if the time for Amazon to fall came. In late 2002, due to overspending their budget, Amazon’s revenues began to slow down. Finances dipped down to $350 million, bringing the company close to bankruptcy.
“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”
However, Bezos would not let his dream go crumbling down. He closed many distribution centres, laying off a good 14% of the workforce. He began driving the company towards success again. The company’s revenues bounced back and in 2003, profits shot back up to $400 million.
Continuing to invent
From that point forward, Amazon became famous for its wide market of items, including the new Kindle (launched in 2007), by Bezos in an effort to simulate the same flow between games as in books, allowing readers to continue to fully engage with thousands of books wherever they were.
Where is he now?
Jeffery Bezos, upon going after his dream of creating virtual, highly-accessible platforms for the wider community, is now one of the richest billionaires in the world. His net worth sits at 164.9 billion dollars and he continues to thrive and innovate.