If you have not heard about Amazon.com, raise your hand up. No one is raising there hands? Good! That is what I expected. Do you know who Jeff Bezos is? He is the founder and CEO of Amazon.com. Jeff Bezos is an American technology entrepreneur, astute investor and a philanthropist. He is also the richest man on the face of the earth now and CEO of Washington Post and Blue Origin.
Today, we are going to talk about the life of this resilient entrepreneur who has taken the world by storm. The essence is that we learn one or two business lessons that we can all apply to our businesses.
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Jeff Bezos Background
Jeff Bezos was born on the 12th of January, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Theodore John Jorgensen and Jacklyn Marie Gise.
His birth parents separated when he was very little. His mother remarried Miguel Mike Bezos who adopted Jeff and gave him the name Bezos. Jeff and his mother then moved to Texas where his adopted father lived so, Jeff Bezos grew up in Texas living with his mother and new dad.
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Jeff Bezos Educational History
Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary School and Miami Palmetto High School. He worked part time at McDonald’s while at Palmetto.
Jeff Bezos studied electrical engineering and computer science and graduated with a 4.2 grade from Princeton University in 1986; While in school, he was part of Phi Beta Kappa and was elected to be a member of Tau Beta Pi.
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Early Career of Jeffery Bezos.
Jeff had always been enthusiastic about science and technology that even as a child he converted his father’s garage to an experiment room where he tried out different technological escapades.
After graduation, Jeffery got job offers from Intel, Bell Labs, Anderson Consulting to name a few but he rejected them all and worked with Fitel instead.
Fitel is a telecommunications company whose goal was to build world trade networks. Jeff Bezos first worked with the company as a programmer, he worked so hard towards achieving the organizations’ goals that he was promoted to the head of development and the director of customer service.
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The Switch From Programming to Banking.
Jeff Bezos was never complacent; he was always looking for new opportunities to explore his talents. After working at Fitel for a while, he transitioned into banking. He worked as a product manager at Bankers Trust (currently a part of Deutsche Bank) between 1988 – 1990. He then moved to D. E. Shaw & Co (a hedge fund company) in 1990 and worked there until 1994. Jeff Bezos became the fourth senior vice-president of D.E. Shaw at the age of 30.
Jeff Bezos quit his job at D. E. Shaw to establish Amazon on the 5th of July 1994 in Bellevue, Washington U.S. He called it Cadabra Inc to show the magic in online shopping, until he decided to change the name to Amazon, after the Amazon river in South America.
Support From Parents
He allegedly received an estimated $300,000 from his parents as seed capital for Amazon. Amazon started from his garage with few employees. After a while, they moved into a two-bedroom flat.
When Amazon started, it was an online bookstore, but overtime it diversified into other products. Jeff Bezos took the company public in an Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 1997.
Jeff believed in Amazon, he believed that online book sale will over take competition from large book retailers despite critical reports from Fortune and Barron’s.
Challenges and turn around
Amazon experienced dark times that resulted in laying off of 14% of its workforce but the company rebounded in 2003 when it turned a profit of $400 million.
In 2007, Jeff Bezos launched Amazon Kindle because he wished to create for books the same flow state you have with videos. In 2013, Bezos sealed a contract of $600 million with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for Amazon Web Services.
Amazon’s business practices has always been criticised especially in matters that concerns benefit obligations to its employees. They responded on October2, 2018 by announcing a company-wide wage increase.
During Bezos graduation speech as the valedictorian, he was interviewed by Miami Herald newspaper. Then he revealed his interest to build and promote places of interest and relaxation for humans in space. Jeff Bezos was just 18 years old at the time. Keeping through to this promise after many years, he established Blue Origin.
Blue Origin is a spaceflight company that provides rockets for humans to travel to space and it was established in September 2000. The company experienced various setbacks especially when its first set of space vehicles crashed. Just as Bezos didn’t give up on amazon, he kept on working and even pushed harder this time.
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In November 2015, Blue Origin’s New Shepard space was successfully rocketed into space, achieving its planned altitude before vertically landing back at its launch site in West Texas. Also in December 2017, New Shepard successfully rocketed into space again, this time with dummy passengers.
Jeff has maintained that his vision with Blue Origin is to make human species multi-planetary so as to preserve natural resources on Earth. Bezos has been open about his desires of colonising the solar system since 2016 and has been selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year to finance Blue Origin.
Bezos established Nash Holdings, a limited liability holding company which he used to purchase The Washington Post. The Washington Post was purchased for $250 million in cash.
He has reinvented the newspaper as a media and technology company. This he did through reconstructing its mobile platforms, digital media and analytical software. The paper was profitable in 2016 after a surge in online readership since its purchase in 2013.
Other Investments of Jeff Bezos.
Bezos invests in other businesses through his venture capital, Bezos Expedition. In 1998, he became one of the first shareholder in google with an investment of $250,000 which resulted in 3.3 million shares of Google stock. His shares in google was worth $3.1 billion in 2017.
Jeff Bezos has showed an interest in the health sector which is evident in his investment portfolios. He has investments in Grail, Unity Biotechnology, Juno Therapeutics and ZocDoc. He is also involved in a venture called Haven; a partnership between Amazon, Jp Morgan and Berkshire.
Philanthropic Activities of Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos donated to an innovation center at the Seattle Museum of History and Industry. He also denoted to the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics at Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Donations has always been made by Jeff to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center between 2009 – 2017.
Bezos donated $33 million to TheDream.US, a scholarship fund for undocumented US immigrants who came into the country as minors. He also donated to Breakthrough Energy Ventures; an independent humanitarian fund created by Bill Gates to promote radiation-free energy in June 2018.
In September 2018, Bezos contributed $10 million to With Honor, an organization with the aim of increasing the number of veterans in political office.
Day 1 Fund
Bezos announced in 2018 that he will commit approximately $2 billion to a fund that will take care of American homelessness and education for low income communities. In fulfilling his promises, he established the “Day 1 Families Fund” and “Day 1 Academies Fund”. “Day 1 Families Fund” finances night shelter and day care centers while “Day1 Academies Fund” funds early childhood education.
Recognitions and Awards of Jeff Bezos.
- Time named him “Person of the year” in 1999.
- U.S. News and World Report chose him as one of the best leaders in America in 2008.
- Carnegie Mellon University gave Jeffery Bezos an honorary doctorate in science and technology in 2008.
- Bezos and Gregg Zehr received an innovation award for Amazon Kindle from ‘The Economist’ in 2011.
- Fortune tagged Jeff Bezos as the ‘Businessperson of the year’ in 2012.
- ‘Fortune’s list of 50 great leaders of the world’ mentioned him for 3years and he topped the list in 2015.
- Bezos won the ’Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization’ and collected $250,000 cash prize (he gave the money to Students for the ‘Exploration and Development of Space’ in September 2016).
- At the Explorers Club yearly dinner; He was rewarded for what he did with Blue Origin with the ‘Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award’ in March 2018.
- Germany’s Axel Springer Award for Business Innovation and Social Responsibility in 2018.
- Time magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
Jeff Bezos Net worth.
Jeff Bezos’s current net worth is $150.1 billion according to Forbes
Bezos has showed that technology is an enabler with Amazon. This is a great lesson to entrepreneurs to always question the status quo. There is always a better and faster way to doing anything.
Do not be comfortable with the way things are done. always be on the look out for business opportunities. As we can also see with Jeff Bezos, the way to create sustainable wealth is to invest in other businesses if possible in other industries as he is currently doing.
Let us know what you learnt from the story of this great man in the comments.
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Source credit – Wikipedia
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