Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1964. His mother, Jackie, was in her teens when he was born and she was only married to his biological father for about a year. She married Mike Bezos when Jeff was four years old. Mike was a Cuban who escaped to the United States when he was fifteen. He put himself through college in New Mexico and eventually became an engineer at Exxon.
Jeff went to Princeton and studied electrical engineering and computer science. He graduated summa cum laude in 1986 with a GPA of 4.3 on a 4.0 scale.
After he graduated from Princeton, Jeff joined a high-tech startup in New York called FITEL. After two years at FITEL, he joined Bankers Trust Company. At Bankers Trust, he setup computer systems that managed $250 billion in assets and eventually became the company’s youngest vice president.
In 1990, he joined D.E. Shaw and Company. He helped the company build the most technically advanced hedge funds on Wall Street. In 1994, Jeff read a statistic that said the Internet was growing at a rate of 2300% per year. He decided to leave D.E. Shaw and Company to form Amazon.com, which he named after the seemingly endless South American River.
He and his wife, MacKenzie, drove to Seattle to be close to a book wholesaler called Ingram. Jeff, a programmer named Shel Kaphan, and a contractor named Paul Barton-Davis built the prototype for Amazon.com in Jeff’s garage in Seattle. They spent a year developing database programs and creating the website.
Jeff raised a million dollars to finance the company through twenty-two angel investors, whom consisted of family, friends, and former colleagues.
On July 16, 1995, Amazon.com went live to the world and Jeff told the testers to spread the word that it was open. Within 30 days, the company had sold books to all fifty states and forty-five foreign counties. By September, the site had sales of $20,000 a week.
Jeff has a unique management style. He invokes loyalty from his employees and most of them see him as a colleague. He has a distinctive, loud laugh that he uses to “charm and disarm” people. He is known as a fun person to work with, but his employees and investors know that he is serious about his company.
The main focus of Jeff’s corporate strategy is customer service. Instead of focusing on the competition, he focuses on how he can improve his customers’ experience.
Another focus of Jeff’s corporate strategy is to always provide lower prices. Many people consider Amazon.com to be the online version of Wal-Mart. It constantly provides prices that are lower than its online and offline competitors.
Jeff has achieved an extremely high degree of success in his current position. He formed and manages the largest online retailer. He defined the way many companies do business on the Internet. He’s done all of this and he’s only forty years old. He is currently worth about five billion dollars.