Jeff Bezos

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“What we need to do is always lean into the future; when the world changes around you and when it changes against you – what used to be a tail wind is now a head wind – you have to lean into that and figure out what to do because complaining isn’t a strategy.”

Amazon

Jeffrey PrestonJeffBezos (/ˈbzs/;[5] born January 12, 1964) is an American entrepreneur and investor. He is a technology entrepreneur who has played a role in the growth of e-commerce[6] as the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, an online merchant of books and later of a wide variety of products. Amazon.com became the largest retailer on the World Wide Web and a model for Internet sales.[7] In 2013, Bezos purchased The Washington Post newspaper.[8] As of March 2015, Bezos’s personal wealth is estimated to be US$ 50 billion, due in part to a recent spike in Amazon’s stock price, ranking him 15th on the Forbes list of billionaires.[2]

Early and personal long life

Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Jacklyn (née Gise) and Ted Jorgensen.[9] His maternal ancestors were settlers who lived in Texas, and over the generations acquired a 25,000-acre (101 km2 or 39 miles2) ranch near Cotulla. As of March 2015, Bezos was among the largest land holders in Texas.[10] Bezos’s maternal grandfather was a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Albuquerque. He retired early to the ranch, where Bezos spent many summers as a youth, working with him.[11] At an early age, he displayed mechanical aptitude – as a toddler, he tried dismantling his crib.[12]

Bezos’s mother Jacklyn was a teenager at the time of his birth. Her marriage to his father lasted a little more than a year. When Jeff was four, she remarried, to Miguel Bezos, a Cuban who immigrated to the United States alone when he was fifteen years old. Miguel worked his way through the University of Albuquerque, married Jacklyn and legally adopted his stepson Jeff. After the wedding, the family moved to Houston, Texas, and Miguel became an engineer for Exxon. The young Jeff attended River Oaks Elementary School in Houston from fourth to sixth grade. As a child, he spent summers at his grandfather’s ranch in southern Texas, “laying pipe, vaccinating cattle and fixing windmills.”[13]

Bezos often displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency; he once rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room.[14] The family moved to Miami, Florida, where he attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School. While in high school, he attended the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida, receiving a Silver Knight Award in 1982.[15] He was high school valedictorian[16] and was a National Merit Scholar.[17]

He attended Princeton University, intending to study physics, but soon returned to his love of computers and graduated summa cum laude, with two Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. While at Princeton, he was elected to the honor societies Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. He also served as the President of the Princeton chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.[18]

Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, have four children, a daughter adopted from China and three sons.[4] [19]

Business career

After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Bezos worked on Wall Street in the computer science field.[20] Then he worked on building a network for international trade for a company known as Fitel.[21] He next worked at Bankers Trust.[22] Later on he also worked on Internet-enabled business opportunities at D. E. Shaw & Co.[23]

Amazon.com

Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994 after making a cross-country drive from New York to Seattle, writing up the Amazon business plan on the way. He initially set up the company in his garage.[24] He had left his “well-paying job” at a New York City hedge fund after learning “about the rapid growth in Internet use”, which coincided with a then-new U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that mail order catalogs were not required to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence.”[13]

Bezos is known for his attention to business details. As described by Portfolio.com, he “is at once a happy-go-lucky mogul and a notorious micromanager: “an executive who wants to know about everything from contract minutiae to how he is quoted in all Amazon press releases.”[24]

On August 15, 2015 the New York Times wrote a scathing article “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace” about Amazon’s business practices and Jeff responded to his employees with a Sunday memo[25] claiming it doesn’t represent the company he leads and challenged its depiction as “a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard” [26] and to contact him directly if true.

Blue Origin

In 2000, Bezos founded Blue Origin, a human spaceflight startup company,[27] partially as a result of his fascination with space travel,[28] including an early interest in developing “space hotels, amusement parks, colonies and small cities for 2 million or 3 million people orbiting the Earth.”[16] The company was kept secret for a few years until it became publicly known only in 2006 when purchasing a sizable aggregation of land in west Texas for a launch and test facility.[29]

In a 2011 interview, Bezos indicated that he founded the space company to help enable “anybody to go into space” and stated that the company was committed to decreasing the cost and increasing the safety of spaceflight.[30] Blue Origin is “one of several start-ups aiming to open up space travel to paying customers. Like Amazon, the company is secretive, but [in September 2011] revealed that it had lost an unmanned prototype vehicle during a short-hop test flight. Although this was a setback, the announcement of the loss revealed for the first time just how far Blue Origin’s team had advanced.”[28] Bezos said that the crash was ‘not the outcome that any of us wanted, but we’re signed up for this to be hard.'”[28] A profile published in 2013 described a 1982 Miami Herald interview he gave after he was named high school class valedictorian. The 18-year-old Bezos “said he wanted to build space hotels, amusement parks and colonies for 2 million or 3 million people who would be in orbit. ‘The whole idea is to preserve the earth’ he told the newspaper …. The goal was to be able to evacuate humans. The planet would become a park.”[4]

In 2013, Bezos reportedly discussed commercial spaceflight opportunities and strategies with Richard Branson, multibillionaire founder of Virgin Group and Chairman of Virgin Galactic.[31]

In 2015, Bezos further discussed the motivation for his spaceflight-related business when he announced a new orbital launch vehicle under development for late-2010s first flight. He indicated that his ambitions in space are not location dependent—Mars, Lunar,asteroidal, etc.—”we want to go everywhere, [requiring significantly lower launch costs.] Our number-one opponent is gravity. … The vision for Blue is pretty simple. We want to see millions of people living and working in space. That’s going to take a long time. I think it’s a worthwhile goal.”[32]

The Washington Post

On August 5, 2013, Bezos announced his purchase of The Washington Post for $250 million in cash. The sale is personal to Bezos. Amazon.com is not to be involved.[33] “This is uncharted terrain,” he told the newspaper, “and it will require experimentation.”[33]Shortly after the announcement of intent to purchase, The Washington Post published a long-form profile of Bezos on August 10, 2013.[4] The sale closed on October 1, 2013, and Bezos’ Nash Holdings took control.[34]

In March 2014, Bezos made his first significant change at the Post and lifted the online paywall for subscribers of some number of U.S. local newspapers including The Dallas Morning News, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.[35]



 

This profile is partly adapted from a Wikipedia entry on Jeff Bezos, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

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