Did you know that Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, wrote Amazon’s business plan while on a cross-country road trip? At that time, Jeff Bezos was traveling from New York to Seattle, after leaving his job at D.E. Shaw as Senior Vice President. He founded Amazon in his garage and was supposed to name his company “Cadabra.” However, he decided on the name “Amazon” because it started with the first letter of the alphabet, and website listings were listed in alphabetical order. Thus, customers could easily find the website. He also chose the name Amazon after the world’s largest river in the hopes of running the world’s largest online bookstore. Little did he know that it was the start of his success as being the richest man on earth who owns the world’s largest eCommerce platform.
Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon: His Early Life
Jeff Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque. His mother, Jacklyn was 17 when she had him and his father, Theodore, was 19. His parents divorced soon after and his mother remarried a Cuban immigrant named Mike Bezos, who adopted him and gave him his surname.
After his mother married Mike Bezos, they moved to Houston, then Miami. At an early age, Jeff already showed leadership. When he was in high school, he founded the Dream Institute, whose goal was to promote creative thinking among students.
Bezos attended Princeton University and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1986 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
His Work and Career
After graduation, he was offered jobs by Intel, Bell Labs, and Anderson Consulting. His first job was at a start-up fintech telecommunications company, Fitel, and his task was to build a network for international trade. As you can see, this is almost similar to Amazon’s platform. He was then promoted to Head of Development then Director of Customer Service.
After that stint, he transitioned to the banking industry and became a product manager at Bankers Trust from 1988 to 1990.
He transferred to another industry and worked at the newly founded hedge fund, D.E. Shaw and Co. where he stayed from 1990 to 1994. At the age of 30, he became D.E. Shaw’s 4th Senior Vice President.
How Amazon Came to Be
Apparently, the future founder of Amazon had other plans than to just become one of the leaders in a company. After leaving his job at D.E. Shaw, he created Amazon’s business plan while on a road trip and founded Amazon in his garage in July 1994. He accepted a $300,000 investment from his parents and that was the official birth of Amazon.
Three years after founding Amazon, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, made the company public and offered it with an Initial Public Offering (IPO). This means that people can now purchase shares from his private company, which will help raise its capital.
In 1988, Amazon diversified into the sale of music and video from having been an online bookstore. Jeff Bezos decided to expand his market, and in 2005, he added a wide array of products from consumer electronics, hardware, to apparel. In 2007, it launched Amazon Kindle where consumers could download books and read them from an electronic device. Jeff Bezos’ goal was to offer a reading experience that placed them “in the zone” through technology.
A lot of competitors were trying to keep up with Amazon’s success. However, the founder of Amazon seemed to have a lot of magic tricks up his sleeve. Amazon went on to become the largest eCommerce shopping platform and earned $17 billion annual sales in 2011.
Challenges and Setbacks
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Amazon. It also experienced setbacks that almost led to its bankruptcy.
In 2002, the company experienced financial distress and nearly went bankrupt. Bezos was forced to lay off 14% of Amazon’s workforce. However, in 2003, Amazon was quick to pick up its feet, rebounded, and earned a profit of $400 million.
In March of 2018, Amazon and its founder faced another challenge. Former President Donald Trump accused the founder of Amazon of several violations which include sales tax avoidance, misusing postal routes, and anti-competitive business practices. Amazon employees were saying that Bezos was not paying them enough and had a bad attitude of demeaning employees. The share prices fell to 9% because of this incident. However, after a week Amazon regained its good standing and the losses were regained.
In light of the bad publicity against him not offering good wages, Jeff Bezos announced a company-wide wage increase of $15 per hour. Senator Sanders applauded Bezos and American workers were paid well. Jeff Bezos also reiterated that in 2017, it created 130,000 jobs which is actually a big help to the economy.
On July 5, 2021, the founder of Amazon stepped down as CEO and opted to become the Executive Chairman. He decided on this move so he can focus on his other passions and projects. He was replaced by Amazon’s former Chief of the Cloud Computing Division, Andy Jassy.
On July 20, 2021, Jeff Bezos experienced another milestone in his life which further increased his company’s shares. He went on a suborbital flight with his brother Mark Bezos, which lasted for 10 minutes and reached an altitude of 66.5 miles.
Currently, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon is worth $200 billion as of August 2021 and is considered the richest man on earth as published by Forbes and Bloomberg.
What lessons can we learn from the founder of Amazon?
First, big things can happen in small beginnings. Jeff Bezos was just an ordinary man with high intelligence. He wasn’t even sure his online bookstore would become a hit.
Second, never be afraid to dream. Imagine, he was just looking out the window during a trip when he suddenly had a brilliant idea. Plus, the fact that he founded the company in something as simple as a garage is promising. Why do great things come from garages? Just like when Steve Jobs founded Apple in his garage, too.
Lastly, never be afraid to stand up after a fall. No matter how many stones were thrown at him and doubts cast against his ideas, Jeff Bezos still became successful.
What about you? When will you start living your dream? If you need help jumpstarting your dream business, connect with us and we’ll help you fulfill your goals.
“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.”— Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
I admire this man even though I think some of Amazon’s seller policies are unfair. I guess that’s how Amazon shows being customer-focused.
Guess I should spend more time in my garage!