Meet the billionaire who saw what others did not see on the Internet as early as 1994. He took huge risks and made great strides.
As at March 2011, Forbes rated Jeff Bezos as the #30 billionaire in the whole world and #14 in the United States with a whopping worth of $18.1 billion. On their list, he ranks as the 66th most powerful person in the world.
His full name is Jeffrey Preston Bezos.
Jeff Bezos’ Life Story
Jeff Bezos, 47, was born on January 12, 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His interest in computers began when he was still in high school in Miami. At first, he intended to study physics in Princeton University, but somehow he managed to graduate with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
One striking thing emphasized in his story is his ‘mechanical aptitude’. He tried to dismantle his crib as a toddler, and as a youth he managed several tasks simultaneously in his grandfather’s ranch.
Before founding the giant portal, Amazon.com, he was a financial analyst at D.E. Shaw & Co. where he met his wife, Mackenzie, another graduate of Princeton University. At D.E Shaw & Co., Jeff Bezos rose very fast to become the Senior Vice president.
The Amazing Entrepreneurial Journey of Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos saw an opportunity in the fast evolving Internet as early as 1994. The Internet was rising by 2,300% annually. This little observation changed the rest of his life story.
Jeff Bezos immediate actions were precise and strategic:
He did some research on the top mail order businesses. He looked for which of them could be done most efficiently over the Internet, and he soon came up with a perfect answer – books.
Immediately, he flew to Los Angeles to attend a convention- American Booksellers' Convention- in order to learn more about the book business.
Jeff Bezos was convinced of his idea – He had no reservations in sacrificing his job. So, he flew to Texas with his wife, and then journeyed to Seattle to get ready access to computer whiz kids and book wholesalers. With such a boost of confidence and zeal, Jeff Bezos quickly drafted a business plan while his wife drove to Seattle.
They began Amazon.com in a two-bedroom house, and it was open to the entire world on July 16, 1995.
Amazingly, in only 30 days Amazon.com had sold books in the 50 states and 45 countries outside the U.S. By September (only 3 months), he had sales of $20, 000 per week.
Amazon.com grew extremely faster than anyone ever imagined. Soon, in 1997, Amazon.com went public, and by 2006, they were able to make annual sales of over $10.7 billion.
Words about Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com & Entrepreneurship
Though Jeff Bezos told his investors that they had 70% chance of losing their entire investments, his parents signed on with a huge part of their life savings. Jeff Bezos’ mother said,
We weren’t betting on the Internet. We were betting on Jeff.
Something Jeff Bezos will tell you about business ideas generally is,
For innovative ideas to bear fruit, companies need to be willing to wait for 5-7 years, and most companies don’t take that time horizon.
Also, when Jeff Bezos talked about Tips on Innovation, he reiterated the necessity for a culture that high-fives small and innovative ideas and senior executives who encourage ideas.
He believes the ‘willingness to fail’ is the #1 prerequisite for business success, and that it is important to have a long-term plan and be misunderstood by people for a while. Little wonder, Jeff Bezos’ old friend, Linda Stone, a former executive at Apple and Microsoft said that,
Jeff irrepressibly casts every challenge as an opportunity
At tough times, Jeff Bezos advises that business owners should communicate consistently with their employees, because they relate directly with their customers. He said
Focusing on the customer makes a company more resilient … We do make business decisions in a very deliberate way. We work backwards from customer needs.
The Amazon Business Idea
Consistent reinvention is the secret to business growth. Amazon.com has consistently reinvented itself.
Amazon.com expanded quickly into many other areas including toys, CDs, videos, electronics, clothing, shoes and more.
Very recently,Amazon.com announced a cloud storage service for digital music and video collections.
The Amazon.com vision is,
To be the world's most customer-centric company where people can find and discover anything they want to buy online.
In Amazon.com, they believe customers’ wants are:
- Low prices
- Vast Selection
In 2007, Amazon.com introduced Amazon Kindle which has quickly captured 95 percent of the U.S. market for e-books. The annual sales figure for Kindle and e-books quickly rose to $2.38 billion by the middle of 2010.
Today, Amazon.com has 10,001+ employees.