How did Jeff Bezos start the world’s largest and most successful company? During this podcast we break down how Jeff Bezos started Amazon.com in a garage and how he intends to end his journey on the planet Mars.
FUN FACT: Jeff Bezos moved ahead of Bill Gates on the Forbes billionaires list with a networth of $90.6 billion. He is now ahead of the financially struggling Bill Gates who is now worth just $90 billion. Today Jeff Bezos owns Amazon.com, which owns Zappos and The Washington Post.
1964 – He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico to a teenage mother named Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen and his biological father, Ted Jorgensen (which is why I’m a fan of the adoption option).
FUN FACT – He was actually adopted by his stepfather, Miguel “Mike” Bezos, an engineer at Exxon.
1968 – Age 4 – His mother marries a Cuban immigrant (big shout out to my daughter Havana) Mike Bezos.
He loved figuring out how things worked and he turned his parent’s garage into his personal laboratory. In this garage he would constantly rig together electrical contraptions that he found around their house.
Teenager – His family decided to move to Miami where he quickly developed a love of computers. Here he graduated as valedictorian of his high school and started his very first business venture, the Dream Institute, which was an educational summer camp for 4th, 5th and 6th graders.
FUN FACT: Valedictorian – The valedictorian is the person with the highest grades and best academic record in their class. This person is the human who gives the farewell speech known as the valedictory. The word comes from the Latin word, valedicere (VALE-DI-CUR) which means to bid farewell.
He studied electrical engineering and computer science while attending Princeton University.
1986 – Age 22 – He graduated from Princeton University as the summa cum laude (SUMA – COOM – LOW – DAY) where he earned a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
FUN FACT – Cum laude” is a Latin term that translates to “with honor” in English. “Magna cum laude” means “with great honor,” and “summa cum laude” means “with greatest honor.” In U.S. academics, the terms designate graduates who have distinguished themselves with exceptional grades or performances in a particular area of concentration or field of endeavor.
1987 – Age 23 – After graduating from college he worked at many different investment firms including Wall Street, Fitel, Bankers Trust and D.E. Shaw. It was at D.E. Shaw that he met his wife, Mackenzie. He was asked to become the company’s youngest vice president in 1990.
1990 – Age 26 – After he graduated from Princeton University, he worked on Wall Street and in 1990 he became the youngest senior vice president at the investment firm D.E. Shaw.
1994 – Age 30 – He quit his high paying job to move to Seattle to start his company Amazon.com. His vision was to open the internet’s best online bookstore that has gone onto become the world’s most valuable company (although I believe that Google’s Alphabet company will soon overtake his company as the world’s most valuable company).
FUN FACT – Amazon.com was almost called “Cadabra” as in “Abracadabra”. That idea was struck down because CEO Jeff Bezos’ lawyer misheard the word as “cadaver”.
FUN FACT – Bezos chose Amazon.com for two reasons: one, to suggest scale (Amazon.com launched with the tagline “Earth’s biggest bookstore”) and two, back then website listings were often alphabetical.
1994 – Age 30 – Jeff launched his company out of his garage where he and a few employees began developing the software needed to power Amazon. Soon they expanded their business into a two bedroom house where they had three Sun Microstations and where they eventually created a test site.
NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “Life’s too short to hang out with people who aren’t resourceful.” – Jeff Bezos
1995 – Age 31 – After having nearly 300 of their friends beta test the website, they opened Amazon.com on July 16th 1995, when he was just 31 years old.
NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos
FUN FACT: They named Amazon.com after the meandering South American River.
FUN FACT: 70% Of Your Employees Hate Their Jobs – Forbes
1995 – Age 31 – The company initial market traction with almost no online marketing or press promotion. With the first 30 days the company had sold books across the United States an in 45 counties. After just 60 days in business the company was doing nearly $20,000 per week in sales.
FUN FACT: The first book Amazon.com ever sold was from Bezos’ garage in July 1995. The book was Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.
NOTABLE QUOTABLE – “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t need to talk to you. It just works.” – Jeff Bezos