Bezos at the ENCORE awards in 2010
|Born||Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen
January 12, 1964
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
|Alma mater||Princeton University (B.S.E)|
|Occupation||Chairman and CEO of Amazon.com|
|Net worth||US$28.9 billion (2013)|
|Spouse(s)||MacKenzie Bezos (m. 1993)|
Jeffrey Preston "Jeff" Bezos (//; born January 12, 1964) is an American business magnate and investor. He is a technology entrepreneur who has played a key role in the growth of e-commerce as the founder and CEO of Amazon.com, an online merchant of books and later of a wide variety of products. Under his guidance, Amazon.com became the largest retailer on the World Wide Web and a top model for Internet sales. In 2013, Bezos purchased The Washington Post newspaper.
Early life and personal
Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Jacklyn (née Gise) and Ted Jorgensen. 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. 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. At an early age, he displayed mechanical aptitude – as a toddler, he tried dismantling his crib.
Bezos's mother was a teenager at the time. 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, worked his way through the University of Albuquerque, married, and legally adopted his stepson Jeff. After the marriage, the family moved to Houston, Texas, and Miguel became an engineer for Exxon. The young Bezos 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."
Bezos often showed intense scientific interests. He rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room. 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. He was high school valedictorian.
He attended Princeton University, intending to study physics, but soon returned to his love of computers and graduated summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering 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.
According to Nick Hanauer (an early investor in Amazon) and "others who know [him]", Bezos is described as a libertarian. In July 2012, Bezos and his wife personally donated $2.5 million to pass a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington. According to Newsmeat.com, a web site that documents political contributions made by "the powerful, rich, and famous" since 1977 (and donations higher than $200), Bezos has donated $16,000 to United States Democrats, $2,000 to United States Republicans, and $55,000 to special interests as of September 6, 2012.
After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Bezos worked on Wall Street in the computer science field. Then he worked on building a network for international trade for a company known as Fitel. He next worked at Bankers Trust, where he became vice-president. Later on he also worked on Internet-enabled business opportunities at D. E. Shaw & Co.
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. He had left his "well-paying job" at a New York City hedge fund when he "learned about the rapid growth in Internet use", which coincided with a "then-new U.S. Supreme Court ruling [that] online retailers [would not] have to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence"; he had headed to Washington because its relatively small population meant fewer of his future customers would have to pay sales tax.
Amazon's shares rose by 55% in 2011, adding $6.5 billion to Bezos's net worth.
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."
In 2000, Bezos founded Blue Origin, a human spaceflight startup company, partially as a result of his fascination with space travel, including an early interest in developing "space hotels, amusement parks and colonies for 2 million or 3 million people orbiting the Earth." 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.
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. 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." Bezos said that the crash was 'not the outcome that any of us wanted, but we're signed up for this to be hard.'" 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."
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 will not be involved. "This is uncharted terrain," he told the newspaper, "and it will require experimentation." Shortly after the announcement of intent to purchase, The Washington Post published a long-form profile of Bezos on August 10, 2013, a feature in which Bezos declined to be interviewed. The sale closed on October 1, 2013, and Bezos' Nash Holdings took control.
In March 2014, Bezos made his first significant change at the Post and lifted the online paywall for subscribers of some number of US local newspapers including The Dallas Morning News, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
He was named Time magazine's Person of the Year in 1999. In 2008, he was selected by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best leaders. Bezos was awarded an honorary doctorate in Science and Technology from Carnegie Mellon University in 2008. In 2011, The Economist gave Bezos and Gregg Zehr an Innovation Award for the Amazon Kindle.
He is also a member of the Bilderberg Group and attended the Swiss 2011 Bilderberg conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland. He is a member of the Executive Committee of The Business Council for 2011 and 2012.
As of August 2013, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos is listed as one of the wealthiest people in the world with an estimated net worth of $28 billion. He was ranked the second best CEO in the world by Harvard Business Review, after Steve Jobs of Apple.
An expedition funded by Jeff Bezos recovered two powerful Saturn V first-stage F-1 rocket engines from the Atlantic Ocean. They were positively identified as belonging to the Apollo 11 mission's S-1C stage in July 2013.
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- Jeff Bezos at TED
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Jeff Bezos at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Jeff Bezos in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Jeff Bezos collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Jeff Bezos at the Notable Names Database
- Condé Nast Portfolio Executive Profile – Portfolio.com (August 2007)
- Inside the Mind of Jeff Bezos – Fastcompany.com (August 2004)