Jeffrey Preston Bezos was born on January 12th 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His family had acquired a 250,000 acre ranch in Cotulla, where Bezos spent most of his childhood summers working with his grandfather. At a young age Bezos started displaying his interests when he converted his parents’ garage into a laboratory for his science projects.
The Bezos family moved to Florida, where he attended Miami Palmetto Senior High School. While in high school, Bezos fell in love with computers. After high school he enrolled to Princeton University to study physics, but decided to continue with his love of computers, and graduated with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering.
Bezos joined FITEL, a high-tech start-up company in New York building a network to conduct international trade. Two years later, Bezos began working for Bankers Trust Company in New York, where he led the development of their computer systems and became the company’s youngest vice president in 1990.
Later that year Bezos went to work for D.E. Shaw & Co from 1990 to 1994 which specialized in the application of computer science to the stock market, where he helped build one of the most technically sophisticated quantitative hedge funds on Wall Street. He was promoted from the “in-house geek” to money manager, then in 1992, became their youngest senior vice president. While working at Shaw, Bezos met his wife, Mackenzie.
In 1994 Bezos observed that Internet usage was increasing by 2300 percent a year. He saw an opportunity for a new era of commerce, and immediately began considering the possibilities. Books were the product, for which no mail order catalogue existed, so he attended the American Booksellers’ Convention to learn everything he could about the book business. He found all that was needed was a location on the Internet, where the book-buying public could search the available stock and place orders directly. Bezos’s employers knocked back the idea, so he went into business for himself.
Bezos and his wife moved to Seattle, where they had access to the book wholesaler Ingram, and to the computer talent Bezos would need for his project. The company would be called Amazon for the seemingly endless South American river with its numberless branches.
They set up the business in a two-bedroom house, running three Sun microstations on tables he’d made out of doors from Home Depot. When the test site was up and running, Bezos asked 300 people to test it. The code worked across many different computer platforms and on July 16, 1995, he opened the website site to the world. With word of mouth spreading in just 30 days with no advertising, Amazon.com had sold books in all 50 states and 45 foreign countries.
By September 1995, the site had reached sales of $20,000 a week. Bezos and his team continued to improve the site and introduced new features such as one-click shopping, customer reviews, and e-mail order verification.
From the beginning Bezos told his original investors there was a 70 percent chance they would lose their investment, but his parents still signed on for $300,000. As six per cent owners of Amazon.com, they became billionaires. The stock has split three times, and about a third of the shares are still held by family members. Amazon later moved into music CDs, videos, toys, electronics, clothing and more, and when the Internet’s stock market bubble burst, while other dot.com start-ups evaporated, Amazon continued to post profits.
Today, Bezos and Mackenzie live north of Seattle and are ever more concerned with philanthropic activities. “Giving away money takes as much attention as building a successful company,” he has said. Bezos is also presently worth an estimated $2 to more than $9 billion.