From a geek to an entrepreneur heading towards world domination
It wasn’t until he turned 10, Bezos found out that he had a stepfather. It had been years since his biological father left, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a billionaire, in fact, that was only the beginning of his journey to get to the top.
While spending summers in Texas, he was introduced to the space industry where his grandfather worked and so he became a role model for little Jeff, who dreamed of achieving greatness. As a child, Bezos had broad interests, particularly in science. One time, he converted his parent’s garage into a science laboratory where he made things like cooking contraptions from an umbrella or an alarm system using parts from Radio shack. He was always very bookish which was why his mother enrolled him into the gifted kids program and that led him to become a valedictorian in high school. So off he set to Princeton to study physics only to realize his brain wasn’t wired to calculate momentum and inertia. Thus, he switched majors and graduated in computer science and electrical engineering.
He finally stepped into the real world as he started a job in New York for a high tech startup in the financial industry. When he failed to raise money for a fax newsletter startup he looked for another business, and as luck would have it ended up with a job at Wall Street. He knew it wouldn’t be long when internet commerce would be introduced and he came up with the idea for an “everything store” where online transactions would be at your fingertips. After talking to his bosses and telling them his idea, they encouraged him but told him “it was better off left to someone who doesn’t already have a good job”.
Determined, Bezos quit his job and shifted to Seattle where he went on to start the company anyway. Initially he was going to call the company “Cadabra” because it had magical connotations but eventually settled on Amazon, based on the largest river in the world. And let’s just say his road to success wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows. His first item to be sold were books which he wouldn’t physically buy but bought it when the customers did. He started working in his garage with his wife and two programmers, initially, investing all his money. Starting a remarkable journey ahead, Bezos launched Amazon officially.
He somehow raised a staggering 1M from colleagues, family and investors. He started packing hundreds of books by hand but with every step he took forward he was tackled by his competitors, who often threatened to crush him. It was only when he met Larry Page and Sergey Brin, founders of Google, and invested in them that he started making profits. During the first 3 years, people thought he would fail making fun of amazon, calling it “amazon.bomb”, “amazon.toast”, “amazon.con” but Bezos went on to build the world’s most consumer centric company – inspired by founder of Sony (Masaru Ibuka).
It took amazon more than 6 years, but in 2001 they posted their first quarterly profits and now Amazon is the world’s largest ecommerce company with a revenue of over 34.2 billion and more than a billion in profit (2010). Of course there were downfalls, Bezos lost hundreds of millions when his investments went bust (pets.com, gear.com) but like a good sport he got back up and recovered.
In an interview he once said, “I didn’t think I’d regret trying and failing and I suspected I would always be haunted by a decision to not try at all”, and that led him to become the 5th richest man in the world.