Jeff Bezos

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos' iconic laugh.jpg
Bezos at the ENCORE awards in 2010
Born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen
(1964-01-12) January 12, 1964 (age 55)
Albuquerque, New Mexico, U.S.
Alma mater Princeton University (B.S.E)
Occupation Founder, Chairman & CEO of
Salary $85,850[1]
Net worth Increase US$59.2 billion (January 2016)[2]
Spouse(s) MacKenzie Bezos (m. 1993)[3]
Children 4[4]

Jeffrey Preston "Jeff" Bezos (/ˈbzs/;[5] born January 12, 1964) is an American technology entrepreneur and investor. He has played a role in the growth of e-commerce[6] as the founder and CEO of, an online merchant of books and later of a wide variety of products and services, most recently video streaming. became the largest retailer on the World Wide Web and a model for Internet sales.[7] In 2013, Bezos purchased The Washington Post newspaper.[8] As of January 2016, Bezos' personal wealth is estimated to be US$59.2 billion, due in part to a recent spike in Amazon's stock price, ranking him 4th on the Forbes list of billionaires.[9]

Early life and education

Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen in Albuquerque, New Mexico to Jacklyn (née Gise) and Ted Jorgensen.[10] 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. As of March 2015, Bezos was among the largest land holders in Texas.[11] Bezos' 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.[12] At an early age, he displayed mechanical aptitude – as a toddler, he tried dismantling his crib.[13]

Bezos' mother Jacklyn was a teenager at the time of his birth. 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. Miguel worked his way through the University of Albuquerque, married Jacklyn and legally adopted his stepson Jeff. After the wedding, the family moved to Houston, Texas, and Miguel became an engineer for Exxon. The young Jeff 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."[14]

Bezos often displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency; he once rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room.[15] 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.[16] He was high school valedictorian[17] and was a National Merit Scholar.[18]

He attended Princeton University, intending to study physics, but soon returned to his love of computers and graduated summa cum laude, with two Bachelor of Science degrees 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.[19]

Business career

After graduating from Princeton in 1986, Bezos worked on Wall Street in the computer science field.[20] Then he worked on building a network for international trade for a company known as Fitel.[21] He next worked at Bankers Trust.[22] Later on he also worked on Internet-enabled business opportunities at D. E. Shaw & Co.[23]

Bezos founded 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.[24] He had left his "well-paying job" at a New York City hedge fund after learning "about the rapid growth in Internet use", which coincided with a then-new U.S. Supreme Court ruling holding that mail order catalogs were not required to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence."[14]

Bezos is known for his attention to business details. As described by, 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."[24]

On August 15, 2015 the New York Times wrote a scathing article "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace" about Amazon's business practices and Jeff responded to his employees with a Sunday memo[25] claiming it doesn't represent the company he leads and challenged its depiction as "a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard" [26] and to contact him directly if true.

Blue Origin

In 2000, Bezos founded Blue Origin, a human spaceflight startup company,[27] partially as a result of his fascination with space travel,[28] including an early interest in developing "space hotels, amusement parks, colonies and small cities for 2 million or 3 million people orbiting the Earth."[17] The company was kept secret for a few years; it became publicly known only in 2006 when purchasing a sizable aggregation of land in west Texas for a launch and test facility.[29]

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.[30] 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."[28] Bezos said that the crash was 'not the outcome that any of us wanted, but we're signed up for this to be hard.'"[28] 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."[4]

In 2013, Bezos reportedly discussed commercial spaceflight opportunities and strategies with Richard Branson, multibillionaire founder of Virgin Group and Chairman of Virgin Galactic.[31]

In 2015, Bezos further discussed the motivation for his spaceflight-related business when he announced a new orbital launch vehicle under development for late-2010s first flight. He indicated that his ambitions in space are not location dependent—Mars, Lunar, asteroidal, etc.—"we want to go everywhere, [requiring significantly lower launch costs.] Our number-one opponent is gravity. ... The vision for Blue is pretty simple. We want to see millions of people living and working in space. That's going to take a long time. I think it's a worthwhile goal."[32] In November 23, 2015, Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle successfully flew to space, reaching its planned test altitude of 329,839 feet (100.5 kilometers) before executing an historic vertical landing back at the launch site in West Texas.[33]

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. is not to be involved.[34] "This is uncharted terrain," he told the newspaper, "and it will require experimentation."[34] Shortly after the announcement of intent to purchase, The Washington Post published a long-form profile of Bezos on August 10, 2013.[4] The sale closed on October 1, 2013, and Bezos's Nash Holdings LLC took control.[35]

In March 2014, Bezos made his first significant change at the Post and lifted the online paywall for subscribers of some number of U.S. local newspapers including The Dallas Morning News, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.[36]

Bezos Expeditions

Bezos' personal investments are managed through his company Bezos Expeditions. Companies that have been funded at least in part by Bezos Expeditions include:[37][38]

Non-profit donations and activities

Under Bezos' direction, Amazon has been criticized as "stingy" in its corporate giving practices.[45][46] Amazon has environmental initiatives for improving its internal operations and researching climate change, has used its homepage for disaster relief fundraising, supported writers, has a Wish List functionality for non-profit donations, and Amazon Smile offers a charitable donation of 0.5% on purchases of selected items[47] (criticized as small and possibly counterproductive[48]).

Journalist Shawn McCoy contrasted the philanthropic practices of Amazon and Bezos with the comparatively much more generous Microsoft (also based in Seattle) and fellow billionaire Bill Gates[49] who by 2013 had donated $28 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, making it the largest private foundation in the world. McCoy noted that unlike many other billionaire technology entrepreneurs, Bezos had not signed the Giving Pledge to give away half of their personal wealth in their lifetimes.[50] Some found Bezos more similar to Steve Jobs, who was skeptical of philanthropy and made no known major donations.[51][52]

In July 2012, Bezos and his wife personally donated $2.5 million to pass a same-sex marriage referendum in Washington, which was successfully passed.[53]

Non-profit projects funded by Bezos Expeditions include:[38]

  • First full-scale prototype Clock of the Long Now, designed to last 10,000 years.[11][54][55] - $42 million
  • Bezos Center for Innovation at the Seattle Museum of History and Industry - $10 million[56]
  • Recovery of two Saturn V first-stage Rocketdyne F-1 engines from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.[57] They were positively identified as belonging to the Apollo 11 mission's S-1C stage in July 2013.[58]
  • Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics at Princeton Neuroscience Institute - $15 million[59]
  • Bezos Family Foundation, an educational charity[60]

The foundation gave $10 million in 2009 and $20 million in 2010 to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.[61] Bezos also donated $800,000 to Worldreader, founded by a former Amazon employee.[45]


He was named Time magazine's Person of the Year in 1999.[62] In 2008, he was selected by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best leaders.[63] 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.[64]

In 2012, Bezos was named Businessperson of The Year by Fortune.[65]

He is also a member of the Bilderberg Group and attended the 2011 Bilderberg conference in St. Moritz, Switzerland,[66] and the 2013 conference in Watford, Hertfordshire, England. He is a member of the Executive Committee of The Business Council for 2011 and 2012.[67]

As of January 1, 2016, according to Forbes, Bezos is listed as the 4th wealthiest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $59.2 billion.[68] He was ranked the second best CEO in the world by Harvard Business Review, after Steve Jobs of Apple.


He was named World's Worst Boss by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), at their World Congress, in May 2014. In making the award Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the ITUC, said "Jeff Bezos represents the inhumanity of employers who are promoting the American corporate model..." [69]

A series of articles in the Morning Call newspaper described working for Bezos and Amazon in the warehouses as grueling and inhumane.[70] An article that ran in the New York Times described working for Bezos and Amazon in the offices as a grueling and inhumane experience with many employees regularly being terminated or quitting.[71]

Comedian Stephen Colbert criticized Bezos' idea of using drones to deliver Amazon orders, instead sarcastically suggesting that Amazon should open bricks and mortar stores. Colbert also referred to Bezos as a "billionaire Busytown worm", while using pictures to imply that Bezos physically resembles Lowly Worm.[72]

Personal life

Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, have four children: a daughter adopted from China and three sons.[4] [73]

See also


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External links