According to Forbes list, Jeff Bezos will be the richest man on the planet. He is currently valued at $75.2 billion. He added $1.5 billion to his net worth after Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) gained $9 billion in market value on 29th March 2017.
Date of birth – January 12, 1964, born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen
Place of birth – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Parents – His biological father Ted Jorgensen married his teenaged mother Jacklyn Gise and the couple divorced after a little more than a year.
When Jeff Jorgensen was four years old in 1968, his mother remarried Miguel Bezos, a Cuban immigrant to the United States, who legally adopted his stepson Jeffrey Jorgensen and ever since he has been known as Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos ancestors from his mother’s side were long time Texas settlers with a 25,000-acre ranch near Cotulla acquired over generations.
Bezos maternal grandfather had the distinction of holding the post of a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in Albuquerque but retired early for the sake of the ranch where Jeff Bezos spent his early childhood.
His mechanical skills were visible from a very early age known to have dismantled his crib with a screwdriver when he was just a toddler.
As of March 2015, Jeff Bezos was one of the largest landholders in the state of Texas.
Schooling & University – After the family moved to Houston, Texas, the young Bezos studied at the River Oaks Elementary School in Houston from fourth to sixth grade spending his childhood summers at his grandfather’s ranch in southern Texas.
His flirtation with science and technology is well documented; he is known to have rigged an electrical alarm to keep his younger siblings from entering his room.
After his family moved to Miami, Florida, Bezos attended the Miami Palmetto Senior High School taking part in the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida and was even honoured with a Silver Knight Award in 1982 for his efforts, in addition to being a high school valedictorian and a National Merit Scholar.
Jeff Bezos graduated from the Princeton University with a degree in Bachelor of Science in Engineering – electrical engineering and computer science. He also served as the President of the Princeton chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.
Career – Completing his graduation in 1986, and after his stints on Wall Street in the field of computer science, building an international trade network for Fitel, working for Bankers Trust and later for D.E. Shaw & Co on internet-enabled business opportunities, he made his entry into the limitless world of technology and entrepreneurship.
Amazon.com – Bezos founded Amazon.com on July 5, 1994, initially setting up his business in his garage, not unlike Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame but that’s a different story.
Portfolio.com has very aptly described Bezos as, “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.”
What actually inspired and pushed him into founding Amazon, leaving a lucrative job at a New York City hedge fund, was the “rapid growth in internet use.”
Jeff Bezos referred to it as “regret minimization framework,” which basically means he wanted to capitalize on the internet boom at the right time and not regret the delay in joining in sooner.
However, another factor that propelled him toward the Amazon idea was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling at the time that mail order companies were exempt from collecting taxes in states where they did not have a physical presence, such as offices, warehouses or any other physical property directly or indirectly related to the business.
Headquartered in Seattle, the company was initially named “Cadabra” by Bezos, changing it to “Amazon” a year later. The humor behind the name change is the fact that a lawyer happened to have misheard the name as “cadaver” which, as we all know, means corpse or a dead body.
The story goes that Amazon was named after the mighty Amazon River, “exotic and different,” which matched Bezos’ vision of making his company different, exotic and the biggest in the world.
From its rather humble beginnings as an online bookstore, Amazon has grown into an “electronic commerce and cloud computing company,” the largest internet retailer in terms of total sales and market capitalization.
Of course, the growth of Amazon into what it is today went through different stages of diversification – from selling books online to DVDs, CDs, video downloading and streaming, Bluerays, MP3 downloading and streaming, audio books downloading and streaming, electronics, software, video games, furniture, apparel, food, toys, jewellery – you name it and they have it delivered to your doorstep! Amazing Amazon!
It does not end here; Amazon is also into manufacturing consumer electronics such as Amazon Kindle e-books, Fire tablets, and Fire TV, to name a few, in addition to being one of the world’s largest providers of cloud computing infrastructure services.
Blue Origin – As part of his fascination with space travel and exploration, Bezos founded the startup company, Blue Origin in 2000. He is also known to have had an early interest in the idea of “space hotels, amusement parks, colonies and small cities for 2-3 million people orbiting Earth.”
After keeping it away from the public eye for over half a decade Blue Origin became common knowledge in 2006 when a large tract of land was purchased in west Texas to build the infrastructure for launch and test purposes.
Blue Origin is basically a privately funded aerospace manufacturing and spaceflight services company headquartered in Kent, Washington.
The company is exploring and building technologies to enable humans to get access to space travel by lowering the costs and increasing the reliability factor.
The company is approaching this futuristic probability by adopting an incremental approach, taking it ahead step by step – hence, the company’s motto “Gradatim Ferociter” (Latin for step-by-step) is indeed an appropriate one.
Keeping the company’s step-by-step approach in mind, the focus was initially on sub-orbital space flight tests building the ‘New Shepard’ spacecraft at the Culberson County, Texas, facility.
Following is the list of developmental test flights of the ‘New Shepard’:
1. The first experimental test flight was conducted on April 19, 2015, which saw the unmanned space vehicle reach its planned test altitude of 93.5 km at a top speed of Mach 3 (3675 km/h).
2. The second such flight took place on November 23, 2015, when the New Shepard went beyond the 100-kilometer mark and both rocket booster and space capsule landed back successfully – a “soft landing” indeed.
3. The same New Shepard booster was used for January 22, 2016, test flight – a clear demonstration and proof of re-employment. This time around, the New Shepard reached the apogee of 101.7 km, (the highest point in the development stage) and again the booster and capsule returned to Earth for retrieval and reuse.
4. On April 2, 2016, the same New Shepard booster was re-employed going beyond 330,000 feet mark and returning safely back to earth – this was the third re-use of the same booster.
5. The fourth re-use of the booster was on June 19, 2016, with the same success in terms of altitude and soft landing.
The first manned test flights are scheduled for 2017 and if all goes well Blue Origin is well set to start commercial space flight services by the year 2018.
The Washington Post
Jeff Bezos announced his intended acquisition of The Washington Post at a cost of US$250 million in cash on August 5, 2013.
“This is unchartered terrain and it will require experimentation” was his statement to the press.
The sale, however, was closed and confirmed on October 1, 2014, when Bezo’s Nash Holdings LLC took control of The Washington Post.
One of the first investors in Google in 1998, Bezos’ contribution was US$ 250,000 resulting in 3.3 million Google stock shares.
Bezos is also a Philanthropist of some repute known to have made contributions toward several causes.
In 2012, together with his wife, Bezos contributed US$2.5 million in support of same-sex marriage referendum in Washington which was a success.
His other notable donations worthy of mention are:
* US$ 10 million to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2009
* US$ 20 million again to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in 2010
* US$800,000 to Worldreader, founded by a former Amazon employee whose mission is to provide e-books to children and families in developing countries.
* US$ 42 million to the first full-scale prototype Clock of the Long Now, designed to last 10,000 years
* US$10 million to the Bezos Center for Innovation at the Seattle Museum of History and Industry
* US$15 million to the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics at Princeton Neuroscience Institute