Jeff Bezos was born in Alburqueque (New Mexico) and his surname, Bezos, belongs to his step-father, a Cuban immigrant. In 1996 he graduated in electronic engineering from Princeton University and he ended up working as a financial analyst at D.E. Shaw, a Wall Street company.
However, Bezos’ had bigger aspirations and despite having a well paid job which offered him stability, he decided to gamble everything on an idea which had been going around his head. Bezos became a great visionary who recognised the potential of the technological sector, which is why he decided to venture into the business of online sales at a time when such businesses were barely known.
His office was the garage at his home which he rented with his ex-wife, Mckenzie, in Seattle. The initial investment required to start the project was provided by his mother and adopted father, 300,000 dollars which they had saved for their retirement. In this improvised office, Bezos put in three processors which would be the origin of what is now one of the world’s most important companies, Amazon.
The business, formed in 1994, was originally called Cadabra, but the name didn’t work out and was reborn as Amazon. It’s said that this decision was taken due to Bezos’ love of the Amazon river, although the most convincing theory is that it was due to the importance of beginning with the letter A in order to position well on the internet.
Amazon was initially an online library, counting on a wide-ranging catalogue where clients could buy a book according to their preferences. The first sale came in July 1995 and in 1997 it already reached almost every corner of the planet.
Today Amazon is known all around the world, but at the time it was a practically unexplored sector and in a society used to traditional shopping methods, it seemed like a certain failure, but it became the reference point for what we now know as e-commerce. We can’t understand this sector today without the story of Amazon.
It was the first business to include the basket icon when shopping to complete an order and it’s primary strategy was to gamble on the consumer, winning their trust, a titanic task for such a demanding group, but it was achieved by a clear business policy: the client is always right. In Bezos’ own words:
“Our vision is to be the most consumer-focused company in the world, one where clients come and find everything they want to buy online,” he explained.
Bezos, who had already identified the success of his idea, decided to expand his business into other areas like music, electronics, fashion and food; there are few things that aren’t in their catalogue. The success of this kind of radical sales lies in the possibility of buying a product we want at any time, in any place and from any device. Amazon has been reinventing itself and adapting through the years to match consumption patterns.
Bezos is, without a doubt, one of the greatest geniuses of the century. In 1999, Time magazine named him as person of the year. Currently, as well as being CEO of Amazon, he’s the major shareholder of the Washington Post and aerospace company Blue Origins. Furthermore, he leads the Forbes list for the richest people in the world, being the first to break the 100,000 million dollar barrier, with a fortune of 157,000 million dollars.
What started in a garage became one of the most powerful and valuable businesses of all time, which just goes to show that risk is the root of success.