Who is Jeff Bezos? What you need to know about the man behind Amazon
Jeff Bezos is the man behind Amazon. That much most people could tell you. But dig a little deeper, and much of Bezos is enigmatic.
Recently, Bezos became the richest man in modern history, amassing a worth of $150 billion (£113 billion) according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The 54-year-old tech entrepreneur has also topped Bill Gates in terms adjusted for inflation. Back in 1999, Gates transcended (ever so briefly) the $100 billion mark, which would roughly equate to $149 billion today.
And with Amazon Prime Day in full swing, the ecommerce wave that Bezos rode to his mega-billions is in plain sight.
We’ve collated everything you need to know about the man behind the world’s largest ecommerce company.
Who is Jeff Bezos?
The tech entrepreneur – most widely known as the founder, chairman and CEO of Amazon – was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1964, and raised in Houston, Texas.
Bezos attended Ivy League school Princeton, graduating in 1986 with computer science and electrical engineering. As many Ivy League grads are want to do, Bezos gravitated towards Wall Street, working in the global financial hub from 1986 to 1994.
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After founding Amazon (more on that below) in 1994, the dawn of the internet age, Bezos has climbed the rungs, with March of this year seeing him designated as the wealthiest man in the world with a net worth of $112 billion (£85 billion) by Forbes.
He has been married to spouse MacKenzie Bezos since 1993 – for a quarter of a century – and shares with her four children, three sons and one daughter adopted from China. Bezos is reported to reside in the Seattle suburb of Medina, which also houses fellow tech billionaire Bill Gates.
Jeff Bezos: Amazon
The inspiration for Amazon came as Bezos was undertaking a cross-country road trip from New York to Seattle in 1994. Famously, the now-ubiquitous enterprise began as an online bookstore, although now encompasses everything from music and film streaming services to groceries, following the company’s 2016 acquisition of upscale supermarket Whole Foods.
Amazon remains the world’s largest internet sales company, in addition to being the world’s largest provider of cloud infrastructure services through its Amazon Web Services division.
Jeff Bezos: Amazon Prime
Amazon is known for its uber handy services, including Amazon Prime, the subscription service which, for a small fee (even smaller if you’re a student, or are just canny with the free trials), provides users with free next-day delivery on a host of products.
Prime was founded in February 2005, and has been catering to the West’s “I want it all and I want it now” mentality ever since, offering lightning quick delivery. It’s pretty much invalidated the term “snail mail”, particularly given its rampant popularity; as of April 2018, Amazon reported the service had over 100 millions subscribers.
Iterations of the Amazon Prime franchise include Prime Music, a music streaming service, Prime Video (unsurprisingly, the former’s video counterpart), Prime Reading and Prime Pantry.
A particularly futuristic addition has been that of Prime Now, the service which delivers products to subscribers’ homes in under two hours, and sometimes in under an hour. Unveiled first in December 2014 in parts of notoriously dense Manhattan, the service is now available in a host of US states, in addition to parts of the UK, Italy, France, Japan and Singapore.
Jeff Bezos: Blue Origin
In a move reminiscent of one Elon Musk (SpaceX, anyone?), Bezos founded aerospace company Blue Origin in 2000. And it’s not just a fruitless vanity project; 2015 saw a Blue Origin test flight successfully reach space.
In the pipelines are plans for commercial suborbital human spaceflight, which Bezos envisages coming to fruition as soon as later this year.
Jeff Bezos: Washington Post
After helping diminish sales of physical print media with the Amazon Kindle, Bezos actually ventured into print journalism, snapping up the highly respected Washington Post in 2013 for a cool $250m (£190m). In cash. Talk about disposable income.
Jeff Bezos: Other businesses and ventures
When he’s not exploring space, overseeing Pulitzer-winning journalism or sustaining the global economy via ecommerce, Bezos manages his venture capital fund, Bezos Expeditions. Bezos Expeditions invests in products, services and ventures worldwide including the esoterically named Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics at Princeton University and the Seattle Museum of History and Industry.
He’s also building a $42 million clock inside a mountain in Texas, because that’s what you do when you’re as rich as he is. However, Jeff Bezos’ clock isn’t just any normal clock, this clock will only chime every 10,000 years – so you know, it’s very useful too.