When thinking about the richest man in the world we usually think of Warren Buffet, the American business magnate and investor or the likes of Bill Gates. They've been on the top of the wealthiest list for quite some time, but it seems that the age of internet businesses owners are slowly changing the realm of these ratings.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO and founder of Amazon.com, is a truly self-made man. The phenomenon of Bezos reflects the times we live in and the speed at which technology develops. Back in 2014, his net worth was approximately $30.5B, and in 5 years his net worth grew to over $131B, ultimately making him the richest man in the world (according to Forbes magazine). The speed at which he rocketed to the top is astonishing!
Let's look at who is Jeff Bezos and to what he attributes his success.
Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When Jeff was four years old, his mother remarried, and his step-father adopted him. It was then that his surname was changed from Jorgensen to Bezos.
As a kid, he spent most of his summers helping his grandfather on his ranch repairing Caterpillar tractors. Bezos says that it’s thanks to his grandfather that he learned how to be resourceful. He was inspired by his grandad who often told him that a problem is the proof of an existing solution. In fact, his grandfather was a regional director of the US Atomic Energy Commission, and some say that it’s because of his influence that Jeff displayed interests and technological proficiency since a very young age.
In 1984 he graduated from Princeton University with a 4.2-grade point average and Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While attending Princeton, he was elected to Tau Beta Pi and was the president of the Princeton chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space.
After an impressive start to his early career having declined many exciting offers and working at Fitel he transitioned into the banking industry where he worked as an investment banker. In 1990 he joined D. E. Shaw & Co, a newly founded hedge fund where he became the fourth vice-president at the age of 30. It’s impressive if one takes into consideration that he worked there only for four years.
While working at D. E. Shaw & Co, in 1993 Bezos decided to start an online bookstore. He said in an interview that launching a company was something he always wanted to do. Having his wife’s and family support he moved across the country and made his dream come true. Bezos also said that it’s easier to take risks in life if you have your family support you, and that’s a great reflection of his personality, as he remains very close with his family despite the divorce to his wife that’s circulating the media at the moment.
Many people wonder why Bezos chose books. He picked them because there were more items in the book category than any other category, allowing him to build a universal selection of over 3 million books back when he started, even those that were never in print. His other reason was that he and his soon-to-be-ex-wife are big readers, so it made it more interesting for them.
He called Amazon after the Amazon River in South America, in part because the name begins with the letter A, which is at the beginning of the alphabet. Interestingly enough Bezos accepted an estimated sum of $300,000 from his parents to invest in Amazon that many early investors speculated to had a 70% chance of going bankrupt. Despite all the criticism Bezos remained a visionary and continued to run his business by expanding it to other goods. After three years of business, Bezos took the company public with an IPO (Initial Public Offering).
He took all the risks believing that an online consumer will overtake his competition such as Borders and Barnes & Noble. As Amazon grew and became more competitive, Barnes & Noble took their sales online too. Such a move from Barnes & Noble could have been a big hit for Amazon, as the company was much larger and operated with an enormous flow of capital, in comparison to Bezos's Amazon. Bezos didn’t give up his hopes and remained focused on his customers, not competitors, as he said that one should never be afraid of the competitors as they will never send you any money, instead you should be afraid of the customers because they’re the ones sending you their money. And this focus on customers, as opposed to the competitors, remains Amazon’s winning approach.
Despite the company’s ups and downs Amazon continues to grow. In 2002 the company almost went bankrupt, yet came back in style in 2003 when they turned a profit of $400 million. In 2007 Bezos introduced the Amazon Kindle, which was an innovation that all ebook readers continue to enjoy. And, in 2013 Amazon was recognised as the largest online shopping retailer in the world.
There’s much more to Bezos than Amazon, but it’s his perseverance to keep going that should be a true inspiration for all the forex traders out there. The fact he was able to reinvent himself even in the worst of times is encouraging and building. He’s an icon and a leader, a corporate titan and a loving father, a man who believes in work-life harmony. It’s thanks to following his dream that now we can watch his other initiatives such as Blue Origin and Bezos Expeditions.