Jeff Bezos is a man who needs no introduction as his work speaks for himself. But still, we can’t let go without talking a little bit about him. Bezos is the founder of the shopping giant amazon.com. He surely came a long way to become the richest man in the world, with a net worth of $160 Billion. The incredible success of his online store all over the world didn’t put a full stop on his ambition. As he went ahead and started Blue Origin, a space organization aiming to make it cheap for ordinary people to travel to space.
Now, it’s obvious that Jeff Bezos is a brilliant and ambitious man. Also, he very well knows how to combine both of these qualities to earn the only spot at the tip of the iceberg. But what people don’t know is the story behind the success of Jeff Bezos. And that is what we are going to discuss in this article.
If you want to jump to the specific sections of Jeff Bezos story then here are the quick links.
- Jeff Bezos Early Life and Education
- Early Career And The Turning Point
- The Birth Of Amazon.com
- Amazon’s competition and Jeff Bezos’ strategy to overcome it
- Blue Origin – Jeff Bezos’ Run To Space
- Amazon’s Subsidiaries
- Current Personal Status
- Jeff Bezos’ future vision
Also Read: Amazon Logo Meaning And History
Jeff Bezos Success Story
Jeff Bezos Early Life and Education
Jeff was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico on January 12, 1964. Jeff’s mother, Jacklyn Bezos, was only a teenager when she got married to Jeffs biological father, Ted Jorgenson. Their marriage only lasted for about a year. Bezos eventually moved to Houston, Texas with his mother when she got married to Mike Bezos.
Jeff graduated from Palmetto Senior High School in Miami, and while studying there, he got more inclined towards computers. He also performed a lot of part-time jobs like fixing windmills and laying pipes. And working on these kinds of jobs helped him learn the importance of hard work and money in life. His love and fascination towards computers somehow made him foresaw the incredible and bright future of computers. He was a bright student in school who excelled in his studies which helped him get into Princeton University. He eventually followed his interest in computers and graduation with two bachelor degrees, one in computer science and other in electrical engineering.
Early Career And The Turning Point
After graduating from Princeton, Jeff switched a couple of jobs but eventually landed in an investment firm D.E. Shaw. And like with his studies, Jeff also made quick progress in his work. It was his potential and learning attitude that got him the position of senior vice president in D.E. Shaw. This position was a really big deal because he was the youngest person to hold that position in the company.
But apart from all that, working in this firm can be considered as a huge turning point for Jeff, and that is because of two reasons. First, it was in this firm where Jeff met his wife MacKenzie, who he got married to in 1993. Eventually, MacKenzie became a huge part of Jeff Bezos success story. And the second reason is that while working here, Jeff finally decided to start something of his own. He decided that because he was quick enough to realize and observe the incredible growth of the Internet. So he wanted to get on that cloud of opportunity by selling the products online. Jeff was so sure that he wants to do something of his own that even his boss, Shaw, couldn’t convince him to stay in the company.
The Birth Of Amazon.com
Finally, after quitting his job, Jeff moved in his Seattle home with his wife. His ambition and positive attitude helped him raise $1 Million from his friends and family. The people who invested in Jeff that time maybe didn’t even know the payback they’ll be getting for their investment after a few years. With that amount of money, Jeff was able to start his business in his garage. The starting of the company was so humble that the desks in the office were made of cheap doors.
He started out by listing all the products that he could sell on the internet, but eventually, he landed on selling Books. And now was the time to think of a name for their company. Jeff and his wife MacKenzie thought of a lot of names, like makeitso.com, if you’re a Star Wars fan then you know the inspiration behind that name. They also considered the name aard.com, to get them a spot in the front line of website listing. But eventually, they decided to go with amazon.com. And that’s because they realized that only the name of an enormous forest could complement their largest online bookstore.
After the site was ready, Jeff and MacKenzie decided to test the site by showing that to selected 300 people. And the positive response they got from those users was enough to motivate them to open their website to the public on July 16, 1995. The company took off at a really fast pace and the popularity of the site started growing all over the country. And so much so that the company started crossing $20,000 sales mark, and that too for a week.
Amazon’s Competition And Jeff Bezos’ Strategy To Overcome It
Barnes and Noble
Barnes and Noble was the largest bookselling company at the time when Amazon was just starting out. And how big was it when compared to Amazon.com? Well, in the year 1996, Barnes and Noble made an incredible sale of $2 Billion, whereas Amazon was far behind with a sale of just $16 Million. And this was a huge challenge for amazon.com that they had to win.
Now, when Jeff was thinking of taking the company public with Initial Public Offering (IPO), the founding brothers of Barnes and nobles were planning on creating their own website. But they very well knew the potential of Amazon.com, and that is why they arranged a meeting with Jeff Bezos in Seattle. In the meeting, they offered various collaboration options to Jeff, where they could work together. But after taking a little bit of time to think over it, Jeff eventually declined their offer.
A Direct Challenge To Amazon.com
Now, Leonard Riggio and Steve Reggio, the founders of Branes and Nobles decided to launch their own website. And on the other side, Jeff Bezos started looking for investors all over the country. Now, around the time when amazon.com was about to go public with IPO, the Riggio brother filed a lawsuit against amazon.com. And this lawsuit was filed because amazon.com was claiming to be the “Earth’s largest bookstore.” But surprisingly, the popularity of amazon.com grew even more after the lawsuit. Bezos eventually included more products on his site, the idea he had in mind when he was looking for the investors.
In the year 1997, after including more products on his site and raising $54 million through IPO, the popularity and sales of the company experienced a rocket boost. The 900 percent increase in sales made the old investors filthy rich, just because they trusted Jeff at the very beginning. And all of this lead to Jeff Bezos to be named as the Time’s Person of the year in 1999. Getting on the cover of the Time magazine made the world aware of the success of Jeff Bezos.
The next incredible thing that Jeff came up with was the One-click ordering system on his website. This system was basically used to save a customer’s credit card and shipping details. So that the next time that customer wants to buy something on his website, they just have to click once to order the item.
This genius system was intended to make ordering more easy and quick for the customers. So it was obvious that even while growing at an incredible pace, Jeff never stopped thinking about his customers. Also, he knew the importance of this system, that is why he went on to have this system trademarked to amazon.com.
A few days after having this system trademarked, Jeff filed a lawsuit against Barnes and Nobles for exploiting this system. And this lawsuit eventually forced Barnes and Nobles to include an additional step in their ordering process, which was a big win for amazon.com.
But that doesn’t mean that this system wasn’t shared with anyone. In 2000, Apple Inc. got the license to use this system from amazon.com.
It was around 1997-1999 when eBay started gaining the reputation of Amazon’s rival. The idea of normal people being able to sell their products to the highest bidder was a brilliant idea. eBay made it possible for people to sell the products owned by them by holding an auction. So they no longer need to visit different stores to get the best deal for the product they are trying to sell to get some extra cash. This was also brilliant because unlike Amazon, eBay didn’t have to maintain any warehouses to store products.
This working style of eBay started worrying Jeff Bezos, so in 1998 he met the founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar and its CEO, Meg Whitman to crack a deal. All of them suggested a number of ways of working together. Like including a link to Amazon on eBay, if any product isn’t available on eBay. But for some reason, the deal was left hanging and slowly that chance of collaboration got out of the equation.
But Bezos was hell bound on beating eBay, so he silently worked on his own auction platform to challenge eBay. And this platform was called by the name “Earth’s Biggest Selection.” But all that hard work and determination to leave eBay behind was not worth it, as EBS failed to leave its mark on customers.
The Run Against iPad
Over the years, the determination of Bezos didn’t let him hold back on experiments he was doing with product lines on amazon.com. He went on to launch new products and services on Amazon, and one of them was Amazon’s Kindle for e-readers. Basically, Kindle made it possible for the readers to have their favorite books in a single device. And Kindle was without a doubt a revolutionary idea, which pushed Amazon even further within the reader’s community.
But Kindle was eventually challenged by Apple when they launched the iPad in 2011. But Bezos didn’t sit quiet and answered Apple by launching Kindle Fire. Kindle Fire also included a feature by the name “WhisperSync,” which let readers mark the page they are on. Thus, the readers can resume reading from that same page on another device without getting lost. And this all was available at a considerably cheap price when compared to iPad, which eventually had Apple worried.
Blue Origin – Jeff Bezos Run To Space
In 1982, after Bezos was named Valedictorian of his school class, he said in an interview that he wants to build hotels and amusement parks. And no! he wasn’t talking about building those on earth, in fact, he was talking about space. His true vision was to create space colonies for 2-3 million people, and that too at a cheap price. And to get closer to achieving that vision, he started Blue Origin in the year 2000. The Blue Origin was started with the same objective, which is to create a habitable place for humans in space.
The company came a lot closer to its objective when they sent a rocket to suborbital space with a successful landing. Blue Origin’s Shepard space vehicle is purely designed to carry multiple passengers into space, and that too at affordable prices. So a successful flight of the rocket is a much bigger deal than you think.
Blue Origin Vs SpaceX
SpaceX, which was founded by Elon Musk in 2002, is very much similar to Blue Origin. They both are privately owned space organizations who are aiming to make space travel cheaper. So the rivalry between these two companies is understandable, as they both want to be ahead of each other.
This rivalry came more into light when Elon Musk got into a Twitter battle over Blue Origin’s Shepard space vehicle successful suborbital ride. And this battle was to remind that SpaceX has done the same thing with its Grasshopper rocket six times.
SpaceX also filed a lawsuit against Blue Origin for trying to land rockets at sea, the patent to which was held by SpaceX. And SpaceX was successful in doing that in 2016 with its Flacon 9 rocket.
It was in 2016, when Jeff Bezos announced New Glenn, directly poking at SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. Moreover, New Glenn will take its first flight in 2020. And Jeff Bezos claimed that it will land on moving ship, unlike Falcon 9, which landed on a stationary ship.
Despite being held back in the competition for a while, Jeff Bezos never stopped working on his ambitious dream. And he plans to come back even stronger with Blue Origin’s new rocket. So while being indulged in this rivalry and becoming the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos never forgot about his vision. The vision which was to make space accessible for normal human beings by making the space travel affordable.
Jeff Bezos knew that he can’t only stick to amazon.com, and that is why he never stopped looking at what’s outside. The subsidiary companies of amazon.com are enough to put light on the fact that how ambitious this man actually is. The person who started his small online book store in a garage now owns multiple subsidiary companies. Some of those companies are A9, Amazon Maritime, CreateSpace, Twitch, AmazonFresh, Junglee, and the Washington Post.
Current Personal Status
On January 2019, it was found out that Jeff and MacKenzie are getting divorced, and the divorce was finalized in April 2019. MacKenzie got $35 billion in her divorce settlement, whereas Jeff got 75% of the Amazon stock. Other than that, MacKenzie also transferred all her shares of The Washington Post and Blue Origin to her ex-husband. Despite getting divorced after being with each other for 25 years, both Jeff and MacKenzie continue to be friends.
Jeff Bezos Success Story: Future Vision
It is for sure that Jeff Bezos vision goes far ahead than we can actually think; there’s no full stop when it comes to his ambitions. And after achieving so much, what more can he get his hands on? Well, Bezos is still working on making amazon.com available in each and every country in this world. Also, he is working on expanding AmazonFresh all over America. Which is, for now, is only restricted to three cities, which are Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. And we already know what he wants to achieve with his space organization Blue Origin, which is to get normal people as close to space as possible.
Over the years, Jeff became an idol to a lot of entrepreneurs. His decisions throughout life teach the world to not get stuck in one place. He was doing really good at his job in D.E. Shaw, but he knew that he has to sacrifice that to be somewhere he wants to be. Jeff created an empire that is spreading all over the world at a rapid pace. And while doing that, Jeff never forgets about his customers. He believes that customers are the most important asset of the company. So a company who forgets to consider the customer perspective will never thrive, no matter what technology or how much manpower they are using.
By starting from scratch, he became the richest person in the world. His determination to move forward and his success story is a lesson for each and every one of us. He taught us to think out of the box with a lot of other things. But most importantly, he taught us to get out of our comfort zone if we wish to achieve our goals, the goals which may seem impossible to others.