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Jeff Bezos (AMAZON)

Jeffrey Preston Bezos (born January 12, 1964) is an American internet and aerospace entrepreneur, media proprietor, and investor. He is best known as the founder, chief executive officer, and president of Amazon. The first centi-billionaire on the Forbes wealth index, Bezos was named the "Richest Man in Modern History" after his net worth increased to $150 billion in July 2018. In September 2018, Forbes described him as "far richer than anyone else on the planet" as he added $1.8 billion to his net worth when Amazon became the second company in history to reach a market cap of $1 trillion.

Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in Houston, Texas. He graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. He worked on Wall Street in a variety of related fields from 1986 to early 1994. He founded the online retailer, Amazon, in late 1994 on a cross-country road trip from New York City to Seattle. The company began as an online bookstore and has since expanded to a wide variety of other e-commerce products and services, including video and audio streaming, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. It is currently the world's largest online sales company, the largest internet company by revenue, as well as the world's largest provider of AI assistance and cloud infrastructure services through its Amazon Web Services arm.

Bezos founded the aerospace manufacturer and sub-orbital spaceflight services company, Blue Origin, in 2000. A Blue Origin test flight successfully first reached space in 2015, and the company has upcoming plans to begin commercial suborbital human spaceflight. Bezos also purchased the major American newspaper, The Washington Post, in 2013 for US$250 million in cash and manages many other investments through his venture capital firm, Bezos Expeditions.

Early life

Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, the son of Jacklyn (Gise) Jorgensen and Ted Jorgensen. At the time of his birth, his mother was a 17-year-old high school student, and his father was a bike shop owner. After Jacklyn divorced Ted, she married Cuban immigrant Miguel "Mike" Bezos in April 1968. Shortly after the wedding, Mike adopted four-year-old Jorgensen, whose surname was then changed to Bezos. The family moved to Houston, Texas, where Mike worked as an engineer for Exxon after he obtained a degree from the University of New Mexico. Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary School in Houston from fourth to sixth grade.

Bezos' maternal grandfather was Lawrence Preston Gise, a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Albuquerque. Gise retired early to his family's ranch near Cotulla, Texas, where Bezos would spend many summers in his youth. Bezos would later purchase this ranch and expand it from 25,000 acres (10,117 ha) to 300,000 acres (121,406 ha). His maternal grandmother was Mattie Louise Gise (née Strait), through whom he is a cousin of country singer, George Strait. Bezos often displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency; he once rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room.

The family moved to Miami, Florida, where Bezos attended Miami Palmetto High School. While Bezos was in high school, he worked at McDonald's as a short-order line cook during the breakfast shift. He attended the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida. He was high school valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar, and a Silver Knight Award winner in 1982. In his graduation speech, Bezos told the audience he dreamed of the day when the people of earth would colonize space. A local newspaper quoted his intention "to get all people off the Earth and see it turned into a huge national park."

In 1986, he graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a 4.2 grade point average and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (electrical engineering and computer science); he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In addition, 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.

Business career

Early career

After Bezos graduated from Princeton University in 1986, he was offered jobs at Intel, Bell Labs, and Andersen Consulting, among others. He first worked at Fitel, a fintech telecommunications start-up, where he was tasked with building a network for international trade. Bezos was promoted to head of development and director of customer service thereafter. He transitioned into the banking industry when he became a product manager at Bankers Trust; he worked there from 1988 to 1990. He then joined D. E. Shaw & Co, a newly founded hedge fund with a strong emphasis on mathematical modelling, in 1990 and worked there until 1994. Bezos became D. E. Shaw's fourth senior vice-president at the age of 30.

AMAZON

In late 1993, Bezos decided to establish an online bookstore. He left his job at D. E. Shaw and founded Amazon in his garage on July 5, 1994, after writing its business plan on a cross-country drive from New York City to Seattle. Bezos initially named his new company Cadabra, but later changed the name to 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. He accepted an estimated $300,000 from his parents and invested it in Amazon. He warned many early investors that there was a 70% chance that Amazon would fail or go bankrupt. Although Amazon was originally an online bookstore, Bezos had always planned to expand to other products. Three years after Bezos founded Amazon, he took it public with an initial public offering (IPO). In response to critical reports from Fortune and Barron's, Bezos maintained that the growth of the Internet would overtake competition from larger book retailers such as Borders and Barnes & Noble.

In 1998, Bezos diversified into the online sale of music and video; by the end of the year, he had also expanded the company's products to include a variety of consumer goods. Bezos used the $54 million raised during the company's 1997 equity offering to finance the aggressive acquisition of smaller competitors. In 2000, Bezos borrowed $2 billion from banks, as its cash balances dipped to only $350 million. In 2002, Bezos led Amazon to launch Amazon Web Services, which compiled data from weather channels and website traffic. In late 2002, rapid spending caused it financial distress when revenues stagnated. After the company nearly went bankrupt, he closed distribution centers and laid off 14% of Amazon’s workforce. In 2003, Amazon rebounded from financial instability and turned a profit of $400 million. In November 2007, Bezos launched the Amazon Kindle. According to a 2008 Time profile, Bezos wanted to create the same flow state found in video game simulations in books; he wanted that readers would fully engage with books. In 2013, Bezos secured a $600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on behalf of Amazon Web Services. In October that year, Amazon was recognized as the largest online shopping retailer in the world.

In May 2016, Bezos sold slightly more than one million shares of his holdings in the company for $671 million, the largest sum he had ever raised from selling some of his Amazon stock. On August 4, 2016, Bezos sold another million of his shares for $756.7 million. A year later, Bezos took on 130,000 new employees when he ramped up hiring at company distribution centers. By January 19, 2018, his Amazon stock holdings had appreciated to slightly over $109 billion; months later he began to sell stock to raise cash for other enterprises, in particular, Blue Origin. On January 29, 2018, he was featured in Amazon's Super Bowl commercial. On February 1, 2018, Amazon reported its highest ever profit with quarterly earnings of $2 billion. Due to the growth of Alibaba in China, Bezos has often expressed interest in expanding Amazon into India. On July 27, 2017, Bezos momentarily became the world's wealthiest person over Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates when his estimated net worth increased to just over $90 billion. His wealth surpassed $100 billion for the first time on November 24, 2017, and he was formally designated the wealthiest person in the world by Forbes on March 6, 2018, with a net worth of $112 billion.

In March 2018, Bezos dispatched Amit Agarwal, Amazon's global senior vice president, to India with $5.5 billion to localize operations throughout the company's supply chain routes. Later in the month, U.S. President Donald Trump accused Amazon–and Bezos, specifically–of sales tax avoidance, misusing postal routes, and anti-competitive business practices. Amazon's share price fell by 9% in response to the President's negative comments; this reduced Bezos' personal wealth by $10.7 billion. Weeks later, Bezos recouped his losses when academic reports out of Stanford University indicated that Trump could do little to regulate Amazon in any meaningful way. During July 2018, a number of members of U.S. Congress called on Bezos to detail the applications of Amazon's face recognition software, Rekognition. Additionally, statements by the Trump administration, in favor of overturning the antitrust law known as the Paramount Decree, have been predicted to help Amazon acquire the Landmark Theaters chain.

Criticism of Amazon's business practices continued in September 2018 when Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (Stop BEZOS) Act and accused Amazon of receiving corporate welfare. This followed revelations by the non-profit group, New Food Economy, which found that one third of Amazon workers in Arizona, and one tenth of Amazon workers in Pennsylvania and Ohio, relied on food stamps. While preparing to introduce the bill, Sanders opined: "Instead of attempting to explore Mars or go to the moon, how about Jeff Bezos pays his workers a living wage?" He later said: "Bezos could play a profound role. If he said today, nobody who is employed at Amazon will receive less than a living wage, it would send a message to every corporation in America." Sanders's efforts elicited a response from Amazon which pointed to the 130,000 jobs it created in 2017 and called the $28,446 figure for its median salary "misleading" as it included part-time workers. However, Sanders countered that companies targeted by his proposal have placed an increased focus on part-time workers to escape benefit obligations. On October 2, 2018, Bezos announced a company-wide wage increase, which Sanders applauded. The American workers who were being paid the minimum wage had this increased to $15 per hour – a decision that was interpreted as support for the Fight for $15 movement.

Bezos uses the term "work–life harmony" instead of the more standard work–life balance because he believes that balance implies that you can have one and not the other. He believes that work and home life are interconnected, informing, and calibrating each other. Journalist Walt Mossberg dubbed the idea that someone who cannot tolerate criticism or critique shouldn't do anything new or interesting, "The Bezos Principle." Bezos does not schedule early morning meetings and enforces a two-pizza rule–a preference for meetings to be small enough to where two pizzas can feed everyone in the board room. When interviewing candidates for jobs at Amazon, he has stated he considers three inquiries: Can he admire the person, can the person raise the common standard, and under what circumstances could the person become exemplary.


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