Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon, that huge e-commerce company. He's also an investor, philanthropist, and owner of The Washington Post. In 2000, Bezos started Blue Origin, a private aerospace company through which he plans to send everyday humans on outer space flights as of this year. His venture capital fund, Bezos Expeditions, made him one of the first shareholders in Google. He's also the world's wealthiest person, with an estimated net worth of about $200 billion. And yet, there is still a lot to learn about Jeff Bezos.
Born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jeff was adopted by his stepfather Miguel Bezos when he was about six years old. Jeff Bezos' mother, Jacklyn Gise, got divorced from his father after 17 months of marriage -- she was only 17 years old and still in high school when she gave birth to Jeffrey. It wasn't until 2013 that Bezos' biological father discovered his son was the man behind an international retail giant.
When he was 16 years old, Jeff Bezos worked in Miami, Florida as a fry cook at McDonald's. He became obsessed with learning how the company's automated kitchen was set up. He then devised a buzzer system that would inform him as to when he should most efficiently flip the burgers, get the potatoes out of the fryer, and scramble the eggs.
MacKenzie Tuttle worked for Jeff Bezos at D.E. Shaw, a hedge fund in New York City. They met in 1992 and married the following year. They moved to Seattle, Washington in 1994 and brought up three sons and one daughter adopted from China. The couple announced to the world that they were divorcing via Twitter, in January 2019. After the divorce, MacKenzie will become the fifth wealthiest person in the world.
In 1994, while Bezos was senior vice president of D.E. Shaw, he noted that internet traffic had increased by 2,300% in just one year. Yet, he observed, there weren't many people selling stuff in cyberspace. After studying the bestselling mail-order businesses, he decided to begin selling books over the internet. In 1995, Bezos launched Amazon, selling only books. Originally, he wanted to name this company Cadabra, but that was ultimately nixed because it sounded too much like "cadaver." He named the company Amazon because:
Jeff Bezos was the valedictorian at his high school graduation in 1982. During his speech, he talked about being interested in building space hotels and amusement parks. He also mentioned wanting to create colonies for up to three million people, in orbit. In the year 2000, he founded the company Blue Origin, a spaceflight services company. A ticket to fly on this space tourism rocket will likely cost more than $200,000.
Not only does Jeff Bezos have a keen interest in space travel, but he is also a huge fan of the Star Trek series. Although you'll often see Bezos photographed in a formal suit or casual business attire, you can also see him cosplaying an alien. Bezos had a cameo role as one such creature in the film Star Trek Beyond. The billionaire soon after tweeted that he was now able to check off another item on his bucket list.
It's not every day that you can send an email directly to a billionaire CEO and expect a response. Though you're unlikely to hear back from Jeff directly, if you're having an issue with his company that is of concern to him, Bezos will usually forward your message to the correct department with a question mark in the subject line. In other words, that set of employees should look into this customer's concerns immediately.
Jeff Bezos loves to read. He's recommended many books for others to read over the years. Remember, Amazon once only sold books on his e-commerce site. Some of Bezos' favorite books include
While growing up, Jeff Bezos would spend summers on his maternal grandfather's Texas cattle ranch. He helped out doing odd jobs, like repairing windmills. This background in an agricultural setting influenced his future investments. For example, he put money into a new vertical farming company, Plenty, which is in the process of setting up 300 Chinese vertical farms.
Although Jeff Bezos is the world's richest man, just like his company, Amazon, he keeps an eye on cost. He usually drives a Honda Accord, not a Mercedes or a Bentley. To save money, Amazon's headquarters used desks constructed from doors as late as 2004. In fact, the company gives out "Door Desk Awards" to its employees who suggest innovations that conserve spending. He does spend money on things that are important to him, though. He owns a number of homes and has a private jet.