Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is a billionaire who’s had an amazing life and career.
Today, his “Everything Store” sells nearly $US80 billion worth of goods per year.
Unfamiliar with Bezos’ story?
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
Jeff Bezos' mum, Jackie, was a teenager when she had him in January 1964. She had recently married Cuban immigrant Mike Bezos, who adopted Jeff. Jeff didn't learn that Mike wasn't his real father until he was ten, but says he was more fazed about learning he needed to get glasses than he was about the news.
His grandfather, Preston Gise, was a huge inspiration for Bezos, and helped kindle his passion for intellectual pursuits. At a commencement address in 2010, Bezos said that Gise taught him that 'it's harder to be kind than clever.'
Growing up, Bezos loved Star Trek, watching re-runs after school almost every day. Early on, he thought about calling Amazon MakeItSo.com in reference to a famous line from Star Trek.
He eventually went to college at Princeton and majored in computer science. Upon graduation, he turned down job offers from Intel and Bell Labs to join a startup called Fitel.
After Fitel, he got a job at Bankers Trust, and eventually at hedge fund firm D.E. Shaw. He became a senior vice president after only four years.
He eventually married MacKenzie Tuttle, a D.E. Shaw a research associate, in 1993. She's now a novelist.
'When you are in the thick of things, you can get confused by small stuff,' he said later. 'I knew when I was eighty that I would never, for example, think about why I walked away from my 1994 Wall Street bonus right in the middle of the year at the worst possible time. That kind of thing just isn't something you worry about when you're eighty years old. At the same time, I knew that I might sincerely regret not having participated in this thing called the Internet that I thought was going to be a revolutionizing event. When I thought about it that way… it was incredibly easy to make the decision.'
Jeff Bezos was a demanding boss and could explode at employees. Rumour has it, he hired a leadership coach to help him tone it down.
In 1998, Bezos also became an early investor in Google. He invested $US250,000, which was about 3.3 million shares when the company IPO'd in 2004 -- or over $US280 million. (He hasn't revealed whether or not he kept any of his stock after the IPO).
What does Bezos do with all his money? In 2012, he donated $US2.5 million to defend gay marriage in Washington.
Bezos has also donated $US42 million and part of his land in Texas to the construction of The Clock Of The Long Now, an underground clock designed to work for 10,000 years.
He funds a private space company called Blue Origin, which is working on developing technology for private space travel.
In 2003, Jeff Bezos almost died in a helicopter crash while scouting a site for the company's test-launch facility in the boondocks of west Texas.
The company currently employees about 300 people and it's in the process of getting one of its rocket engines certified for use.
Late 2013, Bezos made a splash by announcing on '60 Minutes' that Amazon was working on drones that could deliver orders in 30 minutes.
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