JEFF BEZOS (1964 - ) Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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JEFF BEZOS (1964 - )

BORN: January 12, 1964
NATIVE CITY: Albuquerque, New Mexico
EDUCATION: Princeton University, electrical engineering and computer science, 1986
LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Distant cousin of country singer George Strait


In 1994, Jeff Bezos quit his job, packed up his apartment and told the movers he’d call them when he knew where he was going. His wife, an aspiring novelist, drove their Chevy Blazer and talked to their golden retriever while Jeff crunched numbers on a laptop and made calls from a cellphone. They stopped in Seattle, rented a house, and set up the world’s largest bookstore in their garage. The following year, sold its first book.


Born to a 17-year-old mother in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bezos never met his biological father. His mother married Miguel Bezos, a petroleum engineer who fled Cuba as a teenager, when Jeff was four. A gentle, gifted child, Jeffexcelled in school and spent summers on his grandfather’s farm, herding cattle and repairing farm equipment. At age 14, he tried, unsuccessfully, to build a hovercraft out of a vacuum cleaner. His family moved to Miamiwhen he was in junior high school. Valedictorian of his senior class, Bezos then went to Princeton University, where he graduated summa cum laude with a computer sciencedegree in 1986.


After college, he took a job with a fiber optics company, then went to Banker’s Trust, where he developed a computer system for managing investment funds. He became vice president, but was hired away in 1990 by D.E. Shaw &Co., where he developed specialized systems for dealing with complicated hedge funds.


But New York and high finance didn’t satisfy this Westerner with the explosive laugh and receding hairline. Watching the growth of the Web in the early 1990s, he made a list of 20 products he thought would do well onthe Web-besides books, the list included music, magazines, computer hardware, and software. He settled on books because no single bookstore was large enough to stock all the titles in print, and because the market wasn’tdominated by a single large player. During and after his cross-country trip, he raised several million dollars in investments, and began writing code.


By 1996, the site was attracting more than 2,000 visitors a day. By 1997, that number had increased more than 20 times, to 50,000 a day. From $511,000 in 1995, sales grew to some $147 million in 1997. The company went public in1997 at $18 a share and by the summer of 1999, stock was selling for more than $100 a share.


But did more than simply prove that e-commerce could be successful on the Web: It showed that online shopping should be fun. By adding book reviews, bestseller lists, and a feature that would help users find books they might like, Amazon reproduced as faithfully as possible theentertaining, relaxing atmosphere of browsing in a bookstore. By doing so, the company won both trust and loyalty from their growing number of customers. Ase-commerce grew on the Web to 14.9 billion in 1998, many consumers made their first purchase on kept coming back. Bezos’s site boasted such a loyal clientele that when the site added music in 1998, it almostinstantly became one of the top music sellers on the Web.


The site continued to profit from its group of loyal consumers by adding electronics and an auction component (with the famed Sothebys) in 1999.


In December 1999, Time magazine named Bezos its Person of the Year, touting him as the “king of cybercommerce.” Under Bezos’s direction, has recently broadened its product range through alliances with,, and In August 2000, the company partnered with, a California-based firm that allows customers to buy and trade new and used cars.