10 Things You Didn’t Know About Jeff Bezos
From humble beginnings to becoming one of the world's richest men, the journey of Jeff Bezos is one that intrigues and inspires.
From humble beginnings to becoming one of the world’s richest men, the journey of Jeff Bezos is one that intrigues and inspires. As the founder of Amazon, he revolutionized e-commerce and became a towering figure in the tech industry. Later, with the establishment of Blue Origin, he carried his visionary ideas into the realm of space exploration. Yet, beyond these well-known accomplishments lie fascinating aspects of Bezos’ life and personality that are lesser-known but equally illuminating. In this article, we delve into ten things you might not know about Jeff Bezos, unveiling sides to this multifaceted figure that offer a deeper understanding of what makes him tick.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and Blue Origin, has had a lifelong fascination with space exploration. He was valedictorian of his high school class and in his graduation speech, he talked about his dream to build space hotels and amusement parks, predicting that humans would eventually become a multi-planet species.
Bezos’ space company, Blue Origin, is a testament to this early passion. Founded in 2000, the company aims to build a future where millions of people can live and work in space. Bezos’ vision for space colonization is one of the many ways he is investing in the future of humanity.
Jeff Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen in 1964 to Jacklyn Gise and Ted Jorgensen. However, his parents divorced when he was just 17 months old. His mother later married Cuban immigrant Miguel “Mike” Bezos, who adopted Jeff when he was four years old.
Despite bearing his adoptive father’s surname, Bezos has stated that he does not consider himself to have had an adopted child’s experience, having been part of the Bezos family from an early age. This early family life shaped the man who would eventually become one of the most influential figures in tech and space exploration.
Bezos is well known in the tech industry for his distinctive, hearty laugh. Described as booming and infectious, it has been highlighted in numerous profiles and interviews over the years.
His laugh is considered a part of his larger-than-life personality and is often heard in company meetings and public events. It’s become such a signature trait that it’s often brought up in conversations about his personal style.
When Jeff Bezos was first setting up his online marketplace, he initially considered naming it “Cadabra,” as in “Abracadabra.” However, when his lawyer misheard the name as “cadaver,” Bezos reconsidered.
The name “Amazon” was chosen for two reasons: one, to suggest scale (Amazon is the largest river in the world by volume), and two, because website listings were often alphabetical at the time. Clearly, the name has worked out well for Bezos and his company.
Bezos is a big fan of Star Trek and even had a cameo in the movie “Star Trek Beyond” in 2016. He played an alien Starfleet official in the movie and was reportedly very enthusiastic on set.
This love for Star Trek has been a recurrent theme in Bezos’ life and work. The Amazon Alexa was inspired by the voice-activated computer on the Starship Enterprise, and Bezos has often credited the series for inspiring his passion for space and exploration.
Much like many start-ups, Amazon began in Bezos’ garage in Bellevue, Washington. The initial team consisted of a few employees who worked around a wooden table. Despite these humble beginnings, Bezos always had a grand vision for his company.
From the outset, Bezos wanted Amazon to be “the everything store.” He envisioned a store that sold a vast range of products, not just books. This vision became a reality as Amazon transformed from an online bookstore into the global e-commerce giant it is today.
In 2013, Bezos purchased The Washington Post for $250 million. Since then, he has implemented a digital-first strategy, which has helped revive the newspaper’s financial health and readership.
Despite owning The Washington Post, Bezos has maintained that he does not involve himself in its daily operations or editorial decisions. The newspaper’s executive editor, Marty Baron, has confirmed that Bezos is not involved in newsroom decisions.
In 2003, Bezos was involved in a potentially fatal helicopter crash in Texas. He was scouting for a suitable land to test launch the rockets of his space company, Blue Origin. Fortunately, he escaped the crash unscathed.
The incident, however, did not deter Bezos from pursuing his space exploration goals. Instead, it seems to have only reinforced his resolve to push forward with his ambitious plans.
As a teenager, Bezos spent a summer working at McDonald’s. In a letter to shareholders, Bezos recounted his experience flipping burgers at the fast food chain. He stated that it taught him valuable lessons about responsibility and hard work.
Despite his humble beginnings, Bezos credits his early work experiences for instilling a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility, traits that have contributed to his success as a business leader.
Bezos is known for his “two pizza rule” – the idea that teams should be small enough to be fed with two pizzas. The principle behind this is to ensure that teams remain agile and communication is effective.
In practice, this rule keeps teams at Amazon relatively small. Bezos believes that larger groups are less productive, as coordination and communication become more difficult with more people. This management philosophy is a key part of the culture at Amazon, highlighting Bezos’ unconventional approach to leadership.