Jeff Bezos

Founder of the world’s biggest online retailer.


Ranked #40 in 2005.

Previous positions:

#39 (2003), #30 (2001).


As a young boy, Bezos invented a solar cooker out of an umbrella and tin foil.


Amazon was originally named Cadabra.


Bezos and his wife MacKenzie wrote the business plan for Amazon as they drove cross-country from New York to Seattle. Although he warned early investors that the company could go bankrupt – which it nearly did in 2002 – Bezos also maintained that the growth of the internet would help Amazon overtake the larger, traditional book retailers. The key to maintaining an innovative business, he said, is to make “high-quality, high-velocity decisions.” A lifelong passion in space travel led Bezos to found human spaceflight start-up, Blue Origin, with the primary goal of preserving the natural resources of Earth by making the human species multi-planetary.


Bezos was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964. He graduated from Princeton University in electrical engineering and computer science and joined New York investment bank DE Shaw & Co, where he was responsible for internet investment opportunities. In 1994, he moved to Seattle and set up a virtual bookstore in his garage. By 2005, Amazon was selling a wide range of different products and this year also saw the launch of cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services. The Kindle arrived in 2007 and Amazon Studios in 2010. In 2018, Amazon’s total net sales were $233 billion and Bezos’ net worth was calculated at $112 billion, making him the richest man in the world. Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post and spaceflight company Blue Origin.


Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos (with Walter Isaacson, HBR Press 2020); Jeff Bezos: 199 Quotes from the Great Entrepreneur (by Olivia Longray, Independent, 2020).


Media picks



Jeff Bezos reveals what it’s like to build an empire — and why he’s willing to spend $1 billion a year to fund the most important mission of his life


“Bezos is living proof of the rewards of risk-taking, perseverance, and courage in business.”

Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove, Thinkers50

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