Jeff Bezos; Networth, Career and lifestyle

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos formally Jeffrey Preston Bezos  is an American entrepreneur, the founder, executive chairman and former president and CEO of  world famous Amazon, a media proprietor, investor, computer engineer  and a commercial astronaut. With a net worth of around US$146 billion as of june 2022, Bezos is the second-wealthiest person in the world after Elon Musk and was the wealthiest from 2017 to 2021 according to both Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index and Forbes.

EARLY LIFE

Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 12, 1964, the son of Jacklyn (née Gise) and Theodore Jørgensen. At the time of Jeffrey’s birth, his mother was a 17-year-old high school student and his father was 19 years old. Theodore Jorgensen had ancestry from Denmark and was born in Chicago to a family of Baptists.

Jeff Bezos Childhood Photos
Jeff Bezos Childhood Photos

After completing high school despite challenging conditions, Jacklyn attended night school while bringing Jeffrey along as a baby. After his parents divorced, his mother married Cuban immigrant Miguel “Mike” Bezos in April 1968. Shortly after the wedding, Mike adopted four-year-old Jeffrey, whose surname was then legally changed from Jorgensen to Bezos.

Jeff Bezos and Parents
Jeff Bezos and Parents

After Mike had received his degree from the University of New Mexico, the family moved to Houston, Texas, so that he could begin working as an engineer for Exxon.

EDUCATION

Jeff Bezos attended a Montessori school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when he was two years old. Jeff Bezos attended River Oaks Elementary School in Houston from fourth to sixth grade. Bezos’ maternal grandfather was Lawrence Preston Gise, a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in Albuquerque. Gise retired early to his family’s ranch near Cotulla, Texas, where Jeff Bezos would spend many summers in his youth.

Jeff Bezos Childhood Photo at the ranch
Jeff Bezos Childhood Photo at the ranch

Bezos would later purchase this ranch and expand it from 25,000 acres (10,117 ha) to 300,000 acres (121,406 ha). Jeff Bezos displayed scientific interests and technological proficiency, and once rigged an electric alarm to keep his younger siblings out of his room. The family moved to Miami, Florida, where Bezos attended Miami Palmetto High School. While Jeff Bezos was in high school, he worked at McDonald’s as a short-order line cook during the breakfast shift.

Jeff Bezos attended the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida. He was high school valedictorian, a National Merit Scholar, and a Silver Knight Award winner in 1982.In his graduation speech, Bezos told the audience he dreamed of the day when mankind would colonize space. A local newspaper quoted his intention “to get all people off the earth and see it turned into a huge national park”.

In 1986, he graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a 4.2 GPA and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree (B.S.E.) in electrical engineering and computer science; he was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. While at Princeton, Jeff Bezos was a member of the Quadrangle Club, one of Princeton’s 11 eating clubs. In addition, he was elected to Tau Beta Pi and was the president of the Princeton chapter of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS)

CAREER:

After Bezos graduated from college in 1986, he was offered jobs at Intel, Bell Labs, and Andersen Consulting, among others. He first worked at Fitel, a fintech telecommunications start-up, where he was tasked with building a network for international trade. Bezos was promoted to head of development and director of customer service thereafter.

He transitioned into the banking industry when he became a product manager at Bankers Trust. He worked there from 1988 to 1990. He then joined D. E. Shaw & Co, a newly founded hedge fund with a strong emphasis on mathematical modelling in 1990 and worked there until 1994. Bezos became D. E. Shaw’s fourth senior vice-president at age 30.

AMAZON:

In late 1993, Bezos decided to establish an online bookstore. He and his then-wife, MacKenzie, left their jobs at D. E. Shaw and founded Amazon in a rented garage in Bellevue on July 5, 1994, after writing its business plan on a cross-country drive from New York City to Seattle. With Jeff Bezos at the helm and Scott taking an integral role in its operation writing checks, keeping track of the books, and negotiating the company’s first freight contracts, the foundation was laid for this garage-run operation to grow exponentially.

Jeff Bezos and Wife
Jeff Bezos and Wife MacKenzie

Prior to settling on Seattle, Jeff Bezos had investigated setting up his company at an Indian reservation near San Francisco in order to avoid paying taxes. Bezos initially named his new company Cadabra but later changed the name to Amazon after the Amazon River in South America, in part because the name begins with the letter A, which is at the beginning of the alphabet.

At the time, website listings were alphabetized, so a name starting with “A” would appear sooner when customers conducted online searches. In addition, he regarded “Amazon” the name of the world’s largest river as fitting for what he hoped would become the world’s largest online bookstore. He accepted an estimated $300,000 from his parents. He warned many early investors that there was a 70% chance that Amazon would fail or go bankrupt.

Amazon progressed drastically, Jeff Bezos selling out company stock and shares which made him the world richest man by Forbes in March 2018. Critics about Amazon came up but the company kept correcting and growing.

In February 2021, Jeff Bezos announced that in the third quarter of 2021 he would step down from his role as CEO of Amazon, to become the Executive Chairman of the Amazon Board. He will be replaced as CEO by Andy Jassy. On February 2, 2021, Bezos sent an email to all Amazon employees, telling them the transition would give him “the time and energy he needs to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and his other passions.

BLUE ORIGIN:

In September 2000, Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin, a human spaceflight startup. Bezos has long expressed an interest in space travel and the development of human life in the Solar System. He was the valedictorian when he graduated from high school in 1982. His speech was followed up with a Miami Herald interview in which he expressed an interest to build and develop hotels, amusement parks, and colonies for human beings who were in orbit, having Orbital Reef in development. The 18-year-old Jeff Bezos stated that he wanted to preserve Earth from overuse through resource depletion. Rob Meyerson led Blue Origin from 2003 to 2017 and served as its first president.

THE WASHINGTON POST:

On August 5, 2013, Bezos announced his purchase of The Washington Post for $250 million in cash, at the suggestion of his friend, Don Graham. To execute the sale, he established limited liability company Nash Holdings to serve as a holding company through which he would own the newspaper.

The sale closed on October 1, 2013, and Nash Holdings took control. In March 2014, Jeff Bezos made his first significant change at The Washington Post and lifted the online paywall for subscribers of a number of U.S. local newspapers in Texas, Hawaii, and Minnesota. In January 2016, Bezos set out to reinvent the newspaper as a media and technology company by reconstructing its digital media, mobile platforms, and analytics software.

Throughout the early years of ownership, Bezos was accused of having a potential conflict of interest with the paper.Bezos and the newspaper’s editorial board have dismissed accusations that he unfairly controlled the paper’s content and Bezos maintains the paper’s independence.After a surge in online readership in 2016, the paper was profitable for the first time since Bezos made the purchase in 2013.

ALTOS LABS:

In September 2021, Bezos co-founded Altos Labs with Mail.ru founder Yuri Milner. Altos Labs is a generously funded biotechnology company dedicated to harnessing cellular reprogramming to develop longevity therapeutics. The company has recruited prominent scientists such as Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte (known for work on rejuvenation through reprogramming), Steve Horvath (known for work in epigenetic aging clocks), and Shinya Yamanaka (the Nobel Prize-winning inventor of cellular reprogramming in mammalian cells).

The company left stealth mode and launched on January 19, 2022, with a start capital of $3 billion and an executive team led by Hal Barron.

Jeff Bezos PERSONAL LIFE:

In 1992, Bezos was working for D. E. Shaw in Manhattan when he met novelist MacKenzie Tuttle, who was a research associate at the firm; the couple married a year later. In 1994, they moved across the country to Seattle, Washington, where Bezos founded Amazon. Bezos and his now ex-wife MacKenzie are the parents of four children: three sons, and one daughter adopted from China. Bezos and MacKenzie have not disclosed their religious status. Public records, family history, and biographical details suggest that both were raised under some form of Christianity.

Jeff Bezos, wife and children
Jeff Bezos, wife and children

In March 2003, Bezos was a passenger in a helicopter that crashed in West Texas while surveying land to buy for Blue Origin; the other 3 occupants in the helicopter were pilot Charles “Cheater” Bella, Amazon lawyer Elizabeth Korrell, and local rancher Ty Holland.All survived; Bezos sustained only minor injuries and was discharged from a local hospital the same day.

In 2016, Bezos played a Starfleet official in the movie Star Trek Beyond, and joined the cast and crew at a San Diego Comic-Con screening.He had lobbied Paramount for the role apropos of Alexa and his personal/professional interest in speech recognition. His one line consisted of a response to an alien in distress: “Speak Normally.” In his initial discussion of the project which became Alexa with his technical advisor Greg Hart in 2011, Bezos told him that the goal was to create “the Star Trek computer.” Bezos’s family office Zefram LLC is named after Zefram Cochrane, a character from Star Trek.

On January 9, 2019, Bezos and MacKenzie announced on Twitter their intent to divorce after a “long period” of separation.On April 4, 2019, the divorce was finalized, with Bezos keeping 75% of the couple’s Amazon stock and MacKenzie getting the remaining 25% ($35.6 billion) in Amazon stock. However, Bezos would keep all of the couple’s voting rights.

On February 7, 2019, Bezos published an online essay in which he accused American Media, Inc. owner David Pecker of “extortion and blackmail” for threatening to publish intimate photos of Bezos and current girlfriend Lauren Sánchez if he did not stop his investigation into how his text messages and other photos had been leaked to the National Enquirer.

Jeff Bezos PHILANTHROPY:

Bezos Academy is a group of tuition-free preschools for students from low-income families, which was created by Jeff Bezos, and which operate in a manner similar to the Montessori method.

Jeff Bezos donated to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center several times between 2009 and 2017. In 2013, he pledged $500,000 to World reader, a non-profit founded by a former Amazon employee.

In May 2017, Bezos gave $1 million to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which provides pro bono legal services for American journalists. On June 15, 2017, he posted a message on Twitter asking for ideas for philanthropy: “I’m thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time working on the long term”. At the time of the post, Bezos’s lifetime spending on charitable causes was estimated to be $100 million.

Multiple opinion columnists responded by asking Bezos to pay higher wages to Amazon warehouse workers. A year later in June, he tweeted that he would announce two philanthropic foci by the end of summer 2018 Bezos announced in September 2018 that he would commit approximately $2 billion to a fund to deal with American homelessness and establish a network of non-profit preschools for low income communities. As part of this announcement, he committed to establishing the “Day 1 Families Fund” to finance “night shelters and day care centers for homeless families” and the “Day 1 Academies Fund” for early childhood education.

In January 2018, Jeff Bezos made a $33 million donation to TheDream.US, a college scholarship fund for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors. In June 2018, Bezos donated to Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a private philanthropic fund founded by Bill Gates aimed at promoting emissions-free energy In September 2018, Bezos donated $10 million to With Honor, a nonpartisan organization that works to increase the number of veterans in political office.

In February 2020, Bezos pledged $10 billion to combat climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund. Later that year, in November, Bezos announced $791M of donations to established, well-known groups, with $100M each going to Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund, and the remainder going to 11 other groups. In April 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to food banks through Feeding America.

In November 2021, Bezos pledged to donate $2 billion towards restructuring food systems and nature conservation at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Jeff Bezos is a great scientist, an entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a divorcee  and the second richest man in the world.

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