The twentieth century had its fair share of influential individuals. You know the kind I’m talking about – the ones with four or five different titles following their names like “industrialist”, “business magnate”, “inventor”, “entrepreneur”, etc.; all lofty titles, to be sure. These individuals achieved fame the world over and became household names, reaping financial rewards, the likes of which most of us can only dream about.
Take for example Henry Ford, the American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company. Although Ford himself did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he did develop, and converted, the automobile from an expensive toy of the rich into a mode of transportation affordable to the masses. Then there’s Ray Kroc, of McDonald’s fame, who joined McDonald’s in 1954 and built it into the most successful fast food operation in the world. Then of course there’s Sam Walton, founder of the behemoth retailer Walmart and let’s not forget Walt Disney, a prominent figure within the American animation industry, a noted filmmaker and a legendary icon and innovator in theme park design. And what list of this kind would be complete without Bill Gates, the former chief executive and chairman of Microsoft, the world’s largest personal computer software company which he co-founded. Each of these men came from different walks of life yet all of them, in their respective successes, contributed and profoundly affected the manner in which we live and conduct business in our everyday lives.
Which now brings us to the twenty-first century and Jeff Bezos, the technology entrepreneur as well as founder and CEO of Amazon, the company that has become the largest retailer on the World Wide Web and a top model for Internet sales. Bezos, like the other men who have trail-blazed before him, has a special “X-factor” woven into his DNA which cannot be bought or taught. Bezos has vision which has skyrocketed him to the top of his game with an all-mighty bullet and it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
Bezos worked on Wall Street in the computer science field after graduating from Princeton in 1986. Like many visionaries of his ilk, he wasn’t satisfied with one job and moved around career-wise. He tried different things like working on building a network for international trade for a company known as Fitel, then worked at Bankers Trust where he eventually became vice-president. At some point after that, he had the opportunity to hone some of his skills while working on Internet-enabled business opportunities at D.E. Shaw & Co. before reportedly founding Amazon in 1994 after making a cross-country drive from New York to Seattle, writing up the Amazon business plan along the way.
And for those of you who have never turned on a computer or have just returned to civilization after spending the last nineteen years dodging lions on the African Serengeti, Amazon literally offers almost everything from A to Z including books, DVDs, VHSs, CDs, video and MP3 downloads/streaming, software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys and jewelry. Amazon also produces consumer electronics like the Kindle e-book readers, Kindle Fire tablets, Fire TV and Fire Phone – not to mention being a major provider of cloud computing services.
Not content to sit on his laurels, Bezos has also had the vision to broker valuable merchant partnerships which contributed to Amazon’s meteoric rise to success; partnerships such as the one it has with DC Comics for the exclusive digital rights to many popular comics including Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, etc. In November 2013, Amazon announced a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service which implemented Sunday deliveries included as part of its standard shipping rates. Amazon has also expanded into different areas such as Amazon Art, Amazon Games, Amazon Web Services, Amazon Wireless, AmazonFresh and Amazon Prime Pantry. And how about Amazon Prime Air, a possible future delivery service under consideration which would use drones to deliver smaller packages within 30 minutes by flying short distances from local Amazon fulfillment centers? It’s reportedly in the works. Next up on the Amazon roster are actual brick-and-mortar stores with the Wall Street Journal reporting that Amazon is soon set to unveil its first location in midtown Manhattan. As if all this wasn’t incredible enough, Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, a human spaceflight start-up company described on its website as “developing technologies to enable human access to space at drastically lower cost and increased reliability”.
So take your pick – trail-blazing or visionary – both adjectives are apt in describing the man behind the Amazon helm. Now consider this: is anyone really surprised that a man like Bezos would be looking at outer space for his next conquest?