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amazon: how a short-order cook became a billionaire

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When you think of online shopping, the big five online shopping conglomerates instantly spring to mind. Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and who since the beginning of online shopping, when the ultra-slow dialup procedure, indicative of slow internet connection was the only way online users could get online in their quest for online shopping bargains was the norm. A pursuit which today we take for granted.

The date was July 5th 1994, and Amazon, under the direction of Jeff Bezos, was about to change the world in what would become a revolutionary way people did their everyday shopping. The online world would as of that day change beyond recognition, in-fact the world we live in would grow ever smaller as people searched for that elusive online bargain.

Jeff Bezos described by Nellie Bowles of The New York Times as “a brilliant but mysterious and coldblooded corporate titan,” was born  Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen on the 12th of January 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and raised in Houston, Texas.

His mother, Jacklyn a 17-year-old high school student and his father made a living fixing bikes in a shop which he owned. The marriage of Jacklyn and his biological father was not a successful one and ended when his mother and father divorced. Following the divorce, Jacklyn met and married a Cuban immigrant named Miguel "Mike" Bezos in April 1968. He would later adopt the then four-year-old Jorgenson as his own, thus changing his name to “Bezos’.

Not long after the marriage and the adoption, the family then moved to Houston, Texas. Jeff then attended the River Oaks Elementary School until once again the family decided to move to Miami, Florida where the young Bezos attended the Miami Palmetto High School. It was while attending this high school that Jeff Bezos got his first taste of working for a living as a short-order cook at the local McDonalds Restaurant. Here he worked during the breakfast shift, before attending school.

In pursuit of a product

Back in the hay days of 1994, the internet was expanding at an incredible rate, some say by as much as 2,300% every year. At that time Bezos was working for D. E. Shaw & Company, an investment management company located in New York City. He was paid handsomely for his efforts earning more than $1 million per year. It has to be said that most people would have been happy with this salary, but Mr. Bezos was not what could be called your average thinking man, he was in-fact so drenched in entrepreneurial oils that he knew if he did not capitalize on the worldwide web, then someone else would.

The first priority for both him and his wife, MacKenzie was, location, location, location. Where else would be better than where many other internet startup companies had chosen., ompanies like the new Microsoft Corporation, who at that time was based in the Seattle area of Washington, where he figured he could persuade some of their technically-minded people to join him.

At this point, I should let you all know that our future billionaire did not even have a business plan or a name for his company, but for both him and his wife this was not a problem, so off they went in the family 1988 Chevy Blazer with all their belongings, bound for Seattle. The business plan would be written on the way, as would both the name of the company and what product the company would be selling.

Just why Bezos decided on Amazon as a name for his company has always been steeped in mystery and folklore. However, if the truth be known, the name Amazon although being the name of one of the world’s longest rivers was at the start of the alphabet, and as search engine optimisation (SEO) was not what it is today, the name Amazon would, if used in a search pattern, be one of the first items a customer would see on his or her computer screen.

Product was a simple case of drawing up a list of the best products being sold online at that time, books topped that list mainly because of the many different titles to choose from, so books it was.

So with both product and brand name sorted and a $300,000 loan from his parents along with his own money Amazon burst onto the internet. They used the garage in their two-bedroom house in the Washington suburb of Bellevue, which both he and his wife had just purchased, as their headquarters.

From day one, it was evident to all that Jeff Bezos was not going to stick with his initial business plan of just selling books, he wanted to form a company which would hold under its umbrella every type of product available at that time. His first employee, one of four a Shel Kaplan, was hired to implement a website with Bezo’s ideas in mind, which he did, the website went online in June 1995. Amazon was now available for anyone who had access to a computer.

At this point, the term “from little acorns” springs to-mind, from 4 employees in 1995 to 566,000 employees in 2016 enlightens us in no uncertain terms as to the incredible rate of growth Amazon enjoyed in such a short period. Another indicator of its growth can be seen in the amount of profits Amazon is now generating.

In 2018 Amazon reported a mammoth US$10.07 billion, an increase of over 30.9% when compared to the previous year.  Then in November 2018 bankers worldwide were astounded to realize that Amazon's actual market value was worth over US$803 billion, giving credence to the term “from little acorns grow big trees.”

Over the years it has to be said that it was not all good news for Amazon, in fact, it did take them many years to show any profit what so ever. For example, during 1997 – 1998 they had an offer over 3.1 million titles for sale and reported sales of $610 million, but as shocking as it seems still recorded a loss of $124 million. However, with continued perseverance, Amazon then turned into the mega-company we know today.

Today that website which one man first created in the garage of a two-bedroom house back in 2016, now gets a staggering 130 million customers to its US website per month alone, once again proving“from little acorns grow big trees.”

So many thanks once again for taking the time to read this short narrative and I hope to see you over at BargainBrute.Com, voted the best place to shop online, period.

Stay safe and thanks for reading.


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