In July 1995, Jeff Bezos launched a book-selling website called Amazon. His first office was his garage, and his computers used so much power he couldn’t vacuum without blowing a fuse. Early company meetings were held in the local Barnes and Noble, since they had the table space. It wasn’t quite the bootstrap operation that people like to claim – Bezos’s parents invested a quarter of a million dollars, which let the fledging company leap straight into operation with few growing pains. Within two months, Amazon was selling to 50 countries and making over $20,000 a week. In less than two years, the corporation went public.
Twenty-six years later, Amazon is one of the largest companies in the world, with fingers in e-commerce, cloud hosting, streaming, artificial intelligence, and health technology. In 2020, the company made upwards of $20 billion and had over 1.2 million employees. Jeff Bezos is estimated to be worth north of $200 billion, and until January 2021, he was the wealthiest man in the world (he and Elon Musk are going to fight over that title for a while).
On February 2, 2021, Bezos sent out an email to the employees at Amazon, announcing that he is stepping down at last from his role as CEO. He will “transition” to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board of Directors. “
“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” he wrote. “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”
Photo: Jeff Bezos stands in front of a wall with the Amazon logo. Credit: Christos S / Shutterstock.com