Online Superstore Jeff Jorgensen was born to teenage parents, Jacklyn Gise and Ted Jorgensen, on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When Jeff was four years old, his mother remarried to Miguel (Mike) Bezos, a Cuban refugee who immigrated to the United States. Years later, Jeff Bezos would credit his adoptive father for positively changing the course of his life.
Jeff Bezos grew up in a home that highly valued education. He was surrounded by people who demonstrated a strong work ethic, and a passion for science and technology. He spent summers on his maternal grandparents’ farm in South Texas, fixing fences and working with the animals. His maternal grandfather, Lawrence Preston Gisa was a retired Regional Director at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and another positive influence, instilling a love of technology and science in Jeff. His grandfather also taught him the importance of hard work and innovation.
Jeff attended Princeton University and graduated in 1986 with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. For a few years it appeared as though Jeff would be on a similar track as other Princeton grads, working on Wall Street. In 1990, at the age of 26, he joined startup D.E. Shaw & Co., now a large and prestigious global investment management firm in New York City. Jeff had incredible success at D.E. Shaw & Co., becoming one of its youngest-ever vice presidents. He was slated for even more success in the future of the rapidly expanding global company. But in 1994, only four years after joining the firm, his life took a very unique turn. Despite his lucrative career in finance, at 31 years old, Jeff quit his job and moved to Seattle with his wife to start a new venture. With $1 million in borrowed money from family and friends, Jeff Bezos set up a new online bookstore in his garage. And thus began “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore,” Amazon.com.
Jeff’s idea was to create an online bookstore that would compete with traditional stores. Experts were skeptical. The Internet was in its infancy, having only been released to the public on August 6, 1991, a mere four years before. Facebook was still almost a decade away. Most people didn’t have a home computer. America Online had just created a version for Windows in 1992, and charged people per hour to dial- up via modem. In fact, AOL didn’t start offering a flat rate for Internet access until 1996. Jeff Bezos, however, had a vision that extended far into the future—a future that most people could not see. He came up with the idea of the online bookstore when he was researching investment opportunities in 1994 and learned that web usage was increasing by 2,300% per month. Jeff was also fueled by his desire to create the largest and most user-friendly online marketplace where people could find anything they wanted and have it delivered to their front doors quickly.
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