How an Online Book Store Owner Became the World’s Richest Man

Since Amazon’s launch 20 years ago, Jeff Bezos’s stake in the online store has skyrocketed almost 500 times. Last year, it grew to more than $88 billion, launching Bezos past Bill Gates as the richest person in the world. So, how did an online bookstore produce the world’s richest man? It did so with expansion.

How an Online Bookstore Made the Richest Man in the World

Based in Seattle, Amazon has increased its global footprint and product offerings throughout the years. The company expanded wisely by paying attention to what people needed and wanted. Bloomberg reports that Amazon started out selling books. It then introduced Kindle book readers, began offering cloud service and developed films as well as original television programs.

Today, along with selling almost anything from caskets to food, the company also has a home voice recognition service. In just the last two years, Bezos’s stake in Amazon has grown by 70 percent. His rise to becoming the wealthiest man in the world happened quickly.

Tapping into the Online Market at the Right Time

When you dive into the numbers, they show that 4 percent of all U.S. retail sales last year were made on Amazon. In the digital sector, this number grows to 44 percent. Digitalization is reshaping how people do things while cloud computing technology has modified the way that enterprises now operate. Amazon’s cloud computing platform is sure to keep the company at the top for years.

Bezos’s idea for Amazon was to create an “everything store.” According to Jeff, when he decided to become an entrepreneur, his family and friends tried to stop him from quitting his day job in finance. They were worried that he would lose his financial stability. But, Bezos, who was raised by a teen mother and his Cuban stepfather, saw that there was room for something different in the market. In school, he told one of his teachers that “the future of mankind is not on this planet.”

A Technical Visionary with a Bright Future from the Start

Investopedia reports that Jeff Bezos attended Princeton University where he earned degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. Right from the start, major companies like Intel and Bell Labs were interested in hiring him, but he turned them down to work for a startup company named Fitel. After accepting this job, he created a news-by-fax company with the founder of CNET, Halsey Minor. The venture didn’t work out, and Bezos started working at a hedge fund named D.E. Shaw. He became the youngest senior vice president of the company, gaining the position in only four years.

This early success shows that Bezos could easily have remained working on Wall Street for the remainder of his career. However, the internet called to him following its 2,300 percent growth in 1994. After this, the concept for Amazon was born, and Bezos started forming a list of 20 potential product categories that he thought would sell online.

The Best Starts Seem to Be Humble Ones began as a book selling platform, one that Bezos started in a garage warmed with an old potbelly stove. Bezos invested a lump sum of $10,000 to get the company going, and his original staff included himself and his spouse along with two programmers. The group would hold company meetings at the local Barnes & Noble. After its launch in July 1995, the company sold books in every U.S. state and in 45 different countries.

Surviving the Dot.Com Bubble Breaking

In May 1997, Amazon went public, and it is one of the few early startups to survive the bubble breaking. Slowly, the company diversified its merchandise offerings, solidifying itself as a leader in the market. This caused its annual sales to go from $510,000 in 1995 to more than $17 billion by 2001.

Bezos invested in Google in 1998. He has not shared how much of the stock he held onto after Google went public in 2004, but if he kept his $250,000 investment, it would be worth more than $6 billion today. A few years ago, Bezos purchased The Washington Post for $250 million. Since buying the publication, its readership and traffic has grown. In fact, the news source surpassed The New York Times in web viewers in the fall of 2015.

Interested in space exploration since his childhood, Bezos invests $1 billion annually in his space-exploration company called Blue Origin. In 2016, Blue Origin became one of the first commercial companies to send a reusable rocket into space.

Amazon: A Gamble that Paid Off Big

Wealthy people like Bezos often acquire their money by making a gamble, and Amazon paid off big for its founder, making him the richest man in the world. While this title is never one that anyone keeps for long, it is a notable accomplishment. To learn more about Jeff Bezos and how Amazon made him a wealthy man, visit the Personal Money Store, a company that puts you in touch with lenders who offer financial solutions.