US computer entrepreneur who founded the world-famous Internet retailer Amazon.com. From an initial investment in 1997 of US$300,000, the company grew to become one of the world's largest shopping sites on the Internet. By the end of 2006 Amazon recorded annual sales over $10.7 billion.
Bezos launched what was advertised as the ‘Earth's biggest bookstore’ in July 1995, delivering goods from his own garage in Seattle, Washington. Soon attracting 3 million subscribers, when Amazon was publicly traded on Nasdaq in May 1997, Bezos became one of the first Internet billionaires. Bezos patented the concept of one-click technology to make the site easily navigable and, by pioneering subscriber book reviews and interactive novels, he created a ‘customer-centric’ Internet community. He expanded the business to CD, software, and video retailing in 1998, and has since included electronics, clothing, toys and games, and baby products. In 2007, Amazon introduced its handheld electronic reading device, the Kindle, to support sales of electronic books.
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bezos graduated from Princeton University with honours in electrical engineering and computer science in 1986. After working for Fitel, a high-tech start-up company in New York for two years, he joined Bankers Trust Company where he developed computer systems to manage more than US$250 million in assets and was appointed the youngest vice-president in February 1990. He moved to D E Shaw & Co in December, where as a money manager he helped to build technically sophisticated, quantitative hedge funds and was appointed senior vice-president in 1992. He left the company in 1994, launching Amazon in July 1995.
While working on Wall Street, Bezos observed the phenomenal growth in Internet usage and moved to Seattle, Washington, in June 1994 to see if he could make money out of online retailing. He spent a year developing database programmes and creating the Web site before launching Amazon.com in 1995. Amazon was one of the first companies to make the Internet safe for shopping by encrypting credit card numbers and storing them on separate systems.
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