Jeff Bezos

DEFINITION of 'Jeff Bezos'

Self-made billionaire Jeff Bezos is the founder of online retail giant Born in 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bezos was raised by his mother and stepfather. One of his earliest entrepreneurial ventures was a children’s education camp that he ran as a teenager with his girlfriend one summer.


Bezos earned his Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton in 1986. After graduation, he became one of the first employees at Fitel, which manufactures optical fibers. He later joined Bankers Trust, then left to join a hedge fund where he quickly became senior vice president.

Bezos left the hedge fund in 1994 because he saw the Internet taking off and decided to become part of it. He founded in Seattle that year as an online bookseller. He located the company in Seattle in part because Washington’s small population meant few customers would have to pay sales tax on their purchases since companies did not have to charge sales tax in states where they lacked a physical presence.

The company went public in 1997, and started selling CDs in 1998. Time magazine named him person of the year in 1999. Amazon continued expanding to sell electronics, housewares, apparel and more. It released the Kindle in 2007, the Kindle Fire in 2011, and the Kindle Fire HD in 2012 to directly compete with Apple’s iPad at a significantly lower price point.

Carnegie Mellon University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2008. Bezos is also the owner of Seattle-based Blue Origin, a space exploration company, and bought the Washington Post in 2013. Forbes places him at No. 20 on its list of the world’s billionaires as of 2014, with an estimated net worth of $30.6 billion.

He married wife Mackenzie in 1993, and they have four children.