Divija Vaish, a grade 11 student.
January 12, 1964. Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Miguel and Jacklyn Bezos gave birth to a boy whom they named Jeffrey Preston Bezos. Little did they know that he would grow up to become one of the richest people in history.
Jeff Bezos’ ingenuity was obvious from quite an early age- in fact, he was still in high school when he developed the Dream Institute, a centre that encouraged creativity in young students. He went on to graduate summa cum laude (which means “with the highest distinctions”) from Princeton University, with two degrees- one in computer science, and another in electrical engineering.
Bezos went through a number of jobs (including a job at McDonald’s) before he landed at D.E. Shaw and Co. (an investment bank in New York) in 1990. Despite being the youngest member of the firm, he quickly rose to the position of Senior Vice President. As SVP, his job was to explore the possibilities of investing in the Internet. This introduced him to the magnanimous capabilities of the rapidly-growing Web.
He quit his job at D.E. Shaw in 1994, and moved to Seattle, Washington, where he hired a handful of employees to establish the world’s first virtual bookstore. On July 5 1994, Cadabra, Inc. was born in Jeff Bezos’ garage. The name was changed to Amazon, Inc. after a few months because a lawyer accidentally heard the name as ‘cadaver’, which means corpse. In July 1995, Amazon sold its first book.
Amazon was (and still is) a very user-friendly site. It was operational 24/7 and valued its customers’ opinions greatly. It encouraged them to post their own reviews of the book they bought, offered great discounts, searches for books that were no longer in print and even gave personalised recommendations. In July 1998, Amazon added music CDs to its store, and a few months later, it added videos. By now, the site had already established itself as a leader in e-commerce. 1999 saw the first of the company’s investments in other virtual stores. The incredible success of Amazon encouraged other major retailers to establish their own online bookstores.
By 2005, Bezos had diversified the company to include a large variety of products like clothes, electronics, hardware, etc. In 2007, Amazon released the Kindle, a device meant solely for reading books, which allowed people to download hundreds of books and access them whenever they wanted, wherever they wanted. In 2010, there were more Kindles sold than hard copies of books. The same year, Amazon Studios was introduced, through which Amazon began making and producing its own televised shows and movies.
Amazon’s yearly net sales grew inexplicably- from $510,000 in 1995 to $600 million only three years later, and ten years later, in 2008, it grew from more than $19.1 billion to $233 billion in 2018. Today, Amazon earns enough for Jeff Bezos to add $13 billion to his net worth in just a single day.
In January 2019, Bezos split with his wife Mackenzie Tuttle, and announced that he would be giving her 25% of their share in the company (approximately $64 billion). He donated $100 million to Feed America. Despite all this, he stands valued at more than $200 billion, making him the first person ever to cross the $200 billion mark.
During this pandemic, they have provided schools all across the world with thousands of laptops, they’ve employed an additional 175,000 people who lost their jobs, they plan on investing $4 billion in Covid-19 relief funds, they’ve provided more than 6 million meals to people in 25 cities across the world. These are just a few examples of the numerous things the centibillion-dollar (centi means hundred) company is doing with its net income of $7.78 billion.
The one thing they are not doing is increasing the minimum hourly wage rate of their employees, and that is why more than a hundred protesters gathered outside his home (worth more than $165 million) and set up a guillotine (a machine used for beheading people), demanding that the company increase their wage rate from $15 per hour to $30 per hour. A video on Twitter shows Christian Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse worker, demanding the increase after he heard the news of Bezos’ wealth. “Give a good reason why we don’t deserve a $30 minimum wage when this man makes $4,000 a second,” Smalls said.
Smalls had called for better safety and hygiene standards earlier during the pandemic, but when a fellow employee tested positive for the virus, Smalls organised a walkout. He said Amazon fired him in retaliation to this, but the company denied it.