If you are seeking for the world’s richest man, no longer would you look in the direction of Bill Gates, at least for now. This is because there is a new big boy on the block, whose name might not ring a bell in many ears yet.
But truth is that he had edged out Gates on the top spot, having amassed wealth estimated at over US$110 billion, compared to the latter’s US$90 billion.
Welcome to the inspiring world of Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com.
Not only did he find the e-commerce and cloud computing company, based in Seattle, Washington, he has been able to steer to the topmost spot with rare innovation and doggedness.
Founded in 1994, the company is currently the world’s largest internet retailer measured by both revenue and market capitalisation.
A proof of his hard work, is that he is, currently and officially the richest person on the planet with his personal wealth more than doubling from the previous year
Noted for birthing his own success formula, he exudes infectious confidence in being able to take risks, though calculated, and rather than waiting for the future, proposing and actually implementing his blue-print ahead of time.
This much is realized in an extract from an interview he had recently granted, where he reportedly said: “You need to be nimble and robust so you need to be able to take a punch and you also need to be quick and innovative and do new things at a higher speed, that’s the best defence against the future,” .
According to him, “You have to always be leaning into the future. If you’re leaning away from the future, the future is gonna win, every time.”
His mother was a teenager when she gave birth to Jeff in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on January 12, 1964.
She remarried when her son was about four years old, and he was legally adopted by his Cuban immigrant stepfather who worked as an engineer at a major petrochemical company.
His mother’s family were settlers in Texas, where Bezos spent many a summer working at a ranch owned by a grandfather retired from a job as a regional director at the US Atomic Energy Commission.
Bezos was enchanted by computer science when the IT industry was in its infancy and he studied engineering at Princeton University.
After graduating, he put his skills to work on Wall Street, where by 1990 he had risen to be a senior vice-president at investment firm D.E. Shaw.
He surprised peers by leaving his high-paid position four years later to open an online bookseller called Amazon.com, which, according to legend, started in a garage.
Bezos went from a boy with a love for how things work to the man who built Amazon.com into an internet powerhouse.
Amazon grew to dominate commerce and become a formidable contender in cloud computing and artificial intelligence with its digital assistant Alexa.
The Seattle-based company was worth about US$750 billion based on its share price last week.
Bezos has such a proven track record for shaking up the business sectors he enters that he has been dubbed “disruptor-in-chief”.
Like his company, Bezos has also transformed with time, shaving his head and bulking up his body with exercise. The results were immortalised in a series of photos taken at a conference last year.
And, he seems to be growing more comfortable being in the public eye, according to recent portrait piece in The New York Times.
A fan of science fiction and in particular the British author Iain Banks, Bezos has passions other than Amazon.
Bezos called Banks “a huge personal favourite” in a tweet last month while announcing that Amazon Prime video service was working on a television series based on one of the author’s novels.
Bezos has invested some US$42 million in building a 150-metre-tall clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years. Built inside a mountain in Texas, the clock will be powered by geothermal energy.
“Humans are now technologically advanced enough that we can create not only extraordinary wonders but also civilisation-scale problems,” Bezos says in a blog post devoted to the clock project. “We’re likely to need more long-term thinking.”
Bezos is also behind private space exploration operation Blue Origin, into which he usually invests money from selling Amazon shares.
Amazon CEO Jeff and wife MacKenzie Bezos arrive at the 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Photo: Reuters
Blue Origin has outlined plans to build a spaceship and lunar lander capable of delivering cargo to the moon, perhaps to support colonies there.
With the purchase of The Washington Post in 2013, the internet entrepreneur added a prestigious news operation to his investments.
The Post, and Bezos himself, have been targeted by US President Donald Trump. An open critic of Trump, Bezos has jokingly offered to send him into space.
Bezos has been married to writer Mackenzie, since 1993. They have four children.
-Adapted from AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE & CNBC