There’s no doubt that Jeff Bezos would come to mind when you think of entrepreneurship.
After all, he founded one of the biggest online retailers in the world, Amazon, when a ton of people didn’t even know the Internet existed.
He’s also famous for being one of the wealthiest people in the world.
But besides these common facts, there are other interesting things about his life that not a lot of people know.
So here are 37 facts about Jeff Bezos that you can share with your entrepreneurial friends.
Jacklyn Gise gave birth to Jeff Bezos when she was just 16. His father, Ted Jorgensen, was 18. They divorced after seventeen months of marriage. Jeff later gained his surname from his mother’s second husband, Miguel Bezos.
At 16, Jeff Bezos started working at McDonald’s as a summer job. Bezos believes this made him more responsible and good at working under pressure. It also kindled his passion for service automation, customer service, and employee management.
Bezos went to Princeton University to study physics but later switched to electrical engineering and computer science. Then in 1986, he graduated with the highest distinction.
In his twenties, Jeff Bezos had a successful career trajectory, starting as a debugger at Fitel and rising to become head of development and director of customer service. He later became the vice president at D.E Shaw, his last position before founding Amazon.
Amazon was founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos and his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, who received 25% of their Amazon stock worth $35.6 billion in their 2019 divorce settlement.
Bezos initially considered naming his e-commerce company “Cadabra” but changed it after people misheard it as “cadaver.”
Jeff Bezos’ had other business name ideas, including “MakeItSo,” and “Relentless,” but ended up with “Amazon” because it started with the letter “a,” which was important for visibility, and he liked the association with the largest river in the world.
Bezos used a door as his desk during the early years of Amazon to save money, as doors were more affordable. Over time door desks came to become a symbol of frugality at Amazon.
He is obsessed with customers and sees their feedback as an opportunity to improve, which is reflected in one of Amazon’s leadership principles.
Bezos has a public Amazon email address, and when he comes across interesting customer complaints, he forwards them to Amazon executives with a single question mark.
Jeff Bezos became a millionaire at the age of 33 and a billionaire at the age of 35.
Despite being worth $10 billion in 1999, Bezos still chose to drive a 1997 Honda Accord.
He washes the dishes every night, jokingly calling it one of the sexiest things he does. Many entrepreneurs enjoy washing dishes, which research suggests can reduce stress and boost creativity.
Bezos founded a space exploration company called Blue Origin on September 8, 2000, two years earlier than Elon Musk’s SpaceX and four years earlier than Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. According to Bezos, it’s his most important work.
Jeff Bezos admitted to being superstitious during an interview with Shah Rukh Khan in Mumbai, sharing that he wears lucky boots to prevent failure during every Blue Origin rocket launch.
Bezos survived a helicopter crash in 2003. The accident happened due to a strong wind that made the pilot lose control of the helicopter. Luckily, all passengers survived and weren’t seriously injured.
In 2004, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk ate at a restaurant to discuss space.
Back in 2012, Jeff Bezos used a Blackberry phone. He loved it so much that he even used it as an inspiration for the design of the first Kindle.
In 2014, Jeff Bezos was evacuated by helicopter from a vacation on the Galapagos Islands due to a kidney stone attack, then flown by private jet back to the US for treatment. Despite the situation, he joked in an email to his spokesperson, “Galapagos: five stars. Kidney stones: zero stars.”
Bezos, a huge Star Trek fan, named his dog Kamala and his company Zefram after characters from the show. Star Trek also influenced the design of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and inspired Bezos to start Blue Origin.
He had a cameo in the 2016 film, Star Trek Beyond, playing the role of an alien.
On July 27, 2017, Jeff Bezos surpassed Bill Gates to become the wealthiest person in the world for a few hours before Gates regained his position. In 2018 Bezos surpassed Gates again, where he remained until Elon Musk replaced him in 2021.
Bezos hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge yet, but his ex-wife did in 2019. It’s a campaign started in 2010 by Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffet that encourages other wealthy people to give most of their wealth to a good cause.
Jeff bought two paintings in 2019: Hurting the World Radio #2 for $52.5 million and Kerry James Marshall’s Vignette 19 for $18.5 million.
He bought the Warner Estate in February 2020 for $165 million. This set a new record for the most expensive home sold in California, replacing Sanctuary at Loon Point, which sold for $160 million.
On July 5, 2021, Jeff Bezos stepped down as the CEO of Amazon to focus more on his other businesses. Andy Jassy, who founded Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2003, was appointed as the new CEO.
Bezos fulfilled his childhood dream of going to space on July 20, 2021, aboard a Blue Origin rocket. The 10-minute trip accommodated six passengers and included three minutes of zero-gravity experience. He said that his purpose was to demonstrate the safety of the rockets for future space tourism.
While in space, Jeff Bezos threw and ate Skittles with the other passengers.
Jeff Bezos is 5’7 (152 cm) tall, making him 2 inches (5 cm) shorter than the average US male.
His favorite business book is Built to Last by Jerry I. Porras and Jim Collins. It reveals what makes companies visionary and how they can last in their industry for a long time.
Jeff Bezos is known for his adventurous palate. He ate an octopus with Woot’s founder to show he’s willing to try new things, and in 2018, he also tried iguana at the Explorer’s Club Annual Dinner, where he received an award.
He banned Microsoft PowerPoint in executive meetings at Amazon and instead requires a six-page memo to be read and discussed. He believes this forces clear thinking and considers it one of the best decisions they’ve made at Amazon.
Jeff Bezos’ annual salary at Amazon remained constant at $81,840, a typical middle-class American income, for over 20 years. However, the value of Amazon’s stock has increased significantly, making Bezos one of the wealthiest people in the world.
He has a distinctive laugh. Some people say that his laugh has become more villainous as he’s gotten richer.
Amazon spends $1.6 million every year on Jeff Bezos’ security. On top of this, bulletproof panels worth $180,000 were placed inside his office in Seattle.
The net worth of Jeff Bezos is more than the GDP of numerous countries.
Jeff Bezos may be criticized for being one of the wealthiest people today, but there’s more to know about him besides his wealth.
He has a knack for making jokes after experiencing life-threatening incidents and isn’t afraid to break the norm.
The billionaire also had humble beginnings, which serve as an inspiration to those who wish to start their own business.
Budding entrepreneurs can also learn from his business principles that made Amazon what it is today.
Whether you like him for his achievements or despise him for his enormous wealth, it can’t be denied that he has reached the pinnacle of success that few could achieve in multiple lifetimes.