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  • Writer's pictureJanice Lin

Jeff Bezos’ Legacy

He is the founder and current-CEO of your beloved e-commerce company, Amazon, and the richest man on Earth*: Jeff Bezos. Bezos was born on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He moved to Miami with his family, where his love for computers was sparked. During high school, he started his first business: the Dream Institute, an educational summer camp for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Bezos graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University in 1986 with a degree in computer science and electrical engineering. He initially found work at several firms on Wall Street, including Fitel, Bankers Trust and the investment firm D.E. Shaw. While his career in finance was extremely lucrative, Bezos chose to make a risky move into the nascent world of e-commerce. He came up with the idea of an online bookstore on a cross-country drive from New York City to Seattle. He didn’t know yet, but he would become a billionaire after he quit his job in 1994, moved to Seattle and targeted the untapped potential of the Internet market by opening an online bookstore.

Bezos started Amazon when he was 30 years old in his garage in Bellevue, Washington with MacKenzie Scott. Since then, he has been running the company for 27 years. The empire started with a quarter of a million dollars investment from Bezos’ parents, and Amazon is now worth $1.7 trillion--second to Apple. Bezos’ net worth is around $190 billion, depending on when and where you look, as he holds a 11.1% stake in the public company.

"Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else,”

In the third quarter of 2021, he will move into a new role as executive chairman of Amazon’s board. Becoming the chairman will free up Bezos from the day-to-day operations of running a company, giving him more time to spend with his family as well. As a chairman, Bezos will become involved with more important decisions like expanding into groceries with Amazon Go and other possible business ventures. “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else,” Bezos wrote. He also added that he will be focusing more of his time on his philanthropy, like Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, as well as the two companies he owns: the Washington Post and Blue Origin.

The Bezos Day One Fund, a $2 billion philanthropic fund launched in 2018 by Jeff Bezos and his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, announced grants totaling $106 million in support of efforts to assist families experiencing homelessness. They hope to make meaningful and lasting impacts in two areas: fund existing non-profits to help families experiencing homelessness, and create a network of preschools in low-income communities.

Jeff Bezos’ Earth Fund will funnel $10 billion into action on climate change. The Bezos Earth Fund is collaborating with The Solutions Project to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy and equitable access to healthy air, water, and land. Despite his efforts against global warming, many still debate whether the actions are actually beneficial to climate justice.

Many CEOs and founders have previously done what Bezos is doing. Take Bill Gates as an example. Gates switched from CEO to chairman in 2000, to dive more deeply into philanthropy, forming the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If Bezos really wanted, he does not have to work anymore--he’s got all the money in the world--but because he is passionate about what he does with his company, he will continue to contribute effort and knowledge.

Bezos first appeared on the Forbes 400 list in 1998 after taking his company public with a net worth of $1.6 billion, making him the 102nd richest person in the United States. The next year, Time named Bezos its “Person of the Year,” proclaiming him king of e-commerce. Nearly two decades later, in 2017, he overtook Bill Gates as the richest person in the world, with a net worth of more than $100 billion. He had maintained his status as the richest person in the world after giving ex-wife MacKenzie a quarter of his shares in the divorce. In August 2020, he became the first person ever to be worth over $200 billion. Because most of Bezos’ net worth is in stocks, the numbers do fluctuate up and down. Bezos may no longer be CEO of Amazon, but he leaves behind a legacy and will continue to make important contributions to the growing company.

*Elon Musk was the current richest person in the world, but on February 23, 2021, Tesla stock dipped, making Musk’s net worth at $183 billion. It’s an on-and-off relationship with the title for both Musk and Bezos.


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