Whilst the Financial Times is busy publishing articles explaining how worse the British economy is getting, there’s a guy across the pond who made $2 billion last week. Is it true? Is it legitimate? The answer to these questions is yes. That guy is Jeffrey Bezos. He founded in 1994 a startup known as Amazon. Yes, that’s the Amazon you’re thinking of.
So how did he make that amount of money? Well according to the SEC, he still owns a little more than 94 million of Amazon’s shares. He started the company back in 1994 after having worked a number of years for Wall Street companies as a computer scientist. In 1997, Amazon floated on the NASDAQ. The share price went up, and up, and up, and sky-rocketed until the internet bubble burst. Then, it was all down, down, and down. The company did survive; it actually expanded over the years, and saw its vision of becoming a worldwide leading internet retailer become reality.
The price of the share ended up recovering most of its lost .com bubble value. Last week, the share price was hovering around $93. Amazon then released its third quarter report, which bet all expectations. The share surged to $113, then $118, and now $124. That’s an all time top for the company. Jeff’s share of the pie is now worth close to $11.5bn.
What can we get out of this story? Jeff is a true techy. After getting his computer science and electrical engineering degree from Princeton, he worked in Wall Street for a few years. He became an entrepreneur, specialising in book retail right when the electronics age was exploding. At the time, many were predicting that market segment was dying. He believed in it, and made it happen. It shows that you don’t need the next uber-cool technology, patents here and there, nor magical access to large amounts of capital to build a business. A simple idea can work with time if things are done properly.