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How did Jeff Bezos make his money?

By:  Alice Guy (FCA) | 19th July 2021

Jeff Bezos is currently the richest person on the planet. He is the founder of and currently has an estimated wealth of $213 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

So how did Jeff Bezos start Amazon and make it so successful? And how did he make his money? 

Did Jeff Bezos come from money?

Jeff Bezos came from humble beginnings. He was born to 17-year-old Jacklyn in 1965 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Jacklyn was still at school and took Bezos along to evening classes as a baby. His Dad, Ted, was 19 and ran a bike shop in the city.

His parents divorced a year later and Jackie married Miguel ‘Mike’ Bezos in 1968. Mike adopted Jeff and changed his name to Bezos.

Jeff’s parents weren’t rich but his grandfather did own a ranch in Texas. Jeff visited most summers and learnt to work hard on the farm.

Was he clever at school?

Bezos always loved science. He once set up an electric alarm to keep his siblings out of his room. He learnt computer programming very young when his school had a huge mainframe computer that no one knew how to use. Bezos and some friends stayed behind after school to teach themselves computer programming.

Jeff was a high flier and won several awards at school for academic excellence. His leaving speech at school was published in the local paper. He told listeners that he dreamed of the day when we would colonise space.

How did Jeff Bezos start making money?

Well, it all started with a simple idea.

Bezos studied engineering at university and worked from 1986 to 1994 for several companies including IBM, Andersen Consulting and Bankers Trust, learning about technology as well as banking and investment.

In 1993 he had his lightbulb moment, deciding to start an online website selling books from his garage. His parents worried as he quit his job to focus on his fledgling business. He persuaded friends and family to invest and he warned them that his business was 70% likely to fail. At the time, few people believed that selling books online would overtake physical book shops.

How did Amazon become so successful?

Even Bezos was surprised by how quickly sales took off. In the beginning, he only had 10 employees, mostly software engineers, and they had to spend most of their time packing books. 

Bezos was quick to seize new opportunities to develop the business. They soon moved out of the garage, and in 1998, he decided to expand beyond selling books into other consumer goods. He bought several other small businesses to help Amazon grow quickly. 

Since then, the company has expanded into services and subscriptions as well as many other areas. Sales hit an amazing $386 Billion in 2020.

On 5 July 2021, Bezos stepped down from running Amazon, but the company is still going on from strength to strength.

What is Jeff Bezos’ main source of income?

Most of Jeff Bezos’ wealth comes from his Amazon shares. He still owns 11% of Amazon shares and has sold an estimated $27 Billion worth of shares since 1997 according to Forbes.

He is known for his generous philanthropy, regularly giving to causes such as cancer research and climate change.

Any tips for success?

So, does Jeff Bezos have any useful tips for success? People close to him say that he always thinks of customers first, even if it means lower short-term profits. And he must be doing something right because his customers just love Amazon.

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