Did you know Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is officially the richest man in the world? But what does he do with over 100 billion dollars, and exactly how big is Amazon? The answers to that and 14 true facts about Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com can be found within this article and the video above.
Officially The Richest Man on Earth
From a Wall Street IT guy, to a humble internet book merchant, to officially the richest man on the planet in 2018, that’s basically Jeff Bezos in a nutshell.
On the Forbes billionaires list, Jeff Bezos is leading the pack on the real time ranking with an estimated net worth of a whopping $123.1 Billion dollars as of the making of this video. That’s over $30 Billion ahead of Bill Gates who is second place on the list. On top of that Bezos is also 8 years younger than Gates. But to be fair, Gates has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth and has already donated billions to charity. That being said, Bezos does also spend his money on projects that aren’t immediately financially profitable, as we will discover in this video.
Unofficially however, there may be other people much richer than Bezos. Such as for example Vladimir Putin who is rumored to be worth over $200 billion.
Blue Origin LLC
Jeff Bezos has a space company. Bezos has been a long-time science fiction fan. He actually appeared in the film Star Trek Beyond briefly as an alien. But Bezos took his affinity for science fiction into reality almost 18 years ago in 2000, when he founded Blue Origin.
Blue Origin is an aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight company based in Kent, Washington. It was founded even before Elon Musks SpaceX, which began its operations in 2002.
Blue Origin launched its first uncrewed test flight of the New Shepard spacecraft in April 2015. And on November 23 rd of the same year, there was a second test flight. In this one, the rocket booster made a successful vertical landing.
Every year, Bezos sells around $700 million of his Amazon stock to fund Blue Origin. He has the same goal as Elon Musk of making humans a multi-planetary species. You just gotta love it when nerds get a lot of money!
The company is planning crewed test flights for 2018, and commercial operations soon after that. Blue Origin is definitely one company to keep an eye on as this new space race heats up.
The 10,000 Year Clock
Bezos likes to focus on the long-term view. He and the Long Now Foundation are building a giant clock in the Texas desert that they hope will last over 10,000 years. Thus potentially outliving the Pyramids and even Amazon.com.
The clock will be constructed 500 feet into a mountain. It’s designed to withstand everything from weather erosion to earthquakes to alien invasions (citation needed), and of course the passing of time.
Bezos invested around $42 million dollars into the manufacturing of the first full scale prototype of the clock. That’s one really expensive clock and not even the final version! However some of the money did go to purchasing the land and constructing the site where the clock will be placed.
The Internet Book Merchant
Jeff Bezos started his online career as a humble internet book merchant. He was based out of the garage of his home in Bellevue, Washington. Yes, some of you younger people might not remember, but Amazon was originally mainly an online bookstore. Bezos even packaged and sent a lot of the books by himself.
There are a few reasons why he decided on selling books instead of other products. The price point for books was low and there was a huge number of titles available in print. So he could basically just spam a crapload of products on his website and it worked.
The first book that Amazon sold was Douglas Hofstadter’s Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, and you can still buy it from Amazon. But apparently nobody has done it in years, because there’s no reviews.
The Dotcom Bubble Survivor
Amazon was founded way back in ancient times in 1994 AD, during the infamous Dotcom Bubble era. Between 2000-2002 the bubble burst and hundreds of internet and tech companies went bankrupt or suffered severe declines in their stock price.
However despite losing a lot of money, Amazon was one of the fortunate companies to survive. They actually made their first profit in 2001.
Why The Name ‘Amazon’?
Jeff Bezos chose the name Amazon by stumbling upon it while browsing the dictionary. The Amazon jungle is an exotic and unique place, where everything tries to kill you. Which is what his vision for the website was … minus the killing part of course. Then there’s also the Amazon river, which is the largest river in the world. Bezos wanted to make Amazon.com the largest bookstore in the world. Mission accomplished, I guess.
There was also another advantage to the name Amazon at the time. Back in the 90s the internet mainly functioned through directory websites. These sites had large lists of links to websites in different categories. The links were almost always listed alphabetically, so Amazon starting with the letter A would always be on top of the lists.
The original name of Amazon was Cadabra. But Bezos scrapped that idea after his lawyer misheard it as cadaver, which is of course a dead body.
Amazon Is Big In North America
Amazon is pretty frickin huge in the United States and Canada. According to a Forbes article, 4 out of every 10 dollars that’s spent online, goes through Amazon. 80% of growth in online sales is from Amazon and Amazon Prime has over 80 million subscribers, which accounts for 64% of US households.
Amazon Prime Video is however lagging quite far behind Netflix and is on par with bittorrent. If you look at internet usage for North America, Netflix accounts for more than 37% and YouTube is around 13%. Amazon Prime Video is only 3%, so they still have some catching up to do.
Amazon Has Many Subsidiaries
In the last 5-10 years Amazon has been on its own little shopping spree.
For example in 2008 Amazon bought the audiobook website Audible.com. Then in November 2009 they bought the online shoe and clothing company Zappos. Later in 2013 they purchased the social cataloging website Goodreads, followed by the digital comics platform ComiXology in April 2014 and the live streaming platform Twitch in September 2014. And many more mergers and acquisitions in between.
The most recent major merger of Amazon was with Whole Foods Market in August 2017.
Amazon Rules The Cloud
When you think of what company is leading the cloud computing industry, you’d maybe think that it’s Google or Microsoft, but then you’d be wrong. Amazon Web Services, or AWS as it’s known, is the largest cloud computing platform in the world. It has been a leader in this industry since 2006.
Amazon originally built its cloud computing infrastructure to help keep track of all their orders, but it has since then evolved. Now AWS has over 33 percent market share in cloud computing. Today it even accounts for over 51% of Amazon’s profits. So basically a glorified bookstore is hosting well over a quarter of the internet. Google needs to up its game!
Amazon Is The CIA’s Webhost (Kind Of)
Speaking of cloud computing, apparently the CIA and the American intelligence community have been outsourcing their cloud computing infrastructure to Amazon in recent years.
Back in 2014 Amazon signed a deal with the US government for a $600 million dollar computing cloud that would allow the US intelligence community to share information more efficiently. Last year this project was apparently completed and this new cloud region now hosts secret classified data for the CIA and other agencies.
Amazon Web Services also maintains a cloud computing region for US government top secret data.
Bezos is on a Pentagon Board
In 2016 Jeff Bezos joined the Defense Innovation Advisory Board at the Pentagon. It is lead by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Some other people who are in this Silicon Valley dream team include celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman and Instagram COO Marne Levine. In total there is 15 people on this board.
What exactly this advisory board does is of course classified. But it’s reportedly set up to help the US military emulate and adapt some of the civilian technologies from Silicon Valley. But personally I think it’s aliens.
The Other Amazon Rainforest
There’s another Amazon rainforest and it’s located in Seattle, Washington. Amazon recently finished the construction of a new building to its campus, called the Spheres. It basically consists of three giant glass domes. Inside them you can find rivers, waterfalls and towering green walls with around 40,000 plants from more than 400 different species.
It took about 620 tons of steel and 12 million pounds of concrete to build the Spheres.
The building is mainly meant for Amazon employees but there is sort of a visitor center at the base of the garden called the Understory, which is open to peasants like you and me.
Amazon Is High-Tech
Amazon is all about improving efficiency. They have delivery drones, and robots that work in their warehouses moving things around. But they still do need human workers as well.
One interesting thing that’s been in the news lately is a wristband patent by Amazon. The wristband is basically meant to track the location and hand movements of workers in real time. It also has a feature to guide workers to the correct products when they get an order to pack. The wristband will basically buzz if they try to reach for the wrong product. There’s basically no slacking in an Amazon warehouse.
Some may call this dystopian, but I don’t really see how it significantly changes anything. I mean everyone does already voluntarily carry around location trackers that can record their movements and voice, they’re called smartphones.
Google vs. Amazon Feud
There’s a bit of a feud going on between Google and Amazon. In December 2017, Google blocked YouTube from the new Echo Show device due to Amazon not carrying Google products like Chromecast, not making Amazon Prime Video available for Google Cast users and other such issues.