Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, with hundreds of thousands of Amazon sellers helping the company generate over $100 billion in annual revenues and a workforce of over half a million people. This massive marketplace had its humble beginnings in Jeff Bezos’ garage when the entrepreneur was 30 years old.
Bezos was working on Wall Street in the mid-1990s as the Internet was developing. He saw the potential of the online world and decided to quit his job to start his own Internet company. Bezos’ confidence in the future of the Internet wasn’t just a whim. The Internet was growing at over 2000% per year at the time. To get his online business going, he made a list of 20 products that he could sell online. He settled on books because of their consistent demand and affordability. That was the beginning of Bezos’ empire.
The initial start-up capital for the online bookstore came from Bezos’ parents, who entrusted their savings to their son’s ambitious dreams. Within two months, Amazon was selling tens of thousands of dollars in product per week. Rather than keeping the revenue, Bezos parlayed it into growing the company. In 1995, Amazon procured $8 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins. The company went public in 1997 at $18 per share. Amazon continued to grow, acquiring many additional companies such as the Washington Post, Zappos, Audible.com, Fabric.com, and GoodReads.
In 1999, Time Magazine named Jeff Bezos “Person of the Year” for revolutionizing the shopping industry. From mere books, Amazon branched out to selling everything from wedding dresses to cars to food. Today, you can buy practically anything that you need on the online marketplace. And to think that it all started in a garage.