After the news of Jeff Bezos handing over the reins as Amazon CEO, all eyes are on his next move.
Will the billionaire and wealthiest man in the world take lead from his ex-wife MacKen zie Scott, who went on a philanthropic frenzy after their divorce in 2019?
He reached out to his Twitter fans just a few years ago to ask them what he should do with his wealth. The billionaire tech entrepreneur responded by launching the Bezos Day One Fund in 2018 with MacKenzie not long before their divorce.
RELATED: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos quits
Bezos gave away US$2 billion of his personal fortune to fund his non-profit.
This year, Bezos announced he was launching the Bezos Earth Fund to help fight climate change and committed US$10 billion to the initiative.
Meanwhile his ex-wife MacKenzie, who he was married to for 25 years, ended up with a US$60 billion ($A79 billion) fortune after the divorce, making her one of the richest women on the planet. The divorce came after it was revealed Bezos was having an affair with TV host Lauren Sanchez.
MacKenzie has since given away billions of dollars to charitable organisations after committing to a massive donation drive when she signed the Giving Pledge in May 2019. She has given away more than US$4 billion in the past few months alone.
WATCH THIS SPACE
Bezos’ announcement that he would step down as CEO of Amazon was somewhat unexpected.
He will hand over the reins to Andy Jassy, who currently runs Amazon’s cloud computing wing. Jassy has been with the company since 1997 after starting out in the marketing department.
Bezos – who continues to stand as the world’s richest man with a personal net worth of around US$196.5 billion according to the Forbes real time billionaires list – will transition to a role as Amazon’s executive chairman of the board this year. The company did not provide an exact date for the changeover except that it would happen in the company’s third quarter.
But Amazon certainly hasn’t been Bezos’ only venture.
Aside from his work with Amazon, Bezos is the founder of Blue Origin, a private space exploration company.
Two decades ago, in 2000, Bezos founded the aerospace company and said: “We are going to build a road to space. And then amazing things will happen.” Watch this space.
HOW IT STARTED
Born in 1964 in New Mexico, his parents moved to Houston, Texas and then to Miami when he was a teenager. His love for computers and technology started from a young age which led Bezos to study computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton University.
When he graduated he worked on Wall Street. In 1990 he became the youngest senior vice president at the investment firm D.E. Shaw which is where he met his ex-wife MacKenzie.
The couple dated for three months before quickly getting engaged and married in 1993 which turned into a 25-year marriage. They have four children together – three sons and a daughter adopted from China.
Four years into working at the investment company, Bezos quit his lucrative corporate job and relocated to Seattle where he launched Amazon.com from his garage alongside MacKenzie.
AMAZON WAS BORN
Amazon, which was named after the famous South American river, officially launched in 1995 after the idea came to him in 1994.
Bezos was intrigued about the internet’s explosive growth in the mid-1990s. He began exploring ways to build an online business to capitalise on the growing trend.
“It was a wake-up call,” Bezos told Time magazine in 1999. “I started thinking, OK, what kind of business opportunity might there be here?”
Amazon, which was launched from his garage was initially an online bookstore before it expanded into other segments and became an e-commerce success story.
Within just a month, Amazon.com sold books across the US and in 45 foreign countries. In two months, sales unexpectedly reached around US$20,000 a week.
The start-up was outpacing competitors within a couple of years and Amazon went public in 1997, turning over its first full-year profit in 2003.
Sales jumped from US$510,000 in 1995 to over US$17 billion in 2011.
Bezos and his team branched out further than books, diversifying Amazon’s offerings by selling CDs and VHS videos – remember them? – by 1998, and later clothes, other electronics and toys.
The e-commerce company expanded further with the launch of the Prime Video streaming platform in 2006 and the Amazon Prime subscription service in 2007.
Also in 2007, Amazon released the widely successful Kindle and then the Kindle Fire in 2011 to rival the iPad. Now there’s Audible, too.
Many people may also be working from home using Amazon WorkSpaces, another Amazon creation.
Bezos also owns The Washington Post and affiliate publications which he purchased in 2013 for US$250 million.
He experimented with drone delivery with Amazon Prime Air, with the first delivery taking place in 2016 in England.
Meanwhile in 2016, Bezos lived out a childhood dream and appeared in Star Trek Beyond in a cameo role as an alien.
Under Bezos’ watch, Amazon acquired grocery store chain Whole Foods in 2017, which expanded online deals to Amazon Prime customers.
Once upon a time he was a Wall Street investor-turned-entrepreneur who ran a small site out of a garage with his wife.
Now Amazon is one of the world’s most valuable companies, with a market capitalisation of around US$1.7 trillion, give or take.
Let’s see what the billionaire does next.