As I scrolled through my personal Twitter feed this past weekend, I scrolled upon a post of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. The post included the above picture of Bezos sitting at a desk with one computer in a makeshift office on which the walls hung an airbrushed “Amazon.com” banner. The text attached to the picture read, “Jeff Bezos 1999. Next time you want to give up, think of this.” This is where I would insert a blank stare and eye roll; something felt off and it was … those two powerful sentences were misleading.
What this post, and many others on social media, neglected to do was tell the whole truth. This post did not tell you exactly what afforded Bezos the opportunity to begin Amazon.com which we come to find out would be access to money and education. Let’s start from the beginning and quickly identify key factors that afforded Bezos the opportunity to create his digital retail empire.
Prior to the birth of Jeff Bezos, his family was amongst the largest landowners in Texas. Bezos comes from a family of educated professionals—his father was employed by Exxon as an engineer and his grandfather was a regional director of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. As a teenager Bezos would attended Miami Palmetto High School. As a high school student Bezos had the opportunity to attend a Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida. Miami Palmetto is one of two public high schools in Miami-Dade County with a white, non-Hispanic majority. Eventually, Bezos would go on to graduate and receive an ivy-league education from Princeton with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science. Due to the financial status of Bezos’s family, he lived very well. He was able to attend the best schools in his Miami and while there, was exposed to college curriculum. It is no doubt that Bezos’s educational background was a driving force in his success in founding Amazon.com.
After Jeff Bezos graduated from Princeton he then went on to work, for a number of years, on Wall Street as a computer science professional. What the post forgot to tell you is that in 1994, Jeff Bezos left his well paying job and founded Amazon.com with the help of his parents who invested $300,000 from their retirement savings. At 30 years old, Bezos could commit 24 hours seven days a week to developing Amazon.com. Because of his personal wealth, along with the wealth of his parents, Bezos was fulfilling his dream.
I did not write this blog to discredit Jeff Bezos, but rather highlight what the perfect combination of education and financial resources can yield. I have no doubt that Bezos worked and will continue to work countless hours to ensure the success of Amazon.com, that is evident in its continued successful expansion. It should be noted, that when telling the whole truth, Jeff Bezos’s financial stability and access to quality education from adolescence to adulthood, added to Bezos’s likelihood of success.