The day Jeff Bezos launched Cadabra in his garage, the future Amazon

The day Jeff Bezos launched Cadabra in his garage, the future Amazon

On July 5, 2021, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos stepped down as CEO of the group he founded. Fifteen days later, the richest man in the world made a trip of a few minutes in space aboard a shuttle of his own company Blue Origin, the dream of a lifetime.

Jeff Bezos has chosen to devote himself to other activities even if he remains executive chairman of Amazon. At 57, he leaves the reins to his lieutenant Andy Jassy, ​​who heads the group’s most profitable division, namely Amazon Web Services. It’s the end of a 27-year era in which it went from being a small online bookstore to selling everything imaginable on this planet, transforming our consumption patterns.

Nearly ten years ago, Bloomberg journalist Brad Stone recounted the rise of Amazon in his bestseller “Amazon: the store to sell everything” (ed. First Interactive). Since then, Jeff Bezos’ company has grown exponentially, inventing never-before-seen products like Alexa and disrupting countless industries, while its workforce has quintupled and its valuation soared to surpass well over a trillion dollars. Jeff Bezos’ empire, once housed in a garage, now spans the globe.

Jeff Bezos’ first offices in Seattle. Amazon

In his new book “Jeff Bezos, the crazy rise of the founder of Amazon” (Talent Éditions, 19.90 euros), which appears this Thursday, August 25, Brad Stone studies the evolution of Jeff Bezos himself – who started like a geek taking advantage of the explosion of the web, to transform himself into a powerful billionaire with global ambitions.

At the start of his book, the journalist recounts how one of the most powerful men on the planet got into the world of the web, following his entrepreneurial instincts (several excerpts are taken from Brad Stone’s book).

Farewell Wall Street

At the age of thirty, Jeffrey Preston Bezos left his highly paid job at D. E. Shaw, a well-known Wall Street hedge fund, to pursue a seemingly small business venture: an online bookstore.

With MacKenzie Scott, his wife of twenty-four years, he leaves New York to go to Fort Worth, Texas where his family held a residence. Jeff Bezos pulls the family Chevrolet pickup out of the garage and asks his wife to drive to the northwest of the United States, more than 5,000 kilometers, while he sits in the passenger seat, typing his financial projections about the future of the internet on his laptop. We are in 1994… the genesis of the web.

Jeff Bezos chose to stop in Seattle because of the city’s reputation as a new tech hub and because Washington State has a relatively small population (compared to California, New York, and the United States). Texas). Which means his future business would only have to pay state sales tax on a small percentage of customers.

“The young thirty-something set up his start-up in the garage of a traditional suburban house in the suburbs of Seattle. He made himself the first two offices of Amazon with wooden doors bought for sixty dollars in a The former financier initially chose to call his company Cadabra Inc., but he gave it up and considered other names like Bookmall.com, Aard.com, and Relentless.com, before finally settling on say that the longest river on Earth could well symbolize the largest bookstore available on the planet: Amazon.com.”

Success after a few months

Jeff Bezos initially financed his startup himself, while benefiting from a generous investment of 245,000 dollars (210,000 euros) from his devoted parents, Jackie and Mike. When the website went live in 1995, Amazon immediately found itself in the midst of an unthinkable frenzy sparked by a new technology called the “World Wide Web”. Each week, orders increased by 30, 40 and 50%. The frenzy was such that the first employees say they no longer remember the beginnings of the company.

Early potential investors backtracked, distrustful of the internet and this hyperconfident, laughingly eccentric young geek from the East Coast. But in 1996, Silicon Valley venture capitalists got on board with the startup. It was this abundance of funds that opened the budding CEO’s eyes, sparking an unwavering fervor and giving birth to dreams of dominance.

‘Getting Unstoppable Quickly’

The company’s first motto was “Become unstoppable fast”. Amazon’s sudden expansion in the late 1990s, a period known as the dotcom bubble, was epic. Bezos hired new executives, opened new warehouses, staged a well-publicized IPO in 1997, and survived legal action by his first rival, bookseller Barnes & Noble. He already viewed Amazon as a malleable brand, so he dove headlong into new product categories to sell CDs, DVDs, toys and electronics. “We’re going to be unstoppable,” he told Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, his Seattle-based alter ego.

Twenty-five years later, when Amazon bought the Hollywood studios of MGM for more than 7 billion euros and the group is now a new player in the sports business with the broadcasting of competitions such as Roland Garros and the French football championship, we wonder again and again: where will Amazon stop?

This article originally appeared on Business Insider France