My mother had me when she was 17, says Jeff Bezos in prepared testimony

The Amazon CEO said the initial start-up capital for Amazon.com came primarily from my parents, who invested a large fraction of their life savings in something they didn't understand.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, will speak about his personal life and the difficulties his company faced in its initial years when he testifies before the US Congress on Wednesday.

"I'm Jeff Bezos. I founded 'Amazon' 26 years ago with the long-term mission of making it Earth's most customer-centric company. My mom, Jackie, had me when she was a 17-year-old high school student in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Being pregnant in high school was not popular in Albuquerque in 1964. It was difficult for her," he said in a prepared testimony for the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law .

The world's richest man said that when the school tried to kick out his mother, his grandfather went to bat for her.

"After some negotiation, the principal said, "OK, she can stay and finish high school, but she can't do any extracurricular activities, and she can't have a locker." My grandfather took the deal, and my mother finished high school, though she wasn't allowed to walk across the stage with her classmates to get her diploma," he said.

He further revealed that determined to keep up with her education, she enrolled in night school, picking classes led by professors who would let her bring an infant to class.

'My dad's name is Miguel'

"She would show up with two duffel bags--one full of textbooks, and one packed with diapers, bottles, and anything that would keep me interested and quiet for a few minutes. My dad's name is Miguel. He adopted me when I was four years old," said the Amazon CEO.

"He was 16 when he came to the United States from Cuba as part of Operation Pedro Pan, shortly after Castro took over. My dad arrived in America alone. His parents felt he'd be safer here. His mom imagined America would be cold, so she made him a jacket sewn entirely out of cleaning cloths, the only material they had on hand," added Bezos. "We still have that jacket; it hangs in my parents' dining room."

He mentioned that his dad spent two weeks at Camp Matecumbe, a refugee centre in Florida, before being moved to a Catholic mission in Wilmington, Delaware.

 

"He was lucky to get to the mission, but even so, he didn't speak English and didn't have an easy path. What he did have was a lot of grit and determination. He received a scholarship to college in Albuquerque, which is where he met my mom. You get different gifts in life, and one of my great gifts is my mom and dad. They have been incredible role models for me and my siblings our entire lives," said Bezos.

He stated that the concept for Amazon came to him in 1994. "The idea of building an online bookstore with millions of titles--something that simply couldn't exist in the physical world--was exciting to me. At the time, I was working at an investment firm in New York City."

The Amazon CEO said the initial start-up capital for Amazon.com came primarily from my parents, who invested a large fraction of their life savings in something they didn't understand.

"They weren't making a bet on Amazon or the concept of a bookstore on the internet. They were making a bet on their son. I told them that I thought there was a 70 per cent chance they would lose their investment, and they did it anyway," he said.

 

"It took more than 50 meetings for me to raise $1 million from investors, and over the course of all those meetings, the most common question was, "What's the internet?"," added Bezos.

The Amazon founder also narrated the hardships the company faced during its initial years.

He said: "Amazon's success was anything but preordained. Investing in Amazon early on was a very risky proposition. From our founding through the end of 2001, our business had cumulative losses of nearly USD 3 billion, and we did not have a profitable quarter until the fourth quarter of that year.



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