Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, became the world’s newest $100-billion mogul recently. He’s the first to have reached the mark since Bill Gates in 1999.
Currently, Bezos’s 22-year-old e-commerce company, which started humbly in his garage, is valued at nearly $600 billion. But even before he was the richest man in the world, Bezos was an enthusiastic, optimistic visionary with remarkable plans for the future of commerce.
An interview with Bezos from 1999 (above) shows what the company was like when it had just expanded its product-range from books to a few other items. Bezos explains his decision to abandon his career on Wall Street, quoting a “regret minimisation framework”. He says in the interview, “I want to have lived my life in such a way that when I’m 80 years old, I’ve minimised the number of regrets that I have,” adding, “I don’t go in for carpe diem, I go in for regret minimisation framework.”
Bezos also makes his predictions for the future of e-commerce, which turned out to be remarkably true. Though it seems very matter-of-fact and unimpressive now, back in 1999 his views for the future were nothing less than revolutionary. As Bob Simon, the interviewer, put it, “Call it the revenge of the nerds, the computer nerds.”
Even earlier, in 1997, Bezos knew where commerce and the internet were heading. “What’s really incredible about this is it’s day one. This is the very beginning... of electronic commerce. We’re moving forward in so many different areas,” he said, in a 1997 interview (video below).
He was right. As Simon put it in 1999 (little did he know), “These days, the Amazon goes everywhere.”