Chairman and CEO, Amazon.com
Born: Jan. 12, 1964, Albuquerque, N.M.
Education: Bachelor's in electrical engineering and computer science, Princeton University
Jeff Bezos is the Richard Sears, Isidor Straus, John Wanamaker and Sam Walton of e-commerce. He didn't invent online shopping, but he converted it from the novel to the routine, and defined and scaled the online mass market for consumer goods. He transformed the shopping experience in a way that has changed consumer culture—just as his four retail predecessors had done with the physical stores of their eras.
Bezos has made this impact even though Seattle-based amazon.com barely ranks in the top 50 U.S. companies by annual revenue. Wal-Mart's sales in 2013 were seven times as much as Amazon's $74 billion. Bezos also runs on narrow profit margins. His combination of small inventory, centralized and low-cost warehousing, and knowledge of customers' individual preferences throws off cash but, to Wall Street's consternation, Bezos prefers to reinvest it in new business lines and process innovations. Nevertheless, his 18 percent stake in Amazon gives the former Wall Street computer engineer a fortune that Bloomberg values at $29 billion.