Power Players

Jeff Bezos thought there was a '30% chance' Amazon would succeed: I told my parents 'it's very likely they'll lose their entire investment'

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 1997.
Paul Souders | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

Thanks to Amazon's success, CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, worth $207 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

But when he started Amazon as an online bookseller in 1994, Bezos thought it was likely that his business would fail.

"I thought there was a 30% chance that we might build a successful company," Bezos told John Stofflet in an interview for KING-TVs "Evening Magazine" in 2000. "I never thought we'd build what Amazon has turned into, and I'm the most surprised on the planet."

In fact, Bezos told his parents — who gave their son $245,573 to help build the business in 1995 — that it was "very likely they'll lose their entire investment in the company," he told "Evening Magazine."

Starting Amazon was a gamble for Bezos: He left a stable job at a hedge fund in New York City and moved to Seattle to start Amazon out of his garage at a time when most people did not even know what the internet was.

And even though Bezos' parents provided financial support, they were also worried about his decision. "Don't quit your job," his mother Jacklyn Bezos warned, according to his father Mike Bezos. "Can you do this on the weekends and nights?" she asked.

Obviously it all worked out for Bezos. Amazon went public in 1997, and today, the company has a market cap of about $1.7 trillion.

"What's actually happened over the last 25 years [at Amazon] is way beyond my expectations," Bezos said during a fireside chat in India in January. "I was hoping to build a company, but not a company like what you see today."

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