entrepreneur, founder of Amazon.com
Birthplace: New Mexico
Who says you can't sell stuff over the Internet? Jeff Bezos believes you can, and created one of the best-known e-commerce sites on the Internet, Amazon.com, devoted to selling books to members of its carefully cultivated community. Amazon.com was the first major bookseller online to offer visitors a way to search among more than a million books, by author, title or subject, and to further investigate a title through peer reviews, a sample chapter, and occasionally, author interviews—all posted on the site. Bezos has built a convincing model for doing business on the Internet: he understands both the technology that underlies his site and the motivations of those who use the Internet and those who finance it. He has created brand loyalty through building a customer community (proven in Amazon's impressive repeat business ratio), and has a market value that places it third behind giant chains Barnes & Noble and Borders (through the site itself has not turned a profit in its first four years of existence). It's no wonder he has drawn comparisons to Bill Gates, another technology industry pioneer.