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Princeton University

Jeff Bezos: What matters more than your talents

May 15, 2010

In this Princeton University graduation address, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos makes the case that our character is reflected not in the gifts we're endowed with at birth, but by the choices we make over the course of a lifetime.

Jeff Bezos - Online commerce pioneer
As founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos defined online shopping and rewrote the rules of commerce, ushering in a new era in business. Time magazine named him Man of the Year in 1999. Full bio

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Jeff Bezos - Online commerce pioneer
As founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos defined online shopping and rewrote the rules of commerce, ushering in a new era in business. Time magazine named him Man of the Year in 1999.

Why you should listen

Jeff Bezos didn't invent online shopping, but he almost single-handedly turned it into a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. His Amazon.com began as a bookstore in 1994, and quickly expanded into dozens of product categories, forcing the world's biggest retailers to rethink their business models, and ultimately changing the way people shop.

But Amazon.com isn't just an internet success story. It's the standard by which all web businesses are now judged -- if not by their shareholders, then by their customers. Amazon set a high bar for reliability and customer service, and also introduced a wide range of online retail conventions -- from user reviews and one-click shopping to the tab interface and shopping cart icon -- so commonplace we no longer think of them as once having been innovations.

When the Internet bubble burst, Amazon.com took a hit with the other e-commerce pioneers, but the fundamentally sound company hung tough. It now sells more than $10 billion a year of goods, profitably, and its technology will influence the changes to business and media that will come next. Amazon recently released Kindle, a wireless digital reading device, giving the term "page turning" a completely new definition. Bezos, meanwhile, is one of the few early Web CEOs who still run the companies they founded. Outside of his work with Amazon, he recently founded Blue Origin, a space-flight startup.

The original video is available on TED.com
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