Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and founder of Amazon, has worked his way from going out on a limb and starting the online commerce giant to now putting his hand in commercial space travel, among other groundbreaking endeavors.
None of this would have happened, though, if he didn’t have the foresight to see where the world was going and know how to adjust accordingly, especially as it pertained to his business model and future plans for Amazon.
Back in 1999, Bezos made a series of predictions, some of which, people thought were not only crazy, but simply impossible. However, the Amazon founder is the one laughing now. Here are some of his predictions from over two decades ago.
Picture perfect flight @BlueOrigin. And this vehicle has now flown to space & back six times making this a new milestone. We carried 23 payloads today including thousands of postcards from kids all over the world for @ClubforFuture. Keep them coming kids & we’ll keep flying them! pic.twitter.com/ZrjaknJh1t
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) December 12, 2019
Perhaps one of the biggest predictions Bezos had was that people would began to ditch brick and mortar retails locations for the more convenient online shopping opportunities. While the internet was only in its infancy at the time, Bezos was convinced enough to begin his company, Amazon.
“We want to try and build a place where people can come to find and discover anything that they might want to buy online,” Bezos said on Charlie Rose’s talk show in 1999. In 2018, NPR and Marist reported on a study that shared people were more likely to start online shopping on Amazon, before even going to search engines like Google.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) January 20, 2020
While countless brick and mortar stores have closed their doors or reallocated their business to an online format, Bezos predicted in 1999 that physical storefronts will be able to survive the online boom only if they can fulfill one of two criteria, including providing entertainment value or immediate convenience.
Years later, the Amazon founder spoke with The Wire and echoed those same sentiments he had spoken so many years before. “That experience is what you get when you go to movie theaters, and why you don’t always rent movies, right,” he said during the interview. With so many stores closing, it seems that those who fulfill those criteria are the only ones remaining in business.
— Jay Carney (@JayCarney) September 20, 2019
Amazon’s Echo device wasn’t the first to show capabilities of connecting to other devices, but it certainly spearheaded the revolution of having a ‘smart house’. In 1999, Bezos predicted that appliances and other small devices would all be connected to some sort of network through the internet, although, he couldn’t exactly say what that would be. Still, he would be right.
“I’m a big believer in this notion of sort of appliances, that there’ll be lots of little things that are connected to the internet … There’ll be a whole bunch of things sort of connected to the network,” Bezos said during an interview in 1999.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) January 29, 2020
Barnes & Noble has been around for a long time as the premiere book store to purchase your favorite story and grab a Starbucks coffee while you’re at it. But in 1999, while speaking to The Wire, Bezos shared that while Amazon and Barne & Noble were currently competitors, it would not last for long.
“I bet you a year from now they will not consider us direct competitors,” the billionaire said during the interview. “Clearly they do today, but we’re on different paths … We’re trying to invent the future of e-commerce, and they’re just defending their turf.”
Jeff Bezos. More like Nostradamus.
24 years ago, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos held staff meetings at Barnes & Noble.
Today, his net worth is 170 times the value of Barnes & Noble’s business. pic.twitter.com/HbwpiYZuAu
— Jon Erlichman (@JonErlichman) September 29, 2019