Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is widely considered to be a tech visionary par excellence. The 49-year-old New Mexico native got his start selling books on the Internet in the 1990’s. Two decades later, he presides over an e-commerce empire that has redefined the consumer experience for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Many people now buy the bulk of their groceries and household items on Amazon — not to mention those last minute Christmas and birthday gifts. In 1999, TIME named Bezos Person of the Year.
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In recent years, Bezos, who is worth more than $20 billion, has pushed Amazon to keep up with Apple in digital content: e-books, streaming video, digital music, and apps. Amazon’s Kindle tablet is the most formidable iPad alternative to date. Meanwhile, the company is spending tens of millions to build giant processing centers around the country and throughout the world. Such high capital expenditures have occasionally irked Wall Street investors. Still, the company’s stock price has increased nearly 30% over the last two years.