Jeff Bezos Wanted To Be A Theoretical Physicist But This Was The Moment When The Amazon Founder Decided To Pivot: 'I Realized I Was Never Going To...'


Jeff Bezos founded, Inc. in 1994 and today it is the fifth-largest company globally with a market capitalization of $1.895 trillion. However, did you know Bezos did not always plan to become an entrepreneur? In fact, he was studying to become a theoretical physicist.

What Happened: In 2018, during a conversation with the Economic Club president David M. Rubenstein, Bezos spoke about his time at Princeton University. He said, “Because I wanted to be a theoretical physicist and so I went to Princeton and I was a really good student.”

In his junior year, he was taking multiple classes like quantum mechanics, computer science, and electrical engineering, and enjoying most of it. However, a partial differential equation floored him.

See Also: Jeff Bezos Reveals How Customer Feedback Led To Amazon’s ‘Sell Everything’ Strategy: ‘I Wish You Sold Windshield Wiper Blades…’

Bezos said that he was studying with his roommate, but despite investing hours, they couldn't crack the equation. So, they turned to a fellow student, who was the "smartest guy at Princeton." 

“We show him this problem and he looks at it he stares at it for a while and he says ‘Cosine.' And I’m like what do you mean? He’s like that’s the answer,” Bezos said.

The fellow student, who was Sri Lankan, then went on to solve the problem by writing down three pages of detailed algebraic equations, and the answer was Cosine.

Bezos then asked him, “Did you just do that in your head,” to which he replied that this was a similar problem he solved three years ago, and was able to “map” it the same way. 

“That was an important moment for me. Because that was the very moment when I realized I was never going to be a great theoretical physicist,” Bezos concluded.

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Why It Matters: Bezos’ decision to pivot from theoretical physics to entrepreneurship has had a profound impact. His creation, Amazon, has grown into a global e-commerce giant. 

In Apri, Amazon reported its first-quarter earnings with net sales of $143.3 billion, a 13% increase compared to last year. This figure also surpassed the Street’s consensus estimate of $142.5 billion.

Meanwhile, Bezos, who stepped down as Amazon CEO in 2021, currently ranks second on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, with a total net worth of $205 billion.

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Read Next: Happy 60th Birthday Jeff Bezos! The Billionaire Survived The Dot-Com Bubble Burst — What If You Rode That Rollercoaster With A $1000 Amazon Bet?

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