Jeff Bezos Laughed Off Criticism From Jay Leno In 1999 About Amazon Losing Billions And Never Making A Profit — ‘We Are A Famously Unprofitable Company’

When Jeff Bezos started Inc. in his garage in 1994, the concept of an online bookstore seemed far-fetched to many. Critics abounded, and numerous potential investors turned down the opportunity for a share of ownership, skeptical of its viability. Despite the doubts, Bezos remained steadfast in his vision for Amazon.

A video clip from a 1999 interview with television host Jay Leno recently resurfaced on X, highlighting the skepticism Bezos faced. In the interview, Bezos, then CEO of Amazon, addressed concerns about the company’s financial strategy.

Leno questioned the logic behind Amazon’s valuation, saying, “The company is worth billions, and every time I pick up the paper each year, it loses more money than the year before. The company’s never made a profit. How does that work?”

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Bezos agreed, saying, “It seems like new math, doesn’t it?” This early exchange reflected the skepticism surrounding Amazon’s approach to business.

Leno, with his characteristic wit, said, “To someone who doesn’t know anything about this stuff, it doesn’t make much sense.” Mimicking the public’s doubts, he joked, “We lost $12 million last year, and we’re doing great!”

Bezos, unfazed burst into laughter before he clarified, “This is not a new phenomenon. We are a famously unprofitable company, and we are investing in the future, which isn’t unusual.”

Amazon’s approach to continuously reinvesting its profits into expansion, innovation and diversification has been a cornerstone of its strategy. This reinvestment strategy allowed Amazon to scale its operations significantly and expand into various sectors beyond e-commerce, such as cloud computing with Amazon Web Services, digital streaming and artificial intelligence.

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It wasn’t until the fourth quarter of 2001 that Amazon first turned a profit, earning $0.01 per share on revenue of more than $1 billion. This milestone was followed by a more significant achievement in 2003 when Amazon reported its first full year of profitability, earning $35 million for the year, up from a $149 million loss the previous year​​. This marked a turning point for Amazon, validating its long-term growth strategy and its focus on reinvesting in the business.

Despite initial doubts, Amazon’s strategy of reinvesting profits into expansion and innovation has paid off. The company, once criticized for its lack of profitability, has evolved into a $1.77 trillion entity as of February. This growth signifies a dramatic transformation in market strategy and impact, establishing Amazon as a leader in e-commerce, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Bezos’s wealth has grown substantially, placing him as one of the richest men in the world. As of February, his net worth is estimated at $193.8 billion, according to Forbes, illustrating the monumental success of his business ventures.

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