It is a famous sound when Jeff Bezos learns something new: He laughs.
Bezos made headlines this week when he bought the Washington Post in a cash deal for $250 million.
His energy is fueled by a certainty that something great is just over the horizon, even in the face of critics. He remembers when so many people said Amazon was destined for disaster. At the beginning, some even referred to the company as Amazon.bomb.
The 49-year-old Amazon CEO believes that failure is just part of the joy of succeeding.
“If you want to invent, if you want to do any innovation, anything new, you’re going to have failures because you need to experiment,” Bezos said at the Utah Tech Council Hall of Fame. “And I think the amount of useful invention that you have is directly proportional to the number of experiments that you can do per week, per month, per year.
“And so if you’re going to increase the number of experiments you’re also going to increase the number of failures. Invention often takes a long time because of the setbacks. It’s more fun, I think, to be a pioneer, to be an explorer.”
The anthem at Amazon is work hard, have fun and make history. It’s what Bezos did when he took on the corner bookstore and sold books online, shipping out of his own garage. Fast forward as he added music, videos, electronics, clothing and the Kindle. Today, Amazon now sells groceries and art. Bezos is selling up to 200 items per second and just one of their warehouses is the size of 28 football fields.
But how did the world know he would be the kid to make history? He is the child of a 17-year-old mother. After his father left when he was a year old, Bezos got a stepfather, Mike Bezos, an immigrant from Cuba who adopted him.
Even as a 3-year-old, he was curious. Bezos dismantled his own crib with a screwdriver.
“I was constantly booby-trapping the house with various kinds of alarms and some of them were not just audible sounds, but actually like physical booby-traps,” he told the Academy of Achievement. “I think I occasionally worried my parents that they were going to open the door one day and have 30 pounds of nails drop on their head or something.”
That curiosity and computer skill carried him to Princeton and then Wall Street. But Bezos gave up all that security for a risk on Amazon.
And he’s still willing to put part of his $25 billion at risk. A lot of people wonder why he bought the Washington Post, but don’t bet against him. He also invested in a 200-foot tall block inside a mountain in Texas that will only chime once a century. It’s a kind of hello to the infinite future, from a guy who loves the infinite possibilities, right now.
“I do think there’s more innovation ahead of us than there is behind us,” Bezos said during a 2003 Ted Talk. ”And in 1917, Sears — I want to get this exactly right. This was the advertisement that they ran in 1917. It says, ‘Use your electricity for more than light.’ And I think that’s where we are. We’re very, very early.”
ABC News’ Tess Scott contributed to this report.