The biological father of one of the world’s internet billionaires was oblivious to the fact that his son has amassed a massive fortune until recently.
That is according to an excerpt from the new book “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” which chronicles the rise of the Amazon empire as led by its infamously clever CEO.
Brad Stone, the author of the book and writing for BusinessWeek, tells of how he found and told a man named Ted Jorgensen that the child he fathered when he was a teenager would eventually grow up to be responsible for building a company that has arguably shaped shopping as we know today.
“‘Your son is one of the most successful men on the planet,’ I told him,” Stone wrote in the BusinessWeek article. “I showed him some Internet photographs on my smartphone, and for the first time in 45 years, Jorgensen saw his biological son. His eyes filled with sorrow and disbelief.”
Jorgensen, according to Stone, agreed to stay out of Bezos’ mother and his life as the couple separated quickly after getting married. Before he regained control of his life, Jorgensen is said to have had a fondness for drinking too much and was an “inattentive dad and husband”.
The man, who now runs his own bicycle shop called Roadrunner Bike Center in Glendale, AZ, last saw “Jeffrey” decades ago when he was still a kid. He was found by Stone in late 2012 inside his bike shop.
According to Stone, Jorgensen was oblivious to his son’s success as opposed to how he expected him to know about his now famous son.
“I’d considered a number of ways he might react to my unannounced appearance but gave a very low probability to the likelihood of what actually happened: He had no idea what I was talking about. Jorgensen said he didn’t know who Jeff Bezos was and was baffled by my suggestion that he was the father of this famous CEO,” Stone wrote.
“I mentioned Jacklyn Gise and Jeffrey, the son they had during their brief teenage marriage. The old man’s face flushed with recognition. ‘Is he still alive?’ he asked, not yet fully comprehending,” he continued.
According to Stone, he took Jorgensen and his wife Linda to a dinner where he found out more about the man and his recollection of “Jeffrey”.
The 69-year-old man told him that he does not want to retire and that he has always wanted to reconnect with his former wife Jackie who got pregnant with Bezos when she was still in second year high school.
“He says he always wanted to reconnect with Jeffrey—whatever his occupation or station—and seems ashamed that he agreed to stay out of his life all those years ago. ‘I wasn’t a good father or a husband,” he says. “It was really all my fault. I don’t blame Jackie at all.’” Stone wrote.
“Jeffrey,” who is now 49 years old and lives in Seattle, Washington, has a fortune worth $27.2 billion landing him in the top 20 of the Forbes richest people in the world list.
Image from Dan Farber on Flickr (CC)