Have you ever wondered what it's like to lose a billion dollars? If so, just ask Jeff Bezos. After being named Time magazine's Person of the Year in 1999, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com had an especially hard eighteen months. Many observers questioned whether his company could even survive.

First came fallout in March 2000 from the dot-com craze. For the previous five years, investors had been throwing money at start-up companies with no viable plan for turning a profit. When the market bubble burst and tech stocks plummeted,1 Internet companies that had been valued in the billions of dollars disappeared seemingly overnight. Among the many to go were several backed by Amazon, including Pets.com, Living.com, and Kozmo.com. Bezos ...

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