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Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Jeff Bezos, Amazon

Bezos was 34 when we featured him in the November 9, 1998 issue under the headline "Is the party over for Amazon?"

Already a billionaire, the Amazon.com founder had just made what would be a life-changing decision: "He could join forces with Bertelsmann AG to expand his business. Or he could go it alone, knowing full well that the German publishing giant would turn to one of his competitors for help in building its online bookstore." Bezos turned them down and never looked back, though Bertelsmann indeed turned to Barnes and Noble.

The party wasn't over, and today, it's going so strong it's still waking up neighbors. Back then, Bezos had just begun selling DVDs on Amazon and was hoping to expand in Europe. Today, Amazon is thriving in eight countries including the U.S. and the Kindle leads the growing pack of e-reader devices. Fortunately, Bezos' signature giggle hasn't changed with time.

NEXT: Jeffrey Immelt, GE
Last updated December 01 2010: 6:26 PM ET
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