Jeff Bezos | MediaGuardian 100 2012

The Amazon founder continues to innovate, taking the battle to Apple, Netflix and Google in the digital marketplace

Job: founder and chief executive, Amazon
Age: 48
Industry: digital media and online retail
2011 ranking: 12

Almost 20 years after he launched Amazon in his Seattle garage, Jeff Bezos's fervour to innovate and stay one step ahead of opponents remains undimmed.

Earlier this month Bezos unveiled new versions of its best-selling Kindle Fire tablet and e-reader, called Paperwhite ("thinner than a magazine, lighter than a paperback"), stealing Apple's thunder ahead of the launch of a rival mini-iPad.

Since launching in 1994 the online retail giant has rewritten the rules of traditional bookselling and publishing, and made the decisive move to dominate the wider digital content market with the launch of the first version of the Kindle Fire "iPad killer" last autumn.

Since then, the Kindle Fire has hoovered up 22% of tablet sales in the US and it was jingle all the way at Christmas with 95% of the 1.3m e-readers sold over the festive period in the UK.

Trade title the Bookseller reckons that Amazon controls at least 70% of the UK ebook market, which will be worth an estimated £500m in 2012, but Bezos's masterplan is to dominate a digital marketplace for content akin to Apple. Bezos is also moving into video on demand (Amazon Prime, LoveFilm), music streaming (Cloud Player) and digital storage (Cloud Drive). The Amazon Prime subscription targets fans of US online film service Netflix. This was underlined earlier this month in a major deal with premium movie channel Epix, which includes titles such as Avengers and Iron Man 2.

Sensing the threat of Netflix's international expansion, Bezos moved to take total control of LoveFilm – Amazon owned a 42% stake since 2008 – to move the UK business beyond its DVD-by-post roots to streaming video.

Netflix arrived in the UK and Ireland in January to find a well-prepared opponent hurriedly sewing up digital rights for movies.

Amazon is also waging digital war on the music front, with ambitious and controversial streaming service the Cloud Player, and is not afraid to tackle Google in the digital storage stakes with the Cloud Drive.

The 48-year-old has also kept himself busy beyond plotting digital media domination. Bezos and his wife MacKenzie pledged $2.5m to supporters of gay marriage in Washington state, in what is believed to be the largest-ever single donation to the campaign for same-sex unions in the US, after an employee emailed him asking if he might cough up just a 10th of that figure.

His other passion is space; he created a private aerospace company called Blue Origin in 2000 with an aim to make space travel more affordable, and earlier this year announced he had found the long-submerged F-1 engines used in the Apollo 11 moon mission. He hopes to raise one or more of the five engines from 4,300m below the Atlantic ocean's surface.

Never one to think about slowing down, Bezos is also spending millions to create a clock that is meant to last for 10,000 years in the wilds of west Texas.

The GuardianTramp

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