Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon out of his Seattle garage in 1994 and plowed billions of dollars into transforming the city into a tech boomtown, said Thursday that he was leaving his home of three decades and moving to Miami.
Bezos, 59, announced his move in an Instagram post Thursday night. He said his parents had recently moved back to Miami, where he attended high school, and that he wanted to be closer to them and to his partner, Lauren Sanchez.
Another factor, he said, was that operations for his rocket company, Blue Origin, are increasingly shifting to Cape Canaveral, Florida, just over 200 miles by road north of Miami along the state’s Atlantic coast.
Bloomberg News reported last month that Bezos had purchased a mansion in South Florida for $79 million, a few months after buying a neighboring one for $68 million. Bezos is worth $161 billion, making him the world’s third-richest person, according to Bloomberg.
Bezos said in his Instagram post that he had “amazing memories” of Seattle and had lived there longer than anywhere else. “As exciting as the move is, it’s an emotional decision for me,” he wrote. “Seattle, you will always have a piece of my heart.”
A brief video that Bezos posted with his Instagram announcement shows him giving a tour of Amazon’s first office, a humble affair based out of his Seattle garage. The room has a few giant white computers, a dry-erase board covered in writing and a fax machine sitting atop a gray filing cabinet.
“See this big orange extension cord?” a young Bezos, wearing jeans and in good spirits, says at one point to the cameraman, his father. “This is one of the contraptions we have to have because there’s not enough power in this room. So we have to bring in some extra circuit breakers.
“And, uh, that’s about it,” he says at the end of the video, over the sound of a dog barking. “It doesn’t take long to tour the offices of Amazon-dot-com Inc.”
It was not immediately clear late Thursday how the people of Seattle or Miami felt about his move to Miami.
As Amazon grew over the years into a colossus of internet commerce, becoming the world’s largest retail seller outside China in 2021, it poured billions of dollars into Seattle’s economy and helped to reshape its global reputation.
But Amazon has faced pushback from workers and regulators over its labor practices and corporate tactics. Bezos, who owns The Washington Post and the world’s largest sailing yacht, among other things, has plenty of detractors in Seattle and beyond.
While Bezos’ move to Miami might come as a surprise to some, it is hardly unique. In fact, he may arrive fashionably late. In early 2021, less than a year after the coronavirus pandemic upended daily life for millions of Americans, The New York Times reported on the stampede of Silicon Valley techies and Wall Street titans moving to Miami.
At the time, dozens of big-name leaders relocated: Keith Rabois, a PayPal co-founder and investor; Peter Thiel, the tech investor and prominent conservative; Jon Oringer, founder of the stock-photography provider Shutterstock; Bryan Goldberg, the media mogul; and plenty of others.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez welcomed the newcomers with open arms. The rich and wealthy have long gravitated to Miami to enjoy their fortunes and, on days off, their time on the water.
In the pandemic, it was unclear if these newcomers were just the latest generation to do so, or if they would build new companies in the city.
Though the rush of the past three years leveled out, demand has remained relatively steady in South Florida, real estate agents say.