Current return on $10,000: $1.3 million
In 1994, Jeff Bezos left a high-paying job at a hedge fund and took his car from New York to Seattle. Along the way, he created the business plan for an innovative ecommerce site for books, Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). In 1996, the year before the company went public, Amazon.com only generated sales of $15.7 million and absorbed a net loss of $5.8 million.
However, in May 1997, Bezos raised $54 million by taking the company public, and the stock spiked 30% on its first day of trading.
The company faced plenty of competition, including Barnes & Noble‘s (NYSE:BKS) online bookstore. But Amazon eventually evolved beyond its bookstore roots and became a gorilla of e-commerce and one of brick-and-mortar retailers’ greatest threats. The company also launched the Kindle e-reader in 2007, and by 2010, AMZN was a 100-fold returner.
The Kindle since has evolved into the Kindle Fire tablet and helped spark Amazon to further gains.