"He has helped guarantee that the world of buying and selling will never be the same," Time deputy managing editor James Kelly wrote issues that will appear on newsstands tomorrow. Bezos is "the driving force behind the striking growth in Internet commerce over the past 12 months."
Bezos, 35, is the fourth-youngest person to win the annual award, which singles out a person who, for better or worse, most influenced events in the past year. Younger winners were aviator Charles Lindbergh, who was 25 when named chosen in 1927; Queen Elizabeth II, who was 26 when selected in 1952; and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., who was 34 when chosen in 1963.
Amazon.com, based in Seattle, began selling books online in 1995 and went public in May 1997. As it continues to be the Internet's largest retailer, the company has opened an auction site this year.
Amazon.com so far has had losses totaling $550 million. Bezos told Time that its books, video and compact disc retail businesses will be profitable this year. One analyst said the company's fourth-quarter sales could more than double to $569.2 million and increase 68 percent to $2.6 billion next year.
Amazon's shares have risen 76 percent this year. Since the company went public, its stock has skyrocketed 5,571 percent, while the Standard & Poor's 500 Index has risen 64 percent.
Time also named several "People Who Mattered" in 1999--Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Jordan's Queen Noor, professional golfer Tiger Woods, Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates and Joel Klein, the U.S. assistant attorney general leading the U.S. government's antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft.
Last year, President Bill Clinton and former independent counsel Kenneth Starr were named Time's "Men of the Year."
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