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Dave Selinger Once Turned Down Jeff Bezos – Now, Amazon is His Lead Investor

Selinger’s latest venture, Deep Sentinel, has acquired Bezos as its lead Seed investor. If Jeff Bezos approached you and asked – no, begged – you to work for him in a specialized position at Amazon, would you turn him down? Chances are that, after the initial shock of the situation left you, you would probably […]

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Selinger’s latest venture, Deep Sentinel, has acquired Bezos as its lead Seed investor.

If Jeff Bezos approached you and asked – no, begged – you to work for him in a specialized position at Amazon, would you turn him down?

Chances are that, after the initial shock of the situation left you, you would probably have a series of follow-up questions if you didn’t outright accept. But we’re talking about Jeff Bezos as we know him now in 2021. If he had begged you to work for Amazon twenty years ago, your first reaction would likely have been far less enthusiastic.

That is exactly what happened to Dave Selinger in 2003. At the time, Selinger operated an e-commerce business selling coffee makers online. His business was doing so well it caught the eye of Bezos who practically begged Selinger to spearhead Amazon Research, the company’s new (at the time) data-mining R&D group. 

But Selinger’s expertise was in software, not data. Feeling he lacked the proper credentials, Selinger turned Bezos down, and not just once, either. Selinger was offered the job nearly a half-dozen times before he finally relented. Over the next few years, Selinger and his team found potential for Amazon to make money selling advertising space on their website. Selinger and his team at Amazon would go on to develop Amazon’s well-known product recommendation system using algorithms to track consumer behavior and data, setting a new precedent for businesses in the world of digital retail.

As for the results, Amazon’s stock prices alone can fill in the blanks.

Bezos would be forever indebted to Selinger’s ambition and tenacity to go against the grain. Even after leaving Amazon, Selinger recalled the lessons Bezos had taught him, such as the importance of making decisions based on data over emotions. Selinger would carry these lessons with him into his next ventures, Redfin and RichRelevance, which he co-founded in 2004 and 2006 respectively. 

At Redfin, Selinger helped create “the world’s first real-time mapping and real estate data analytics engine,” while during his time at RichRelevance, Selinger created a product recommendation system (similar to the one he had developed at Amazon) which is sold to and utilized by online retailers such as Walmart, Office Depot, Target, and Costco. 

RichRelevance has since gone on to become the world’s leading customer data personalization platform for online retailers, generating approximately $3 billion in annual revenue for its clients and garnering further attention to Selinger’s pioneering of AI and machine learning skill set from the eyes of like-minded investors. 

Ten years after founding RichRelevance – and recognizing a gap in other industries that AI could fill – Selinger founded his latest venture, Deep Sentinel, in 2016. Deep Sentinel offers dynamic and comprehensive home security solutions through a blend of proprietary AI, HD smart cameras, and 24/7 human monitoring to proactively stop crimes like package theft, break-ins, and burglary before it happens. “”Deep Sentinel was created to make peoples’ lives better. We’re protecting individuals and families by actively preventing crime from ever occurring,” says Selinger. 

Selinger’s lead seed investor in this new venture is none other than his former boss: Amazon founder and Chariman Jeff Bezos.

Now, along with his position as CEO and co-founder of Deep Sentinel, Selinger also holds a broad range of patents in the realms of analytics, data mining, and customer segmentation – over a dozen of which he pioneered through his time at RichRelevance. He has also been recognized as a top “40-Under-40” innovator in San Francisco and Silicon Valley region of California, and continues to use his experience as a pioneering entrepreneur in data personalization and AI to educate others on the lessons he learned from his time at Amazon and beyond through thought leadership and speaking engagements.

As far as what may be next in line for a serial entrepreneur like Selinger, only time will tell; but with the backing of industry leaders and entrepreneurial giants such as Bezos behind him, it can be safely assumed that the AI expert will continue to make waves in the innovation landscape.

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