During Facetime chats with my dad, who lives on the other side of the country, he often makes reference to big changes in Seattle by asking, “What’s BEE-zos building now?” — a mispronunciation of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ last name.
I don’t correct my dad because it makes me giggle.
And no one corrected Bill Gates on Monday either.
In a luncheon at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., the Microsoft co-founder was asked about a certain online book-selling company called Amazon that eventually got into cloud services, and how Microsoft missed the business of cloud in its pre-Azure days.
“The natural companies to do the cloud would’ve been your classic enterprise vendors — IBM, Oracle, SAP — who really in terms of the true horizontal cloud, aren’t there at all,” Gates said (at 1:04 mark of video below). “It is a surprise and it’s a huge credit to Jeff Bezos and his team that they got out in front and with AWS did the best cloud product. Today Microsoft is a strong number two, and huge distance to number three.”
Only he didn’t pronounce it “BEY-zos.” Or, “BAE-zos,” if you’re a Beyoncé fan. Gates said “BEE-zos,” just like my dad, who is a few billion dollars short of being in any other conversation regarding the tech titans.
Gates is not alone in putting a less-soft-sounding e after the B in Bezos, but perhaps it signals that Bezos is not a topic of conversation with his best buddy Warren Buffett, who gets the pronunciation right.
Regardless, the mispronunciations have generated headlines (OK, tweets) in the past.
— Maria Thomas (@MariaThomas) May 17, 2019
Even the Florida governor is mispronouncing Jeff Bezos’ last name. It’s BAY-zos, not BEE-zos. http://t.co/v6dHlj3ePg
— toddbishop (@toddbishop) September 15, 2015
It's BAY-zos and I didn’t know people called him BEE-zos. It seems super weird to me that you'd look at Bezos and think “there's one ‘e’ like ‘become’ and ‘beth,’ so I’ll say BEE.” (Jeff’s dad is from Cuba; came to the U.S. as part of Operation Pedro Pan.) https://t.co/sCehBFMdgn
— Glenn Fleishman (@GlennF) February 8, 2019
Frustrated by continual mispronunciations of his name, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos orders gravestone imprinted with "It's BAY-zos, not BEE-zos."
— Janice Harayda (@FakeBookNews) January 13, 2010
And Amazonians get it wrong, too.
Responding to a request from an employee at a recent shareholder meeting to have Bezos come out from backstage to listen to her comments, Amazon general counsel David Zapolsky said to the employee that “Mr. BEE-zos” would appear later in the meeting.
After Bezos bought The Washington Post in 2013, the newspaper noted that the pronunciation of his last name has generated some confusion. The Post posted a helpful video featuring none other than the new owner, in which he says, “Hello, my name is Jeff Bezos … ”
And to BEE clear, he said “BAY-zos.”