Amazon founder Jeff Bezos surpassed Bill Gates this morning to become the world’s richest person. According to Forbes estimates, the 1.6% increase put Mr. Bezos’ net worth at $90.6bn (£69.34bn) compared with Bill Gates’ $90.1bn (£68.96bn). Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has held the top spot since 2013. What’s a billion dollars between the world’s richest guys anyway?
Jeff Bezos born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1964. He prefers to keep a relatively low profile but has used some of the wealth he has amassed to buy the Washington Post and invest in space travel through Blue Origin, a company he founded in 2000. The 53-year-old founded Amazon.com in 1994 and initially operated the company from his garage.
Bezos owns 79.9 million shares or just under 17 percent of the company. His net worth has grown by $70 billion over the past five years, surging by $45 billion in the last two years alone — possibly the largest wealth-creation surge in history.
Alongside his wife, the Microsoft founder runs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world, with an endowment trust fund of $44bn (£39.6bn). It employs more than 1,400 people.
Amazon now accounts for 43% of everything sold online in the US and 64 million people have signed up for its Prime service – which gives access to free deliveries and video streaming. Amazon shares have soared this year – making the company worth more than $500bn.
Apart from having an interest in buying museums and rocket businesses, Bezos was already imagining space hotels, amusement parks, and cities orbiting the Earth. His dreams keep getting bigger with time. Bezos is planning to go into space himself too, of course – once Blue Origin is ready to take him.
According to Forbes, which started with its billionaire’s index in the year 1987, Bezos would not have been on the top today if Gates had not given away so much of his wealth in charity. It also revealed that Gates has been the richest person in the world for more than half the 30 years it had been in the business of tracking the wealth of billionaires.
Even though, it was Bezos’s idea to start giving away bananas to passers-by in Amazon’s home town of Seattle as a generous gesture, especially since about 4,500 people reportedly take up the offer every day. While he and his family have given millions to good causes, Jeff Bezos, compared to his peers, has often been criticized for not doing enough for the needy. Read more about Amazon.