- Jeff Bezos was briefly the world’s richest person on Thursday. The recent surge in Amazon stock has pushed Bezos’ fortune to over $90 billion, vaulting him past Bill Gates. Although he has been a billionaire for more than 20 years, his wealth has surged in the last two years.
According to Forbes and Bloomberg, the Amazon CEO had a net worth of over $89 billion as of the close of markets Wednesday, while Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates had a net worth of just over $90 billion.
Even if Bezos didn’t end the day as the richest man, he will likely take the crown from Gates more permanently in the coming days and weeks.
When he hits the mark, Bezos, who started selling books from his garage 22 years ago, becomes the first man to bump Gates from his perch in seven years and is only the sixth man to hold the “richest person” title in the past 30 years, according to Forbes.
Bezos’ rise carries important symbolic weight — signaling Amazon’s unbridled power and value, presenting a new face of outsized wealth to the world and heralding a new kind of billionaire who is skeptical of philanthropy and has massive reach in culture, technology and media. Bezos will be a stark contrast to his fellow Seattle-area resident Gates, who has topped the list for much of the past quarter-century and devotes his time and money to philanthropy.
What’s most astounding about Bezos’ rise is his recent wealth surge. He has been a billionaire for nearly 20 years, first making the Forbes list in 1998 with a net worth of $1.6 billion after Amazon’s IPO. He chugged along for the following decade, reaching $4.4 billion in 2007, gradually rising to $18.4 billion by 2012, ranking him 26th on the list.
Jeff could be the world’s first trillionaire by 2042
Jeff Bezos may be $910.7 billion away from becoming the world’s first trillionaire, but research suggests he’s closer than some might think.
A recent Oxfam report on wealth and inequality, entitled “An economy for the 99%,” found super-rich people like Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett have seen their wealth collectively grow by huge margins over the last decade. Within the next 25 years, Bezos’ wealth could jump like never seen before.
According to Oxfam’s report, there were 793 billionaires worldwide in 2009. Added up, their net worths totaled $2.4 trillion. By 2016, the richest 793 people maintained net worths of $5 trillion – an annual growth of 11%.
“If these returns continue, it is quite possible that we could see the world’s first trillionaire within 25 years,” the report stated.
In other words, Oxfam estimates that if trends hold, Bezos – whose momentary net worth of $92.3 billion briefly led the pack on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index on Thursday, before Gates reclaimed the top spot – could stand alone on future lists of “The World’s Trillionaires.”
The question that remains is whether either of the two men will try to keep increasing their wealth or put a chunk of it toward philanthropic efforts. Gates, at least, doesn’t seem to want the “world’s first trillionaire” distinction. Since leaving Microsoft in 2006, he has devoted his time and resources to eradicating infectious disease and improving education worldwide through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In partnership with Warren Buffett, Gates and his wife have created the Giving Pledge for other billionaires who want to help public causes by giving away part or most of their fortunes.
Bezos, meanwhile, has made no such commitments. He hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge and doesn’t involve himself with the Bezos Family Foundation, which his parents run. Recently, he made an open call on Twitter for ways to make lasting impact through short-term philanthropy, but he hasn’t announced that he’ll be pursuing any particular ideas.
Bezos’ greatest efforts to create social change have come through his business ventures. It was evident in his buying The Washington Post in 2013, as he quickly turned it into a lean, digital journalism powerhouse – something other large news organizations have struggled to do. Similarly, Amazons agreement to buy Whole Foods may hint at Bezos’ desire to reinvent the food industry’s supply chain. (At the very least, he has the opportunity to do so.) Submit your article