Today is Jeff Bezos’ last day as CEO of Amazon, ending a remarkable 27-year streak that has seen the e-commerce giant become one of the world’s most valuable public companies, with a market capitalization of $ 1.8 trillion. In the process, his fortune grew 12,425%, an increase of $ 196 billion since 1998 when he first appeared on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans with a net worth of 1. , $ 6 billion. Today, he is worth nearly $ 202 billion, which makes him the richest person on the planet.
Bezos will always remain the executive chairman of Amazon, while Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy, ââwho joined the online retailer in 1997, will resume day-to-day operations as CEO on July 5. Bezos won’t be as involved with the company he founded in 1994; Instead, he will focus on his other interests, including his charities – the Bezos Day One Fund and the Bezos Earth Fund – as well as his commercial space company, Blue Origin, which is expected to take him and his brother Mark to space. in July. 20.
Bezos first became a billionaire in 1998, the year after Amazon went public as an online bookseller. At the time, the company was just beginning to expand its older books by allowing customers to purchase CDs online. That year, Amazon’s average stock price was only $ 7.47, a fraction of the $ 3,487.40 that stocks are worth today.
Over the next two decades, Amazon’s business began to expand into other industries. In 2005, the company launched its now famous Prime membership service, offering customers paying an annual fee of $ 79 free two-day delivery. (Amazon Prime now costs $ 119 per year.) In 2006, Amazon established its Amazon Web Services cloud computing unit, which is now the most profitable branch of the business. It launched into video streaming in 2011, groceries by acquiring Whole Foods in 2017, home security with its purchase of Ring in 2018 and also film production – which it aims to expand with its recent offering. for MGM studios in May.
Amazon’s growing size and influence has drawn criticism from all corners of the political spectrum. Antitrust regulators are investigating the company, union activists seek to unionize Amazon’s vast warehouse network, progressive lawmakers have publicly criticized Bezos’ massive wealth, and Tories have denounced Amazon’s move earlier this year to withdraw a book on transgender issues. Amazon responded at the time by saying it had a policy of refusing to sell books presenting LGBTQ identities as mental illnesses.
Despite recent hurdles and antitrust concerns, Amazon’s stock price has continued to soar, rewarding its founder with ever-growing fortune. Bezos became the richest person in the world in 2018 when his net worth doubled from $ 81.5 billion in October 2017 to $ 160 billion the following October, thanks to the surge in Amazon stock prices. . He beat Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg, becoming the first person to rack up a 12-figure fortune on Forbes annual ranking of the 400 richest Americans. It has remained at the top of the list since then, especially as the pandemic has pushed Amazon shares to new heights. Elon Musk briefly overtook Bezos as the richest in the world in January this year, and LVMH chief Bernard Arnault of France did the same in May, but the surge in Amazon shares put him back. at the top. Since 2019, Bezos’ fortune has increased by 73%, despite the fact that he gave a quarter of his Amazon shares to his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott when they divorced that year.
Almost 90% of his fortune, or roughly $ 176 billion, lies in his 10% stake in Amazon, Forbes estimates. The remainder is divided between his investment in rocket company Blue Origin, various houses across the country, the Washington post newspaper and a host of investments in at least two dozen tech and biotech companies. Over the years, Bezos has sold nearly $ 27 billion in Amazon stock (pre-tax), leaving him with tens of billions to spend as he pleases. Time will tell how he chooses to continue spending it.