Jeff Bezos, 58, is an American businessperson, entrepreneur, philanthropist, media mogul and citizen astronaut who is the mastermind and former CEO/president of retail juggernaut Amazon.
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Bezos presently has a net worth of $184.5 billion, according to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List.
Jeff Bezos’ wealth over the years
Bezos has been a billionaire since 1999 — the year after Amazon went public — and he was the richest person in the world from 2017, when he surpassed Bill Gates, through 2020.
In early January 2021, Bezos was overtaken by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as the wealthiest person on the list, and the two since have swapped places from time to time. As of April 7, Bezos is the second-wealthiest person on Earth, after Musk.
At its apex, Bezos’ net worth was $200 billion. Had he not had to divide his assets with his former wife MacKenzie, his net worth would have topped $250 billion, according to Celebrity Net Worth.
Jeff Bezos’ early life and career
Bezos was born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen to Jacklyn and Ted Jorgensen on January 12, 1964, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His parents divorced when he was a toddler, and his mother married Miguel Bezos. Miguel adopted the boy, who then took on the surname Bezos. Jeff grew up in Houston and had a keen interest in science. When he was about to enter high school, his family moved to Miami. He was an excellent student and was the valedictorian.
He fell in love with computer science while at Princeton University and graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science in 1986.
Upon graduation, he had the pick of many plum opportunities, but he chose to work for Fitel, a financial technology firm. He migrated into banking and got a job at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw & Co. By the time he left the firm four years later, he had ascended to the position of senior vice president.
It was at D.E. Shaw & Co. that Bezos met his future wife and got the idea to transition to using the world wide web for his next business venture — an online bookstore he named Amazon.
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Amazon makes Bezos a billionaire
On July 16, 1995, Seattle-based Amazon opened its virtual doors and started selling books online. Bezos himself helped to package up the orders and deliver the boxes to the post office for shipping.
After growing from its start as a book seller, Amazon expanded to offer a slew of products and services to customers around the globe, which helped it surpass $100 billion in annual sales in record time. Today, the company holds a valuation of approximately $1.6 trillion.
As Amazon stock climbed, so did Bezos’ net worth. The share price closed at $3,175.12 on April 7.
Bezos owns 49.9 million Amazon shares, according to Yahoo Finance, which represents about 10% of outstanding shares. He gave his ex-wife 19.8 million shares as part of their divorce settlement. In addition, he has cashed out hundreds of thousands of shares over the last year or so and gifted nearly 5,000 shares so far in 2022.
At the end of the day, Bezos amassed astounding wealth — and significant controversy over how much he pays workers and donates to charity — while using Amazon to disrupt virtually every consumer industry.
Jeff Bezos’ other business ventures
Bezos launched his next passion project, Blue Origin, a business geared toward human space flight, in 2000.
In 2013, Bezos became one of the largest players in the news industry after he purchased The Washington Post for $250 million.
In March 2017, Bezos purchased Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com for $580 million, CNBC reported. That gave him an opportunity to expand Amazon to the Middle East.
In 2017, Bezos also purchased the Whole Foods grocery store for $13.7 billion, which paved the way for Amazon to revitalize its food delivery service, Amazon Fresh.
Bezos also has major investments in companies other than his own. He holds at least $1 billion worth of stock in Google parent company Alphabet — he was a pre-IPO investor, Celebrity Net Worth reported. He also invests in a number of companies, including Arrived Homes, Airbnb, Twitter and Uber, through his personal venture capital firm Bezos Expeditions.
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Jeff Bezos retires as Amazon CEO
Jeff Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon — the company he founded that made him a global figure — on July 5, 2021. He chose that day for sentimental reasons. It was, after all, the 27th anniversary of the day the company was incorporated in 1994.
Since his retirement as Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos has been spending time sending rockets into space, including ships not only holding the iconic billionaire himself but celebrities as well. His company, Blue Origin, previously sent William Shatner, the legendary Captain Kirk, as well as “Good Morning America” host Michael Strahan, into orbit.
Jeff Bezos Steps Up His Charitable Giving
Jeff Bezos has not always been viewed as the most generous billionaire, as he has donated less than others, such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, to charitable organizations and causes. Bezos also has refrained from participating in The Giving Pledge. Ex-wife MacKenzie Scott committed to the initiative, in which the world’s wealthiest people pledge to donate half their wealth either throughout their lifetime or after their death. Gates, Buffett and about 230 others have signed The Giving Pledge.
However, in 2020, Jeff Bezos made the single largest charitable donation of the year, giving $10 billion to launch the Bezos Earth Fund, an organization that supports nonprofits working to fight climate change. Bezos also made a $100 million donation to the Feeding America COVID-19 Response Fund.
Read: Nearly 40% of America’s Wealthiest Billionaires Give Relatively Nothing to Charity
Jeff Bezos’ Personal Life
While working at D.E. Shaw, Bezos met aspiring novelist MacKenzie Tuttle. The pair were married in 1993 and share four children. They divorced in 2019, and it has been reported that the split was amicable.
The couple purchased an estate in the Medina neighborhood of Seattle in 1998. It consisted of two homes totaling nearly 29,000 square feet. Bezos purchased the neighboring property, which consisted of five acres and a 24,000-square-foot house, in 2010. The compound is believed to be Bezos’ primary home.
Jeff Bezos Expands His Real Estate Portfolio
Bezos added a Texas ranch to his portfolio in 2004. Located near Van Horn, the property serves as the base of operations for Blue Origin, according to Architectural Digest.
Bezos owns estates in Beverly Hills, California, worth more than $200 million. He owns adjoining mansions purchased in 2007 for $24.45 million and in 2017 for $12.9 million, according to Architectural Digest. In 2020, he paid $165 million for a historic mansion previously owned by David Geffen.
His portfolio also includes a number of properties in Manhattan. Bezos added four Manhattan apartments in 2019 and 2020 to two he already owned. The more recent acquisitions include a 10,000-square-foot penthouse overlooking Madison Square Park.
He also owns at least two properties in Washington, D.C., purchased in 2016 and 2020 for $23 million and $5 million, respectively.
Last year, Bezos paid $78 million for a 14-acre compound in Hawaii, Architectural Digest reported, bringing the total value of his real estate portfolio to at least $578 million.
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Jeff Bezos’ Luxury Toys
Along with his impressive real estate portfolio, Bezos owns private jets — including two Gulfstream aircraft — for his personal travel needs. His limited liability company, Poplar Glen, paid $5.5 million for a hangar at Seattle’s Boeing Field to store his jets in 2015.
Despite his enormous wealth, Bezos wouldn’t crack the top ten richest individuals of all time, Celebrity Net Worth reported. In fact, at his highest net worth of $200 billion, his wealth was only the 11th-highest ever amassed by a single individual after adjusting for inflation.
Jeff Bezos might not be the richest person ever, or even the richest at present, but that could change at any time.
Jennifer Taylor and Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.
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