Economics

Jeff Bezos Briefly Surpasses Bill Gates to Become World's Richest Man

Forbes, a global media company, has been tracking and ranking the richest men around the world since 1987. Since that time, the number of billionaires has increased tremendously to 2,043 who in total are worth $7.7 trillion. The Amazon CEO and founder and also the owner of Washington Post, Jeff Bezos briefly became the newest holder of the world’s richest man title. Bezos reached the $91.4 billion mark on Thursday, surpassing Bill Gates, who previously held the title with a net worth of $90.1 billion. Gates had built his fortune through the revolutionary technology company Microsoft. The surge in his net worth came after a rise in Amazon’s shares.

The 53-year-old Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, a leading online retail outlet based in Seattle, in 1994. He first operated his business from a garage. Bezos owns 17% shares in the company and has other investments in various sectors. Except for his Amazon business, Bezos has other interests and ventures. He owns the Washington Post, which he purchased for $250 million in 2013 and is also the founder of Blue Origin, an aerospace manufacturer. Bezos also has investments in various real estate firms and is himself a wealthy landowner with about 300,000 acres.

Bezos first appeared on the Forbes Top 400 list in 1998 and had since risen to become one of the richest men in the world. The highest increase in his wealth occurred between 2015 and 2017. A decline in Amazon’s shares by the close of business on Thursday ended Bezos’s short reign as the world’s richest man and reinstating Bill Gates in his former position as the richest man in the world. Despite the decline in Amazon's shares, this will not be the last time Bezos is expected to top the list. According to the CNBC, this is due to the increased growth of Amazon as a top retailer with projections of its stock increasing in value to $2000.

The Princeton graduate has, however, received criticisms for his reluctance towards philanthropy compared to billionaires such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Bill Gates has contributed more than $30 billion to charitable causes compared to Bezos’s $100 million by 2016.

According to The Washington Post, the Amazon’s Market capitalization hit the $500 billion mark, making the giant online store one of the exclusive members of the $500-billion-plus club. Other giants in the club include Apple, Alphabet (who own Google), and Microsoft. Amazon has built its online retail empire and pushed aggressively into new commodities like the apparel and groceries, in the recent past it has engaged in web services like cloud computing and won big government contracts, which significantly contributed to its profits. Its prime membership program that allows shopper pay $99 annually for unlimited two-day shipping on different purchases has been one of the Amazon’s cornerstones for success.