How Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world


As of 2021, Jeff Bezos is the richest person on Earth, with his personal fortune dwarfing the wealth accumulated by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates and legendary investor Warren Buffett.Bezos ranked first in Forbes‘2020 List of America’s 400 Richest With a Net Worth of $ 179 Billion.As of the magazine’s 2021 World’s Billionaires List, it’s valued at $ 177 billion.

The founder, former CEO and now CEO of global e-commerce giant Amazon.com, Inc., was responsible for running a platform that accounted for up to 9% of all US retail sales. Huge 51.2% of sales. Digital retail spending in 2020.As digitization reshapes human behavior and the cloud computing revolution does the same for businesses, only the leader in online retail, with its high-flying cloud computing platform, is envisioned Amazon Web Services (AWS) will push higher, which means more good news for its founder.

When Bezos came up with the idea for his e-commerce venture, his well-meaning boss tried to dissuade him from leaving his steady job with DE Shaw & Co. However, Bezos, raised by his teenage mother and later his Cuban immigrant stepfather, always dreamed of with creating something different, once he told his school teachers that “the future of humanity is not on this planet.” Bezos even has a website, BezosExpeditions.com, which provides a summary of more than 30 of its major investments, projects and philanthropic efforts. The name “expeditions” is appropriate since Bezos’ investments are not concentrated in just one or two industries or even market sectors; rather, they represent an extensive exploration of many different areas and business ideas, including cloud computing, robotics, biotechnology, and even home-blown glass.

Key takeaways

  • Jeff Bezos is perhaps best known as the founder and former CEO of the Internet giant Amazon.com. He remains the CEO of the company.
  • His net worth has exceeded $ 210 billion, making him not only the richest person in the world today, but also the richest person on the planet dating back to at least 1982, when the first list was created. Forbes 400.
  • Bezos also has substantial stakes in more traditional investments, such as real estate, as well as a significant number of shares in other prominent companies.

Amazon: beyond books

The technology visionary graduated from Princeton with degrees in computer science and electrical engineering. Upon graduation, he turned down job offers from companies like Intel and Bell Labs to join a startup called Fitel. He then launched a fax news services company with Halsey Minor, the founder of CNET. After that company failed, Bezos became the youngest senior vice president of a hedge fund called DE Shaw, rising through the ranks in just four years.

Bezos could have stayed on Wall Street for the rest of his career if he hadn’t been captivated by the knowledge that, in 1994, the Internet was growing at a rate of 2,300% per year.Soon enough, his idea for Amazon was born, and the future CEO began to make a list of 20 possible product categories to sell online.

Amazon.com, then a platform for book sales, grew in its early stages from a garage with a pot-bellied stove. Bezos, who put his own $ 10,000 into the company of himself, his wife and two programmers, ironically led most of his meetings in the Barnes & Noble neighborhood.In its first month after launch in July 1995, Amazon sold books in every state in the US and 45 countries around the world.

Exceeding expectations

During Amazon’s first year, Bezos tried to raise money by forecasting $ 74 million in sales for 2000, vastly underestimating the reality: $ 1.64 billion in sales in 1999 alone.He managed to raise $ 1 million in seed money from angel investors after depleting his family’s investments, primarily his parents, who contributed a significant portion of his lifetime savings. The first 20 or so investors in Amazon put in about $ 50,000 each for a stake rounded to 1%. Each investment would now be worth approximately $ 16.71 billion, representing a return of approximately 334,200 times, given that investors kept all of their holdings and they had never been diluted by subsequent investors.In June 1996, Amazon raised another $ 8 million in Series A from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

Amazon went public in May 1997 and turned out to be one of the few startups that survived the dot-com crash. As the platform diversified its product offerings and established itself as a market leader and pioneer, annual sales soared from $ 511,000 in 1995 to more than $ 3 billion in 2001.In 2013, Bezos revealed his first plans for the company’s revolutionary Amazon Prime subscription business, with Amazon Prime Air, which would use drones to deliver to customers.

In 1998, Bezos also became one of the first investors in Google. While he hasn’t disclosed what he’s kept from the stock after their initial public offering in 2004, his $ 250,000 investment would be worth billions today. In August 2013, the business mogul bought The Washington Post for $ 250 million.Since then, its audience and traffic has skyrocketed, surpassing The New York Times in terms of unique US web viewers as of October 2015.

Amazon’s share price reflects its phenomenal growth. The stock increased more than 450% from January 2016 to January 2021 and increased more than 75% from January 2020 to January 2021 alone.Bezos owns about 11% of Amazon as of 2021, making it the largest source of his wealth.From 2017 to 2019, Bezos sold more than one million shares and also distributed additional shares to his ex-wife as part of the divorce process. The announcement of the company’s annual meeting in 2021 showed that Bezos owns more than 70 million shares.

$ 280.5 billion

Amazon boasted $ 386 billion in net sales in fiscal 2020.

Real estate

Bezos also has substantial stakes in more traditional investments, such as real estate. His 165,000 acre Corn Ranch in Texas was acquired as a base of operations for his aerospace company, Blue Origin, and serves as a test site for the manned vertical landing New Shepard suborbital rocket.

Your personal real estate includes holdings on both the East Coast and West Coast. Bezos has two multi-million dollar homes in Beverly Hills and a 10,000-square-foot apartment at the Century Tower in Manhattan that cost him just under $ 10 million. Bezos’s presence in New York is reported to have further increased Century Tower’s property values, with space selling for $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 per square foot. He also has a lakeside property in Washington state, on which he spent $ 28 million to increase the living space to nearly 30,000 square feet.

In 2012, Amazon purchased its own South Lake Union headquarters building in Seattle for $ 1.5 billion, instantly making the company one of the largest commercial property owners in the city. Amazon took possession of nearly a dozen buildings, nearly two million square feet of office space, and roughly 100,000 square feet of retail space. In August 2017, The Seattle Times reported that Amazon had as much office space as the next 40 largest Seattle employers combined.

Charitable donations

Bezos has also invested very large sums in giving back through charitable donations. In addition to the Bezos Family Foundation which funds various educational projects, Bezos has made multi-million dollar individual charitable contributions to the Seattle Museum of History and Industry, as well as to his alma mater, Princeton University.

In January 2018, Bezos and his ex-wife, MacKenzie, announced a $ 33 million donation to TheDream.US, an organization that works to improve college access for young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were kids. The grant will provide college scholarships to 1,000 high school graduates in the US with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.

Media, high-tech, glass and travel

Bezos has an affinity for the technology sector, for the media and communication services that facilitate the connection of people, and only for what he considers potentially profitable investments. In the media and communications industry, Bezos has invested in Twitter, Inc. and the popular business news website Business Insider.As mentioned above, you acquired The Washington Post in 2013 for $ 250 million.Zocdoc Inc. and Nextdoor are platforms for connecting people that Bezos has invested in.

In the travel sector, Bezos has invested more than $ 30 million in the Uber transportation service. Bezos is a huge believer in the cloud, as evidenced by Amazon’s huge push to provide cloud computing services.However, your investment interest does not end with your own company. One of his notable investment successes is Workday, Inc., a company that provides human resources services in the cloud.Shortly after Bezos’ venture capital investment in the company, it went public in an initial public offering (IPO) that raised more than $ 684 million.In the more traditional retail business arena, Bezos has also invested in Glassybaby, a company that makes blown glass holders for votive candles.

Exit ideas

Two of Bezos’s investments that generate a lot of discussion and are considered a bit outlandish are the 10,000-year-old clock and the now-complete F-1 engine recovery project. The 10,000-Year Clock Project is an effort to build a clock on the side of the Sierra Diablo mountain range in Texas, a clock that literally keeps running for 10,000 years. The watch is planned to have a chime generator that generates a different chime sound for each day. Just creating a different 10,000 x 365 ringtone sounds like a pretty daunting challenge. Bezos explained the need for the clock by saying that today’s global problems require “long-term thinking.”

The F-1 Engine Recovery Project was an effort to rescue the engines that powered Apollo 11’s flight to the moon from the ocean floor. Enough artifacts were recovered for fashion displays with two F-1 engines. The artifacts were donated to the Seattle Museum of Flight in 2015.

With his wealth on the rise, Bezos can now fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a space entrepreneur. Every year, he spends a billion dollars on his space exploration company, Blue Origin, which, in 2016, became one of the first commercial companies to launch a reusable rocket.On July 18, 2018, Blue Origin sent the New Shepard spacecraft into high altitude to test its security systems, which worked.Two years and two days later, Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Dutch student Oliver Daemen boarded the New Shepard and completed Blue Origin’s first successful crewed flight, reaching an altitude of just over 62 miles before landing safely.

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Mark Holland

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