By Stephen Wandera
KIU, Main Campus – Jeff Bezos has become the first person to cross the $200 billion threshold after his net worth hit $205 billion as of September 2, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
CNBC reported last week that even adjusting for inflation, Forbes believes Amazon owner Bezos’ fortune is the largest ever amassed. The person to come closest is Gates, who was the world’s first-ever centi billionaire. Near the height of the dot-com bubble, when Microsoft reached its then-peak in 1999, Gates’ net worth surpassed $100 billion, roughly $158 billion in today’s dollars.
Fueled by the change in consumer habits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon stock is up nearly 80% since the beginning of the year, and Bezos’ net worth, which was roughly $115 billion on January 1, has skyrocketed in tandem. Bezos’ roughly 11% stake in Amazon makes up more than 90% of his fortune. He also owns the Washington Post, aerospace company Blue Origin and other private investments.
Bezos would be even richer had he not gone through the most expensive divorce settlement in history last year. When he divorced from ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, last July, he agreed to give her 25% of his Amazon stake, a chunk of stock now worth $63 billion. Even after giving away $1.7 billion in charitable gifts earlier this year, Scott is currently the world’s 14th-richest person and second-richest woman, behind L’Oréal heiress Françoise Bettencourt Meyers.
Bezos isn’t alone among tech titans with fortunes surging to massive new heights. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg ended Tuesday as a brand-new centi billionaire, worth $103.1 billion after adding $3.4 billion to his fortune in one day, on Facebook stock gains. That surge continued early Wednesday afternoon, with Zuckerberg up an astonishing $6 billion just on Wednesday as of publication time. He’s now worth $109.1 billion.
There are now more centi billionaires on the planet than ever. Joining Bezos, Gates and the newly crowned Zuckerberg is LVMH chair Bernard Arnault, who first joined the 12-figure ranks last year. Though his net worth slipped to about $80 billion at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic in March, Arnault reclaimed the centi billionaire title in May and today is worth about $115 billion. This makes him the third-richest person on earth – $90 billion poorer than Jeff Bezos.
A regulatory filing made public revealed that Bezos donated 7,548 Amazon shares – worth about $26 million – to an undisclosed nonprofit organization.
Picture credit: Biography