Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon, the world’s biggest online retailer. The Seattle-based company sells electronics, household goods and other products through its flagship website. It also controls the Whole Foods grocery chain and offers cloud computing and streaming services. Amazon had revenue of $514 billion in 2022.
Bezos owns about 10% of Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, according to the company’s 2023 proxy statement.
He also owns space exploration company Blue Origin, which is included at Bloomberg’s calculation of investment cost.
Determining a valuation for Blue Origin is difficult because of its unique strategy and the fact that Bezos is the sole shareholder with no apparent intent to sell, according to Chad Anderson, CEO of venture fund Space Angels.
Bezos said in April 2017 that he funds the enterprise through the sale of “about $1 billion a year of Amazon stock.” That amount is deducted from the after-tax proceeds of his known share sales from 2014 and categorized as funding for Blue Origin. In 2021 the amount was increased to $2 billion as the company performed its first human-crewed flights and Bezos’s share sales accelerated. Since 2002, he’s sold about $30 billion worth of Amazon shares, based on an analysis of Bloomberg data.
Bezos paid $250 million for the Washington Post in August 2013, which is included at cost. Bezos also paid about $500 million for superyacht, Koru, launched in 2023.
He committed $2 billion to social issues in 2018 and made a pledge in February 2020 to donate $10 billion to help counter the effects of climate change. These amounts will be deducted from his net worth when gifts are made.
The value of his cash investments includes these transactions, taxes and market performance. Bezos held 16% of Amazon before a 4% stake was transferred to MacKenzie Scott in 2019 following the pair’s divorce. About $650 million was deducted from the cash balance at this time to reflect Bloomberg’s estimate of the cost of his divorce outside of Amazon shares.
Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, declined to comment on Bezos’s net worth.
Education: Princeton University
Jeff Bezos is a former Wall Street computer engineer who created Amazon in 1994 to sell books online. After an initial public offering in 1997, Amazon stock shot up almost 40-fold, sending Bezos’s personal fortune above $12 billion. By the time the technology bubble had finished deflating in 2001, his shares were valued at less than $2 billion.
The Princeton graduate built his reputation on long-term thinking and focusing on customer service. Today, Amazon sells millions of different products, many of which are purveyed by third-party vendors that rely on Amazon’s data management services to help fulfill their orders.
The company introduced the Kindle electronic book reader in 2007. It’s now Amazon’s biggest-selling item. Four years later, Amazon released the Kindle Fire, putting the company in competition with Apple in the tablet computer business.
Bezos owns the Washington Post and also oversees Blue Origin, a space exploration company that seeks to lower the cost and increase the safety of spaceflight. He pledged $2 billion of his fortune toward preschool programs and support for homeless families in September 2018, and $10 billion to fighting climate change in February 2020.
Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Scott divorced in 2019. MacKenzie received a 4% stake in Amazon as part of their separation.
He announced in February 2021 that he would retire as chief executive of Amazon, with plans to devote more time to his philanthropy and other companies. In July 2021 he joined Blue Origin’s first crewed mission.
- 1964 Jeffrey Bezos is born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- 1986 Graduates from Princeton University. Takes job at Bankers Trust.
- 1994 Founds Amazon.com to sell books online.
- 1997 Lists Amazon in an initial public offering at $18 per share.
- 1999 Named Time magazine’s Person of the Year.
- 2003 Survives a helicopter accident in southwest Texas.
- 2007 Introduces the Kindle electronic book reader.
- 2010 E-book sales surpass traditional book sales on Amazon.com.
- 2013 Purchases the Washington Post newspaper for $250 million.
- 2017 Becomes the richest person on earth.
- 2019 Bezos and Mackenzie Scott announce they are divorcing.
- 2021 Steps down from role as Amazon chief executive officer.
- 2021 Joins Blue Origin’s first crewed mission into space.