Jeff Bezos briefly leapfrogs Bill Gates as world’s richest person

Jeff Bezos at the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference on July 13 in Sun Valley, Idaho.
(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

Twenty-three years ago, Jeff Bezos was selling books out of his garage. On Thursday, the Amazon chief executive at least temporarily dethroned Bill Gates as the richest person in the world.

Following a 1.3% jump in Inc. shares Thursday morning, Bezos, 53, was worth as much as $91.3 billion, according to Forbes’ real-time list of billionaire rankings. That pushed him above Gates, who’s worth about $90 billion. As Amazon’s stock reversed course later Thursday, however, Gates was back on top.

Gates, 61, held the title since May 2013, according to Bloomberg, which early Thursday estimated the pair a little closer, with Bezos at $90.9 billion and Gates at $90.7 billion. Gates also regained the top spot on Bloomberg’s list as the day wore on.

The Microsoft co-founder has held the top spot for 18 of the past 23 years, and would presumably have a cushier lead over Bezos were it not for their differing approaches to charity.


Gates has given away more than $31 billion over the course of his lifetime and recently committed to funding an effort to wipe out polio. He has said he will give the majority of his wealth to charity.

Bezos’ record of charitable giving is shorter. Forbes estimates he has given a total of around $100 million. He recently took to Twitter to crowdsource ideas for ways to philanthropically spend his fortune.

Amazon’s shares traded above $1,083 a day after the company said it’s hoping to hire 50,000 people across the U.S., before pulling back below $1,050 at 10:47 a.m. Pacific time. The retailer, which plans to acquire Whole Foods, is fresh off its third annual Prime Day.

Amazon shares have surged 40% since January, helping Bezos tack on around $24 billion to his net worth this year alone.

As of February, Bezos owned nearly 81 million shares of Amazon, accounting for around 17% of the company and the vast majority of his fortune.

Bezos started 2017 fourth on the list behind Gates, Spanish business tycoon Amancio Ortega and American businessman and investor Warren Buffet. The top 10 is rounded out by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Mexican businessman Carlos Slim, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, businessman and politician Michael Bloomberg, French business magnate Bernard Arnault and Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch.




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