Jeff Bezos becomes the richest person in modern history, topping $150 billion
Jeff Bezos, founder, CEO and chairman of Amazon.com, holds the company’s first sign, quickly spray-painted prior to an interview with a Japanese television station in 1995, at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.(Andy Rogers / AP)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Inc., appears on the cover of the Dec. 20, 1999, issue of Time magazine as the magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 1999.(Time via AP)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, demonstrates a cordless power drill and reciprocating saw as he wears a western-style hard hat at a New York news conference, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 1999.(Richard Drew / AP)
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, shows the basement where he launched his company that is now the largest book retailer in the world and pioneer of retailing through the web in this 1999 file photo.(JIMI LOTT / Seattle Times)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos holds a mixer in the Chicago Tribune test kitchen in 2000, when Amazon was beginning to sell houseware goods.(Bill Hogan / Chicago Tribune)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, holds a large, stuffed Pikachu Pokemon doll as he listens to comments at a New York news conference, Tuesday Nov. 9, 1999.(Richard Drew / AP)
Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon.com, left, addresses the media as John Eyler, CEO of Toys R Us Inc., looks on during a news conference Thursday, August 10, 2000, in New York.(Stuart Ramson / AP)
Diana Brooks, left, president and CEO of Sotheby’s, and Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Inc., address a news conference at Sotheby’s in New York, Wednesday June 16, 1999. Internet superstore Amazon.com invested about $45 million for a 1.7 percent stake in Sotheby’s.(Richard Drew / AP)
Microsoft CEO Bill Gates presents a T-shirt as a retirement gift to “Clippy,” a person dressed as the Microsoft Office Assistant, as Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos looks on at the Office XP launch, May 31, 2001, in New York.(STAN HONDA / AFP/Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, left, meets with Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp. chairman and chief software architect, at a New York news conference to launch Microsoft’s new software, Office XP, Thursday, May 31, 2001.(Marty Lederhandler / AP)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, is shown during an interview at the online retail company’s offices in Seattle on May 2, 2001.(Andy Rogers / AP)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, left, jokes with customers while at the The Billy Goat in Chicago in December 2001. At the grill are Billy Goat employees Spiros Sarivicile, front, and Ramon Gobinic.(David Klobucar / Chicago Tribune)
Tennis star Anna Kournikova, left, and Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos pose for photographers during an announcement for a sports bra Kournikova designed Friday, Aug. 22, 2003, in Grand Central Terminal, New York.(Gregory Bull / AP)
In a 2005 file photo Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos holds a copy of “Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies” by Douglas Hofstadter — the first book sold on-line by Amazon.com.(Ted S. Warren / AP)
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, introduces the Kindle at a news conference on Monday, Nov. 19, 2007 in New York.(Mark Lennihan / AP)
hoto dated May 6, 2009 shows online retail giant Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos unveiling the Kindle DX in New York.(Emmanuel Dunand / AFP/Getty Images)
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos holds the new Amazon tablet called the Kindle Fire on September 28, 2011 in New York City.(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos, who paid $250 million to buy The Washington Post, introduces the Kindle Fire HD tablets at a news conference in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2012.(Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, left, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott arrive for a news conference unveiling the new Blue Origin rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015. Bezos announced a $200 million investment to build the rockets and capsules in the state and lau(Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP)
Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin, a private space flight services company. In 2016, he said commercial space exploration can advance at the fast pace of Internet commerce only if the cost is reduced through advances in reusable rockets.(Matthew Staver / Bloomberg)
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos speaks during a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump and technology industry leaders at Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.(Evan Vucci / AP)
This file photo taken on June 19, 2017 shows President Donald Trump and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella as they listen to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during an American Technology Council roundtable at the White House.(Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon, arrives for the third day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 13, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world’s most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference.(Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history.
The Amazon.com Inc. founder’s net worth broke $150-billion Monday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s about $55 billion more than Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates, the world’s second-richest person.
Bezos, 54, has now topped Gates in inflation-adjusted terms. The $100-billion mark that Gates hit briefly in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom would be worth about $149 billion in today’s dollars. That makes the Amazon chief executive richer than anyone else on Earth since at least 1982, when Forbes published its inaugural wealth ranking.
Bezos crossed the threshold just as Amazon prepared to kick off its 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day.
But the Prime Day sale got off to a rocky start as glitches struck Amazon’s website and mobile app. Shares of the company, which had climbed to a record $1,841.95 earlier Monday, pared gains on the news, closing up 0.5% at $1,822.49. Bezos’ stay above $150 billion may be short-lived. Amazon shares slipped below $1,800 in extended trading after Netflix Inc. posted disappointing results, rattling tech investors.
Bezos’ net worth has soared by $52 billion this year, which is more than the entire fortune of Mukesh Ambani, the newly crowned richest person in Asia. It also puts Bezos’ personal fortune within spitting distance of the Walton family’s $151.5 billion; the Waltons are the world’s richest dynasty.
“It’s hard to even put it in perspective,” said Michael Cole, chief executive of Cresset Family Office. “It’s such a staggering number.”
A Federal Reserve report found the top 1% of U.S. families controlled 38.6% of wealth in the United States in 2016, compared with 22.8% held by the bottom 90%. Last year, Oxfam International found that more than 80% of earnings went to the top 1% of the world population.
Behind Bezos on the Bloomberg index is Gates, with a $95.5-billion fortune, followed by Warren Buffett with $83 billion.
Gates would have had a net worth of more than $150 billion if he’d held onto assets that he has given away, largely to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He has donated almost 700 million Microsoft shares and $2.9 billion of cash and other assets since 1996, according to an analysis of his publicly disclosed giving.
Carville and Metcalf write for Bloomberg.
2:15 p.m.: This article was updated to include Prime Day glitches and Amazon’s stock movement.
This article was originally published at 11:50 a.m.
Your guide to our clean energy future
Get our Boiling Point newsletter for the latest on the power sector, water wars and more — and what they mean for California.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.