Chairman & Founder, Amazon
Rank on 2022 Forbes 400 List
Net Worth as of Nov. 1, 2022
AGE: 58 | SOURCE OF WEALTH: AMAZON | SELF-MADE SCORE: 8/10 | RESIDENCE: MEDINA, WASHINGTON | CITIZENSHIP: UNITED STATES | EDUCATION: BACHELORS ARTS/SCIENCE, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
Jeff Bezos quit his job at hedge fund D.E. Shaw in 1994 and drove to Seattle with his then-wife MacKenzie to launch an online bookstore. He went on to build Amazon, the most innovative and feared juggernaut in the 21st century. The world’s largest e-commerce retailer, it also dominates cloud storage and has moved into movie and series production to feed Amazon Prime Video. Bezos, who stepped down as CEO of Amazon in July 2021 but remains chairman, has invested in a slew of startups including digital media company Overtime Sports and Wildtype, which makes seafood from fish cells. In a public setback, his private rocket company Blue Origin had to abort a rocket launch in September 2022.
As of Nov. 1, 2022
📦 Amazon: $96.4 B
📰 Cash & investments: $13 B
🚀 Blue Origin: $8.7 B
🏙️ Washington Post: $2 B
🛩️ Homes: $400 M 🛥️
💵 Jets & Yacht: $140 M
“We’re gifted with some very large businesses we’ve built over time, and we can’t afford to put our energies into something that if it works, it’s still going to be small.”
Forbes estimates that Bezos has donated $2.4 billion—less than 2% of his total net worth—to charitable causes during his lifetime. While Bezos in 2020 said he would spend $10 billion to combat climate change over the next decade, Forbes only counts money out-the-door, not pledges. Forbes also doesn’t count stock gifted to nonprofits if the billionaire doesn’t reveal the recipient of those shares. In a mid-November 2022 interview with CNN, Bezos said he plans to give away the majority of his fortune in his lifetime, and also said that philanthropy is hard. “We’re building the capacity to give away this money,” he explained.
HERE ARE SOME OF BEZOS’S LARGEST DONATIONS TO DATE:
Jeff Bezos was born to a teen mom in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Strapped for cash and divorced from his biological father, Bezos’ mother Jacklyn worked as a bookkeeper at the Bank of New Mexico during the day and brought Bezos, then just an infant, to college classes with her at night. Jacklyn eventually met and married Miguel Bezos, a Cuban immigrant who came to America when he was 16. The three of them moved to Houston, Texas after Miguel took a job as an engineer at Exxon. When Bezos was four, Miguel, who goes by Mike, officially adopted Jeff as his own son.
When the internet was in its infancy, Bezos quit his high-paying Wall Street job at hedge fund D.E. Shaw to start an online bookstore operated out of his garage in Bellevue, Washington. His then-wife MacKenzie helped with a variety of tasks, including handling accounting and packing orders to ship.
Bezos took Amazon.com public in May. The following year, he became a billionaire, debuting on The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans with a $1.6 billion net worth.
Known for his ruthless leadership style and competitive streak, Bezos methodically grew Amazon into the largest online retailer in the world, often drawing the ire of mom and pop shops and smaller competitors along the way. Amazon has since branched out into other industries, including its most profitable unit: cloud computing arm Amazon Web Services. Under Bezos, Amazon has made a string of big-name acquisitions: audiobook service Audible in 2008, online shoe retailer Zappos in 2009 and, streaming service Twitch in 2014
Thanks to Amazon’s soaring stock price, Bezos became the richest person in the world in July with a net worth of $90.6 billion, surpassing Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg, Forbes reported. A month later, Amazon bought supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
Bezos’ personal life became tabloid fodder. He and MacKenzie announced their divorce on Twitter in January, just before the National Enquirer published illicit texts revealing Bezos was having an affair with now-girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.
In April Bezos announced on Twitter that he was transferring a quarter of his 16% Amazon stake, then worth $36 billion, to MacKenzie as a result of the divorce.
Bezos publicly accused National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc of blackmail in an open letter and launched his own investigation into how the tabloid got his phone contents. AMI denied any wrongdoing. The Wall Street Journal later reported that Sanchez’s brother leaked his texts and photos to the National Enquirer for a $200,000 payout.
Bezos stepped down as CEO in July after 28 years at the helm. He still serves as executive chairman. His private space company Blue Origin launched him into space in July. He stepped up his philanthropy with donations to the Obama Foundation and the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.
Bezos is focusing on endeavors outside Amazon. He commissioned a $500 million super-yacht so big that shipmaker Oceanco had to request that a historic bridge in Rotterdam be dismantled in order for the vessel to leave. After Bezos faced intense backlash, the yacht, which is on the verge of completion, was eventually towed away with the bridge still intact.