- The Amazon founder is already worth $40billion more than he was just last year
- Amazon is now number 8 on the Fortune 500 list with a revenue of $177.87billion
- Bezos came up with the idea to create Amazon when he was just 30 years old
- He had a stable job at NY hedge fund but dreamed of opening online bookstore
What started as an online bookstore in 1994 as an innovative idea to tap into the infinite potential of the Internet has grown into a business that has made Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, the richest man on earth. The Forbes World’s Billionaires list on Monday showed Bezos with a net worth of $141.9 billion, which is nearly $40 billion more than he was last year.
Bezos’ wealth has grown more than $5 billion since June 1, replacing replace Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corporation, on the top spot. Gates, who is now the second richest man in the world has a net worth of $92.9 billion.
Meanwhile, Warren Buffett, billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, trailed at the third spot with a net worth of $92.2 billion. He was followed by the CEO of French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH Bernard Arnault with a net worth of $80.8 billion.
Bezos, quit a hedge fund to follow his dream and open his fledgling company in a garage, officially became the world’s richest person earlier this year when his net worth was charted to be $112 billion. The growth in terms of numbers was replicated not just in terms of his personal wealth but also in terms of the positioning of his company, Amazon, which became the second most valuable company in the world after Apple earlier this month.
Bezos’ story began at the age of 30 when he discovered that the Internet usage was growing at the rate of 2,300 per cent per year. Sensing the untapped potential of the Internet, which at the time was at its nascent stages, Bezos quit his job as the Vice President of hedge fund DE Shaw Group in Manhattan and opened a startup in a garage for selling books online. Gradually, he expanded the operations and opened Amazon.com in July 1995.
Bezos came up with the idea when he was 30 years old, dreaming of opening up an online bookstore filled with millions of titles. He launched Amazon in 1994
‘I’d never seen or heard of anything that grew that fast,’ he told Princeton University, his alma mater, during a 2010 commencement address.
‘The idea of building an online bookstore with millions of titles – something that simply couldn’t exist in the physical world – was very exciting to me.’
But at the time Bezos was recently married and had a plush job as the vice president of the hedge fund D.E. Shaw Group in Manhattan.
His wife MacKenzie told him to go for it, but his boss urged him to stick to stability.
As they went on a long walk in Central Park and Bezos told him of a fantasy he had that would one day become Amazon, his boss said: ‘That sounds like a really good idea, but it would be an even better idea for someone who didn’t already have a job.’
His boss urged Bezos to take 48 hours to think about his decision. The future CEO then realized how he would feel, decades into the future, if he didn’t at least try.
‘In most cases, our biggest regrets turn out to be acts of omission,’ he said at the Summit LA conference in 2017.
‘It’s paths not taken and they haunt us. We wonder what would have happened. I knew that, when I’m 80, I would never regret trying this thing that I was super excited about and it failing.’
‘If it failed, fine. I would be very proud of the fact when I’m 80 that I tried. I also knew that it would always haunt me if I didn’t try.’ So Bezos decided to take the ‘less safe path’ and follow his passion, launching Amazon in 1994. The company went public three years later and has only been growing since.
This year Amazon entered the top 10 of the Fortune 500 list for the very first time, jumping four spots to eighth place with a revenue of $177.87billion.
It ranks only behind Walmart – who took the top spot – followed by Exxon Mobil, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, Unitedhealth Group, McKesson, and CVS.
But Bezos’ success has come amid controversy surrounding the treatment and pay of his own employees. The median salary of the 566,000 employees at Amazon was $28,446 in 2017, according to CNN Money.
And just days ago more than 400 employees from the Washington Post signed an open letter asking for better pay and benefits from Bezos, who bought the paper in 2013.
More than 400 employees of the paper signed a public letter to Bezos asking him to remedy working conditions at the newspaper after more than a year of unsuccessful negotiations
The employees specifically asked for ‘fair wages, fair benefits for retirement, family leave, health care, and a fair amount of job security.’
But Bezos’ success has come amid controversy surrounding the treatment and pay of his own employees, including the Washington Post – which he bought in 2013
A video featuring employees of the DC newspaper was also released with the open letter to discuss the unsuccessful negotiations they’ve had with upper management.
‘More than one year ago, the Guild’s bargaining committee entered into negotiations with the Post, hoping to achieve some of the benefits for our members and share in the success that we’ve had for the past year,’ Freddy Kunkle, Metro reporter and co-chair of the Guild at the Washington Post, said in the video.
The petition noted that within the last year, ‘the Post has doubled the number of digital subscriptions and increased its online traffic by more than half’, along with meeting or exceeding its advertising team’s targets.
But the Post’s employees say they haven’t reaped the benefits of this progres.
‘What we’ve found instead is a profound unwillingness by the Post’s top management to meet us halfway on a lot of the issues that are important to us,’ Kunkle said.
The open letter concluded by asking Bezos to ‘show the world that you not only can lead the way in creating wealth, but that you also know how to share it with the people who helped you create it’.
Amazon received a phenomenal response on the Internet as the fledgling company sold books across 45 countries including the United States within 30 days of its launch. Bezos started diversifying Amazon’s offering to sell videos, CDs, toys, clothes and electronics in 1998. Amazon’s business flourished with time and the company launched its on-demand video service Amazon Unbox in 2006, which was followed by the launch of Amazon Kindle the following year.
Four years later, Amazon entered the market with Kindle Fire and two year after the launch of Kindle Fire, Bezos made headline by purchasing The Washington Post in August 2013. The same year, Amazon Prime Air was launched. Following a couple of hits and misses, Bezos took over Gates as the richest man on earth back in July 2017 before dropping back to second spot, Bloomberg reported.