Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history. His estimated net worth is $156 billion, making him the first person to accumulate a fortune over $100 billion. Bezos’ wealth is so massive that, according to Business Insider calculations, spending $88,000 to him is similar to an average American spending $1. And he intends to spend his entire fortune for the good of humanity, but it might not be in the way that you’d think.
Amazon is the primary source of Bezos’ considerable wealth. He founded the company in 1994, and today he’s the CEO and largest stockholder, with a 16% stake in the company. As the Amazon stock price increases so does its leaders’ wealth. Since its IPO in 1997, Amazon’s split-adjusted stock price has increased 97,000%.
Amazon has turned into a brand that touches almost every aspect of life and has grown through lucrative acquisitions and investments. In 2009, Amazon purchased the online shoe retailer Zappos for $1.2 billion. In 2017 the company bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, giving Amazon a hold on 18% of the U.S. online grocery market. And in February of 2018, the company unveiled Amazon Web Services — its $17.5 billion cloud computing business.
Not surprisingly, the richest man in the country is also one of the largest land owners in the country. He owns a 5.3 acre home in Medina, Washington that’s valued at $25 million. His estate neighbors the second richest living person, Bill Gates. Bezos also owns a $23 million townhouse in Washington, DC neighboring the Obama’s, and Ivanka Trump. On top of that, he has a $25 million mansion in Beverly Hills, and three apartments in New York City, that total a value of $17 million. And finally, his largest real estate purchase is a 30,000-acre ranch in Van Horn Texas that serves as a base for his space exploration company, Blue Origin, but we’ll get back to that.
To get around to all his homes and investments, Bezos owns a $65 million Gulfstream jet. Unlike his billionaire peers, Bezos doesn’t engage in public philanthropy very often, but he has made large donations to Mary’s Place, an organization that supports Seattle’s homeless population. As well as TheDream.US, which supports people protected by the Dream Act.
He does, however, publicly invest in and fund projects. In 2013 Bezos funded and led an expedition to recover one of the rocket engines from the Apollo 12 mission, from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. On his request, NASA donated it to Seattle’s Museum of Flight. In early 2018 Bezos provided $42 million in funding for the 10,000-year clock through The Long Now Foundation. The clock is meant to be a symbol of long-term thinking.
He’s made a number of investments and acquisitions through is Venture Capital firm, Bezos Expeditions and he’s personally invested in Google, Uber, Airbnb, and more, including his 2013 purchase of The Washington Post for $250 million, but his most ambitious venture has been Blue Origin.
Its rocket New Sheppard has had several successful test flights, and it’s currently developing a larger rocket called New Glenn. He liquidates $1 billion of Amazon stock per year to fund the project and its goals of supporting large-scale human space flight and colonizing the solar system. And he plans to use all his wealth to fund space exploration. Bezos believes it’s his most important work. He hopes Blue Origin will increase human production and efficiency and will help avoid civilization stasis.
Jeff Bezos: I’m very lucky because I feel like I have a mission-driven purpose with Blue Origin that is I think incredibly important for civilizations long term.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published on December 26, 2018.