Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN), reportedly saw a $24 billion increase in his net worth in 2018, lifting his total to $123 billion. That increased his distance from Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, and Warren Buffett, each of whom experienced a drop.
Bezos, 54 years old, is the world’s richest man, due primarily to his holdings in Amazon. Gates, in second place at 63, made his money due mostly to his Microsoft holdings. Over the course of 2018, his net worth fell almost $2 billion to $90 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which keeps a list of the world’s richest people. The figures change each day according to a Bloomberg formula. Buffett (88) ranks third on the list, with a net worth of $83 billion, down slightly more than $2 billion for the year. Buffet’s net worth is based almost exclusively on his holdings of Berkshire Hathaway, of which he is the founder and chief executive.
Bezos founded Amazon in 1994. During the company’s first two years in business, it was called Cadabra. Amazon was initially an online bookstore that competed with several larger brick-and-mortar companies, led by Barnes & Noble. Over time, it diversified the inventory it sold and expanded into a large number of other countries. These include the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India and Mexico.
Amazon continues to grow at a torrid pace. In the third quarter of 2018, its revenue rose 29% year over year to $56.6 billion. Of this, over $34 billion came from North America. International contributed just over $15 billion. Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud computing operation in the world, posted revenue of nearly $7 billion.
Amazon’s e-commerce business has diversified well beyond the simple sale of goods online. It has built a massive subscription program called Prime, which has over 100 million members worldwide. Membership gives people a number of benefits, including free shipping and Amazon’s streaming video business, which competes with Netflix, Hulu and the streaming services of several media conglomerates. Amazon also has developed home assistant devices powered by its artificial intelligence Alexa software.
Based on Amazon’s own forecasts, its near-term growth will continue at its current rate. If that drives the company’s stock higher, Bezos may well post another sizable increase in his net worth in 2019.