SPOTLIGHT: Move Aside, Bill Gates! Jeff Bezos set to pass the Microsoft mogul as the richest person in the world.
By Paul Maslany | June 19th, 2017
In July, 1995 Bill Gates become the richest man in the world. In his 39 years on this planet Gates had come to amass a fortune of $12.9 billion. Twelve years later, and Gates still sits ranked #1. He has some competition though, and it seems that his reign is going to come to an end. Jeff Bezos, the Amazon magnate and owner of The Guardian newspaper and his own space travel company Blue Origin, is catching up quickly. This year has seen his net worth increase by $20 billion, putting him at a staggering $85.2 billion as of June 2, 2017. By the 6th, he passed $86 billion. At the current rate it won’t take long for him to pass Gates, who may have rose to the spot with $12.9 billion but currently has $89.3 billion. As of Thursday June 15th, 2017, he actually had fallen temporarily to 3rd as an aftershock of a dip in Amazon, and tech companies stocks in general, since the previous Friday. Still, experts predict him to reach the No. 1 spot by the end of the year, and most likely to hold it for the near future.
Comparing billionaires net worths daily while tracking the stock market can be complicated, confusing, and perhaps a bit demoralizing when you realize they make in an hour what we make in a lifetime. It’s not as difficult, however, to understand how Bezos, who was actually born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen in Albuquerque, NM, 1964, managed to climb to the top. The same concept that has made Wal-Mart a retail giant is what has made Amazon an internet retail giant.
One-stop shopping for all your needs, the efficiency that Americans have grown accustomed too. While we often pine for the nostalgia and simplicity of Main Street, America, we are all too easily drawn to these big retailers because we live in an technologically advanced age, and the breadth of products we consume, from computers and tech, to automotive, to food, and a million other things require us to get as many things in one place as we can. If not, we’d be dealing with even worse traffic congestion than we already are, with us traveling to multiple locations for a few necessities on a daily basis.
It isn’t just the convenience of Amazon that has made it successful, not by a long shot. Only someone like Jeff Bezos could make something like Amazon not only work, but work with wild success, and then grow it into something more. Cloud storage, their own tv shows, and the famous home assistant Alexa, just to name a few. As it continues to grow Bezos repeatedly invests in other ventures, normally through an investment fund called Bezos Expeditions, such as Business Insider, Uber, Airbnb, as well as others. He also invested in space travel, as mentioned earlier with his company Blue Origin. He has also dabbled into social media with the video game themed livestreaming website Twitch.
He is an obsessively driven man, who constantly reminds his shareholders that it is always ‘day one’, resending them the same letter yearly since 1997 (when Amazon floated on the stock market). His office at Amazon headquarters is in a building called ‘day one’. What does he expect for ‘day two’? “Stasis”, he wrote in a new letter this year. “Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always day one.” He claims that a constant state of ‘day one’ can be attained through “obsessive customer focus”.
Obsessive customer focus is incredibly important for a company, it’s even one of Zac Ruiz’s (owner and founder of Salt IO, my boss, and co-owner of The Technology Onramp, as well as co-host of the Leadership in Tech podcast series) main things he wants to work on in his leadership development program he’s going through with his coach Errol Doebler (Navy SEAL, former FBI SWAT, and founder and owner of the leadership development firm Leader 193, as well as Zac’s leadership coach and co-host of Leadership in Tech).
Another area where Bezos has been above the cut is in regards to scandal, and negative publicity. While the other top companies like Facebook, Uber, Google, and YouTube (to name a few) are frequently in the news for one thing or another, it’s usually negative press. Bezos has avoided much of the fallout these companies received during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which isn’t surprising since he has always made it a habit to avoid negative spotlight.
In fact, other than a singular incident in some major European Markets concerning loopholes in tax law, allowing Amazon to pay no taxes, there isn’t much negative information on him or his business ventures online. Amazon has already quietly ditched the practice of avoiding taxes, once again keeping themselves away from public scrutiny.
What is Bezos future? Well, if the present says anything, as of June 19th, 2017, he was back to being $5 billion from being the richest man in the world, had just acquired the Whole Foods grocery chain ( a major $13.7 billion acquisition), and was sitting down that day with President Trump, for the second time in just 6 months of his Presidency. If these are clues to this man’s destiny, I could only imagine how grand it could be. Watch Bezos, buy some stocks maybe, but whatever you do, do NOT underestimate him, because it could cost you. Big time.