Jeff Bezos, the billionaire CEO of Amazon and richest person in the world, now has a fortune that exceeds $200 billion, Forbes and Bloomberg reported. Forbes estimated that Bezos was worth $204.6 billion when the markets closed Wednesday, while Bloomberg pegged his wealth at $202 billion.
It’s a status that hasn’t been reached before, even when adjusted for inflation.
Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, the second-richest person in the world with a net worth of $116.1 billion, now trails Bezos by a distant $88.5 billion. Gates’ $100 billion fortune at the height of the dot-com boom in 1999 would still be worth $158 billion in today’s dollars — just three-quarters of what Bezos currently worth — Forbes reported.
Bezos’ fortune is also the equivalent of 1% of US gross domestic product, which sat at $21.6 trillion in the first quarter of 2020 but dropped to $19.4 trillion last quarter, according to the Department of Commerce.
Amazon has experienced a surge in online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as people turn to online shopping while inside their homes, sending the company’s market capitalization through the roof. It’s now valued at $1.7 trillion.
Last quarter, Amazon blew past Wall Street’s expectations, reporting $5.2 billion in net profit, even after warning investors it would spend all of the $4 billion it had expected to make for the quarter on COVID-related initiatives.
As a result, Bezos has seen his net worth nearly double during the pandemic: jumping by $97 billion from pandemic lows in early March, according to Bloomberg.
Most of Bezos’ wealth comes from his stock in Amazon, in which he has an 11% stake, according to 2020 SEC filings cited by Bloomberg. He also owns The Washington Post and the space exploration company Blue Origin, which competes with the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Bezos, Musk, Gates, and a handful of America’s ultra-wealthy have seen extraordinary gains during the pandemic, even with roughly 10% of Americans still out of work.
A report last week from the Institute for Policy Studies found that Bezos has been the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic in terms of total net worth increase since mid-March, while Musk saw the highest percentage gains with a 228% boost, taking his personal fortune from $24.6 billion pre-pandemic to $73.1 billion as of Aug. 13.
The report, which analyzed how the dozen richest Americans’ fortunes have grown in the past few months, included data as of Aug. 13, meaning it hadn’t even accounted for more recent gains. Musk’s wealth, for example, climbed another $8 billion in one day alone shortly after IPS published its report as Tesla’s stock soared to an all-time high, and surpassed $100 billion on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.
By comparison, US household wealth during the first quarter plummeted by 5.6%, the largest drop since the 1950s, and more than half of US households have lost income this year.
Wealth and income inequality in the US had already hit record highs before the pandemic. But in a sign that economic fallout from the coronavirus has further concentrated wealth at the top, data from the US Federal Reserve shows that the top 1% of Americans actually saw their share of overall wealth in the US decrease from 29.3% to 27.8% during the first quarter of 2020, even as those at the very top saw massive gains.
In particular, those gains have gone to executives, founders, and early investors of the largest US tech companies, which surged past Wall Street expectations last quarter. Of the 12 wealthiest Americans included in IPS’s analysis, eight hailed from the tech industry.