Things are going well for Jeff Bezos. Very well. Shares of Amazon, the e-commerce and cloud computing behemoth he founded 26 years ago, hit all-time highs on Wednesday afternoon, pushing the company’s market capitalization to a high of $1.54 trillion. That makes Bezos, who owns 11.1% of the company, worth a record-breaking $182.6 billion as of market close on Wednesday — the highest net worth Forbes has recorded in nearly four decades of tracking billionaires.
Amazon stock fell 15% in the first two and a half weeks of March, as the coronavirus began to spread in the U.S. and markets plummeted. Since then, shares have rallied, rocketing up more than 80% since a March 12 low point as consumers flock to the e-commerce behemoth to purchase goods online rather than in physical stores.
Bezos first took the title of world’s richest person in July 2017, though that only lasted for a few hours as Amazon reported a big miss on second quarter earnings that same day. In October 2017, Bezos rose to the top again after a strong third-quarter earnings report — and stayed there. He then became the first centibillionaire to appear on The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in October 2018, with a net worth of $160 billion. Before that, Microsoft cofounder-turned-philanthropist Bill Gates had long held the number one spot. Now, Bezos is $70.2 billion richer than Gates, who is the second richest person in the world, worth $110.4 billion.
Bezos transferred a quarter of his Amazon stake to his ex-wife, MacKenzie Bezos, as part of their divorce settlement, which was finalized in the summer of 2019. MacKenzie Bezos is now worth $59.8 billion, making her the second wealthiest woman on the planet. Had Jeff Bezos held onto those shares, his net worth would be around $240 billion today.
Since April, Amazon and Bezos have received backlash for providing inadequate safety and working conditions amid the pandemic. Warehouse employees began to publicly protest the lack of safety protocols, with a few claiming that workers were not notified when colleagues had been diagnosed with Covid-19. Amazon tech employees then staged a virtual protest in April, in solidarity with their warehouse-based colleagues.
Despite the employee complaints, business is booming at Amazon and Bezos keeps getting richer by the day.