Amazon's Jeff Bezos briefly overtakes Bill Gates to become world's richest man

Jeff Bezos

Gates has topped the Forbes list of wealthiest people in the world for 18 of the past 23 years. If you want to change the laws then you can.

The vast majority of the Bezos fortune is tied up in Amazon stock, of which the CEO owns nearly 17%.

Taxes are one thing, antitrust concerns are another.

Jeff Bezos is now the world's richest person.

Bezos' increase in wealth could be due in part to Amazon's stock surging over the last year. Perhaps the lack of a central human figure to attack was the reason why the "Occupy Wall Street" movement fizzled out. "... I worked with him and many others represented in the converted garage, the basement warehouse closet, the barbecue-scented offices, the Christmas-rush distribution centers, and the door-desk filled conference rooms in the early years of Amazon's history". Gates had $90.1 billion.

As of Thursday, Gates fell to the No. 2 spot with other billionaires close behind, including Spanish businessman Amancio Ortega ($82.7 billion), Warren Buffet ($74.5 billion) and Mark Zuckerberg ($70.5 billion), according to Bloomberg. It's likely that Jeff and Bill are going to be punching back and forth a bunch over the coming months. But it may not be enough.

Amazon's surprise announcement in June that it would buy Whole Foods, the purveyor of organics and healthy fare, for $13.7 billion is already rattling the grocery sector, with competitors' share prices dropping on the news. A philanthropist, Gates has given US$31.1 billion to charitable causes through 2016 and has a net worth of US$90.1 billion, Forbes said. He has been a billionaire for 20 years. Earlier this morning Bezos officially became the richest person on the planet.

He also bought an old textile factory in Washington DC which will be converted into a family home. Bezos isn't just an investor like Buffett or semi-retired like Gates, he's still actively running Amazon and constantly expanding its reach. Don't underestimate the value of that! In 2011, they donated $15 million to Princeton University to create the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics. The e-commerce juggernaut's market value surpassed $500 billion this week for the first time ever. That's a stretch for sure.

Perhaps most importantly, Amazon signaled that it might return to losing money in the next quarter.

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