There is a new name at the top of the world wealth league. The founder of Amazon has overtaken Microsoft’s Bill Gates to claim the title of world’s richest person.
Jeff Bezos leapfrogged Gates, who has been the richest man on the planet since 2013, after a rise in the share price of Amazon ahead of its latest results due later on Thursday.
According to a real-time billionaires index compiled by Forbes, the rise pushed the value of Bezos’s fortune to $91bn (£69bn) – compared with Gates’ wealth of $90bn. Their riches are calculated on the share prices of their respective companies and at the current values, Bezos’s stake is twice as big as the carmarker Ford.
Bezos – born in 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico – keeps a relatively low profile, but has used some of the wealth he has amassed to buy the Washington Post and invest in space travel through Blue Origin, a company he founded in 2000.
He founded Amazon in 1994 when he sold books from his garage in Seattle before expanding into a huge range of other products and capturing the global rush to shop online. Amazon now accounts for 43% of everything sold online in the US and 64 million people have signed up for its Prime service, which gives access to free deliveries and video streaming.
Amazon shares have soared this year, making the company worth more than $500bn and boosting Bezos’s wealth as he owns 17% of the company. He also has a number of other investments, including in Google, Uber, Twitter and Airbnb, worth more than $5bn.
At the start of 2017, Bezos was ranked fourth-richest in the world, behind Gates, the investor Warren Buffett and Amancio Ortega, who founded Inditex, the company behind retailer Zara.