Jeff Bezos is the richest person alive — here’s how he makes and spends his billions

Jeff Bezos

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Jeff Bezos
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REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa

  • Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is the richest person alive.
  • He’s the first person in modern history to accumulate a fortune of over $100 billion.
  • He spends his $150 billion fortune on real estate across the US, a $65 million Gulfstream Jet, and his space exploration company Blue Origin.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of ecommerce giant Amazon, is the wealthiest person alive and the first person in modern history to accumulate a fortune of over $100 billion.

Bezos has an estimated net worth of $150 billion, according to Bloomberg, largely from his holdings in Amazon.

Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced on Thursday that they had finalized their divorce, which was originally announced in January. According to a statement from MacKenzie Bezos, Jeff Bezos will retain 75% of the Amazon shares held by the couple, as well as their joint holdings in the Washington Post and space exploration venture Blue Origin after their split.

From real estate to space travel, here’s how Bezos spends his money.


Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, the source of much of his wealth, on July 5, 1994.

Source: Wikipedia


Bezos’ parents were reportedly shocked that he would give up a cushy Wall Street job in order to sell books over the internet.

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Jon Erlichman

Source: “The Everything Store” via Business Insider


Bezos’ parents eventually came around and invested about a quarter million dollars in the fledgling company, a stake that would be worth as much as $30 billion today.

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Reuters

Source: Bloomberg


Amazon made its initial public offering on May 15, 1997. Since that day, the split-adjusted stock price has increased nearly 93,000%.

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Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from Yahoo Finance

Source: Yahoo Finance


Amazon’s rise left several early internet competitors in the dust. In the company’s first post-IPO shareholder letter, Bezos mentioned strategic partnerships with several peers like America Online, Prodigy, and Yahoo that have either gone out of business entirely or been purchased by competitors since.

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Amazon has steadily grown over the last two decades, and now sells a wide variety of consumer products, electronics, and digital media.

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Amazon

Source: Amazon


Another big recent growth area is Amazon Web Services. As of February 2018, the company’s cloud services was a $17.5 billion business.

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Amazon Web Services event
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Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Amazon has also grown through various acquisitions over time. The company’s 2009 purchase of online shoe retailer Zappos for $1.2 billion stood as Amazon’s biggest acquisition for about eight years.

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Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.
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Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Source: Visual Capitalist


That record was blown out of the water with Amazon’s 2017 purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Source: Visual Capitalist


The Whole Foods acquisition has dramatically boosted Amazon’s push into the grocery world. A recent report from OneClickRetail estimates that Amazon now has an 18% share of the US online grocery market.

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Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Source: Business Insider


Amazon’s rise is the primary source of Bezos’ $150 billion fortune. Bezos remains Amazon’s largest stockholder, owning 16% of the ecommerce giant. According to MacKenzie Bezos’ statement on the couple’s divorce, Jeff Bezos will retain 75% of the couple’s Amazon stock holdings, and the voting power of MacKenzie Bezos’ shares.

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REUTERS/Abhishek N. Chinnappa

Source: Forbes


Bezos has made several investments in other companies, both on a personal level and through his venture capital firm Bezos Expeditions.

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REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

Source: Visual Capitalist


Bezos personally invested in Google in 1998, and his $1 million early investment would likely have made him a billionaire even without his extensive Amazon wealth.

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Edgar Su/Reuters

Source: “The Everything Store” via Business Insider


Bezos Expeditions has invested in several startups, including blood testing biotech firm Grail, popular software developer website Stack Overflow, and Business Insider.

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Business Insider’s newsroom.
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Daniel Goodman

Business Insider was acquired by Axel Springer in 2015. Jeff Bezos is no longer invested.

Source: Visual Capitalist


One of Bezos’ more notable purchases in recent years was his acquisition of The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013.

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REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Source: Business Insider


Since Bezos’ acquisition, the Post has greatly expanded its digital offerings, and readership has exploded.

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REUTERS/Stelios Varias

Source: Business Insider


Bezos’ wealth is so massive that, according to Business Insider calculations, spending $88,000 to him is similar to an average American spending $1.

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REUTERS/Rex Curry

Source: Business Insider


Bezos is one of the country’s biggest landowners, and he and his family own five homes across the US.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


One estate, with two homes on 5.3 acres of land, is located in Medina, WA, not far from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters.

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Stephen Brashear/Getty

Source: Business Insider


Business Insider’s Harrison Jacobs recently visited Medina to get a sense of what the haven for Seattle’s mega-wealthy was like.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Jacobs got a picture of the outside of Bezos’ estate, but tall hedges and a gate blocked any view inside.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Bezos also owns a Spanish-style mansion in Beverly Hills, California.

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Dream Homes Magazine

Source: Business Insider


He also owns a ranch in Van Horn, Texas, which serves as a base for his Blue Origin space exploration company.

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Google Earth

Source: Business Insider


Bezos purchased a townhouse in Washington, DC in 2016.

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Google Earth

Source: Business Insider


Finally, Bezos’ parents own three condos in the Century building at 25 Central Park West in Manhattan.

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David Shankbone/Wikipedia Commons

Source: Business Insider


Bezos has traditionally been somewhat frugal with his ground transportation. As recently as 2013, he was still driving a Honda Accord, according to the book “The Everything Store.”

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A Honda Accord; not necessarily Bezos’.
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Honda

Source: “The Everything Store” via Business Insider


However, Bezos also owns a $65 million Gulfstream G650ER private jet.

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A Gulfstream G650ER.
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REUTERS/Aly Song

Source: Business Insider


Bezos sometimes has a taste for exotic cuisine. The founder of ecommerce startup Woot recounted a breakfast with Bezos shortly after Amazon acquired the company at which the billionaire ordered octopus.

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Andrew Toth / Stringer / Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


The founder recounted Bezos explaining similarities between Amazon’s acquisition of Woot and his offbeat breakfast order. “You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast,” Bezos said. “When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.”

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Cegoh/Pixabay

Source: Business Insider


Bezos has not engaged in public philanthropy to the same extent as many of his hyper-billionaire peers like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have both pledged to donate the majority of their fortunes to charity.

Source: Business Insider


Bezos has, however, supported Mary’s Place, a Seattle organization that provides shelter and employment training to those who are homeless, and TheDream.US, which supports people who were brought to the US as undocumented immigrants when they were children.

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Mary’s Place shelter.
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By Ed Murray, via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Business Insider


According to CNBC, Bezos has also donated significant sums to Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington Foundation, and Princeton University.

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Princeton University, Jeff Bezos’ alma mater.
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Facebook/Princeton University

Source: CNBC


Bezos also supports some more unusual ventures, like the Long Now Foundation, which seeks to build a giant mechanical “10,000 year clock” underground in West Texas.

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The cave that for the 10,000 year clock.
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10000 year clock

Source: Business Insider


The clock is intended to be a “symbol for long-term thinking,” according to a tweet from Bezos.

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Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Bezos has been fascinated and inspired by NASA and space travel since watching the Apollo moon landings in his childhood. In 2013, Bezos funded and led an expedition to recover one of the rocket engines from the Apollo 12 mission from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Apollo 12 launches in stormy weather.
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NASA

Source: The Seattle Times


Bezos’ most ambitious venture may be Blue Origin, his space exploration company.

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Win McNamee / Getty Images

Blue Origin has had several successful test flights of its reusable New Shepard rocket, and is currently developing the larger, mostly reusable New Glenn rocket system, intended to compete with Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

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Blue Origin

Source: Business Insider


In the long term, Bezos intends for Blue Origin to support large-scale human spaceflight, with the goal of colonizing the solar system.

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Isaiah J. Downing/Reuters

Source: Business Insider


Bezos told Matthias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider’s parent company Axel Springer, that he considers Blue Origin “the most important work [he’s] doing.”

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Blue Origin

Source: Business Insider


Indeed, Bezos told Döpfner that he plans to spend his entire fortune on space exploration, saying “I am going to use my financial lottery winnings from Amazon to fund that.”

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HO/Mike Brown/Space Florida

Source: Business Insider