Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the world, according to Forbes which has his net worth listed as $203.7 billion. He is set to be aboard Blue Origin’s first human-occupied flight to space on July 20.
Ahead of the launch, Bezos spoke with “CBS This Morning” host, Gayle King. He told her, “I’m excited. People keep asking if I’m nervous. I’m not really nervous. I’m excited. I’m curious. I want to know what we’re going to learn.”
The 57-year-old will not be the first billionaire in space. Richard Branson beat him by nine days, launching on a sub-orbital flight with his company Virgin Galactic.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Bezos Founded Amazon
Bezos amassed his fortune as the founder of Amazon. Founded in Seattle, Washington in 1994, the company was originally conceived of as an online book retailer. According to History.com, Amazon went live on July 16, 1995.
Shortly after Amazon went public in 1997, Bezos earned his billionaire status and the company expanded beyond literature. Today, the company sells goods varying from furniture, to clothing and even groceries.
The e-commerce giant has since expanded its reach into technology and streaming. The Wall Street Journal reported its “cloud computing business Amazon Web Services” accounts for a large portion of its revenue. The publication added that Amazon also launched its smart speaker, Echo, in 2014.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon announced it had more than 100 million Prime subscribers in the United States as of 2020. The subscription was started in 2005, offering free, two-day shipping. It has since grown to include access to streaming movies and music, among other benefits.
Bezos stepped down as the CEO on July 5, handing over the reins to former Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy. Moving forward, the Wall Street Journal reported that he will serve as an executive chairman to focus “on innovation.”
2. Bezos Owns The Washington Post, Whole Foods and Blue Origin
Bezos has continued to diversify his reach, including with the company behind today’s launch. The Wall Street Journal reported Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000. According to the outlet, he sees it as “his true legacy” and funds it “by selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year.”
In 2013, The Washington Post announced it had been sold to Bezos for $250 million, ending the 80-year tenure of the Graham family. The paper and other assets were transferred to his private investment company, Nash Holdings, reported the outlet.
The Wall Street Journal also reported Amazon purchased Whole Foods Markets in 2017, giving the retailer “roughly 470 brick-and-mortar locations and an opportunity to experiment in the grocery business.” The acquisition cost the company $13.7 billion as reported by Forbes.
3. Bezos Made History With $211 Billion Net Worth
Bezos is the richest man in the world, a title he earned when his wealth first surpassed that of Bill Gates in 2017, as reported by Forbes. The Microsoft founder currently ranks fourth in the world, behind Bezos by $75 billion.
4. Bezos Finalized His Divorce From Ex-Wife MacKenzie Scott in 2019
Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott served as an accountant when Amazon was founded, reported the Wall Street Journal. However, the former couple announced their intention to divorce in January 2019 amid National Enquirer’s claims he was having an affair.
They released a joint statement, reading in part, “We’ve had such a great life together as a married couple, and we also see wonderful futures ahead, as parents, friends, partners in ventures and projects, and as individuals pursuing ventures and adventures.”
When Bezos and Scott finalized their divorce later that year, she received $38.3 billion of Amazon stock. In a Twitter statement, she announced all of her interests in The Washington Post and Blue Origin would go to her husband, as well as 75% of their shared Amazon stock. Bezos was also granted voting power over her shares.
Reuters reported the 51-year-old has pledged to give away half of her fortune to charity, participating in the “Giving Pledge” founded by Warren Buffett and Gates.
5. Bezos Launched the Bezos Earth Fund
In February 2020, Bezos announced on Instagram that he was pledging $10 billion to fight climate change through the Bezos Earth Fund.
“Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet,” he captioned a photograph of the Earth. “I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals. ”
On Instagram, he announced the first 16 recipients of grants, which include The Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund, ClimateWorks Foundation, Environmental Defense Fund, World Resources Institute and World Wildlife Fund.