Business

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos briefly passes Bill Gates as richest man in the world

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos briefly became the world's richest man Thursday in Forbes magazine's tracking of wealth, as stock in his e-commerce company hit an all-time high.
Jeff Bezos briefly became the richest man on Earth after a temporary surge in Amazon's stock price on Thursday. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos briefly became the world's richest man Thursday in Forbes magazine's tracking of wealth, as stock in his e-commerce company hit an all-time high.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates reclaimed the lead by afternoon, as Amazon's stock fell nearly 1 per cent for the day to $1,046 US.

Amazon shares have been trading at a record high. They hit $1,083.31 US at about noon Thursday. According to securities filings, Bezos owns about 80 million shares, or 17 per cent; those shares were valued at more than $87 billion US at the peak. Bezos also owns The Washington Post through a holding company.

Forbes said Bezos' net worth was about $90.6 billion US when the market opened Thursday. Gates had $90.1 billion US. Forbes said Gates would have been the undisputed leader had he not given billions of dollars away to various philanthropic causes. Bezos issued a request for philanthropic ideas in a tweet in June, just before Amazon announced a $13.7 billion US deal for organic grocer Whole Foods.

The changes in Bezos' fortune coincided with Amazon's report of a 77 per cent decline in quarterly profit on heavy spending. Shares fell in after-markets trading as the company missed Wall Street's expectations on profit.

now