Online retailer Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeffrey Preston Bezos has become the richest man in modern history – amassing a wealth of a whopping $151 billion. He owns 16% stake in the e-commerce giant, whose stock market value soared to $900 billion, last week. We take a look at the swanky life of the 54-year old billionaire – who is rich enough to buy out the stock markets of many countries.
Humble Beginning to E-commerce Behemoth
Formerly called – Cadabra – Bezos launched Amazon in 1994, from the garage of his Washington DC home, with his wife. He thought of the idea while working at a Wall Street hedge fund company, and managed to raise $300,000 with a business plan of exclusively selling books online. Interestingly, back in the day, the Amazon CEO would drive to the post office to deliver packages – all by himself!
As the business grew, Amazon started selling everything from books to screwdrivers and transformed the way people shop all over the world. Today, it is an enormous online retailer that offers television shows and movies for a price through Amazon Prime, boasts cloud computing platforms and other disrupting technologies like Fire stick and voice activated assistant – Echo. Bezos also bankrolls big names. Through ‘Bezos Expeditions’, the billionaire has invested in Twitter, Uber, Google, and Airbnb apart from many other companies. Recently, he bought The Washington Post for a reported $250 million.
Living Life To The Hilt
The Princeton alumni lives in a $23 million mansion in Washington DC, sharing the neighbourhood with Microsoft founder Bill Gates. He also has a $24 million home at Beverly Hills, California and a ranch in Texas. In fact, in terms of acreage, he is among the largest landowners in America, having nearly 300,000 acres under his name, including an erstwhile textile museum and apartments in New York. Bezos also owns cool toys!
Three years ago, the former Wall Street banker bought a private jet for $62 million, which he uses to ferry his wife, novelist Mackenzie Bezos, and their four children for holiday. He has a personal submarine and often sports a $7,000 Ulysse Nardin Dual timepiece. Yet, when it comes to his car, he is quite grounded. Bezos drives a Honda Accord to work!
‘Bot’ Loving Billionaire
His love for robots is unabashed and out there. Amazon hosts the annual MARS conference where futuristic robotics are put on display. Last year, he unveiled a 13 foot, 1.5 ton-giant mechanical suited bot. This year, the first shot from the event was a bit more subdued, with Bezos taking his, “new dog,” an electric iteration of American robotics firm, Boston Dynamics – the quadruped SpotMini for a stroll. He walked his bot dog and played bottle-toss with its mechanical arm. Amazon also has a robotics wing, which focuses on mechanising its warehouses worldwide. The company even has ambitious plans to deliver its products via a drone and is allegedly working on a home bot under the codename, ‘Vesta’.
A Space Odyssey
Even though he has created an e-commerce universe on Earth to rake in billions. Bezos has his sights set on exploring new frontiers beyond our planet. In 2000, he founded, ‘Blue Origin’ to work on a spaceflight programme that will offer customers 11-minute space rides. The company is also working on a reusable rocket that can circle 160 km above the Earth, allow passengers to experience weightlessness and the curvature of the planet. Recently, it completed its ninth test flight from its facility in Texas.
Life Beyond Work
Unlike other billionaires, Elon Musk and Bill Gates, Bezos doesn’t believe in overworking. While these entrepreneurs operate on a four-hour shut eye, Bezos likes to sleep-in for at least eight hours. He has often spoken about the importance of a good sleep and is known to bring a sleeping bag to office during long hours. For the same reason, he doesn’t endorse stressful early morning meetings.
When it comes to his family, he is a no compromise man, and cherishes his time with them. From having breakfast at home to washing dishes – he balances his work and home life, with equal enthusiasm. In his spare time, Bezos enjoys a unique hobby. He takes his kids in a submarine to comb the Atlantic for NASA space shuttle parts. Apparently, he has found quite a few of them during his hunt!
The Quiet Philanthropist
Although he is not a big name in philanthropy, Bezos has made generous donations to health and science researches, and supported immigrants for higher studies. In 2015, he and his wife reportedly donated $15 million to their alma mater, Princeton University, to fund the ‘Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics’ that researches techniques to study the brain. The Bezos Family Foundation run by his parents, provides scholarship to underprivileged school students around the world and develops training modules for building life skills.
Although Jeff Bezos is the only billionaire in America who hasn’t signed the 'giving pledge' – an oath that the super-rich have taken to donate half their wealth – he does have plans to step up his charity, in the times to come.
Last year, Bezos tweeted to seek immediate and impactful philanthropic ideas from the public. He recently revealed in yet another tweet that he would soon announce areas of extending his charitable initiatives. With so much fortune to spend, here’s hoping, the world's richest man will continue to share his wealth, in a good way!