The Amazon CEO briefly bumped Microsoft’s founder to become the richest person in the world. But it’s only a matter of time before he takes the crown for good.
It’s Prime time for a new world’s richest person.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is poised to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the wealthiest in the globe after the online retailer’s shares surged Thursday morning, bumping Bezos’ net worth to $90.9 billion over $90.7 billion for Gates. If that holds, Bezos takes the top spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires’ Index, which Gates has claimed since May 2013.
But even if Amazon’s stock slips, or Microsoft’s rallies, it’s only a matter of time before Bezos firmly takes the crown. So here’s a look at what the two self-made tech billionaires have in common, and what sets the men apart.
Jeffrey Preston Bezos, 53, founder and CEO of Amazon.com
William Henry Gates III, 61, co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation
Bezos: Seattle, Washington
Gates: Medina, Washington
Bezos: Earned a B.A in science at Princeton University
Gates: Dropped out of Harvard University
Bezos: Left a New York hedge fund job to sell books online with “Cadabra” – later named Amazon because the first name sounded too much like “cadaver” – on July 5, 1994, based out of his Bellevue, Washington garage.
Gates: Left Harvard in 1975 to found Microsoft with childhood friend Paul Allen, creating a BASIC programming code interpreter for the Altair 8800 microcomputer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Bezos: In 1998, Amazon announced it was expanding beyond books; the first step into the everything store it has become today. In 2005 it launched Amazon Prime, the signature membership that introduce free two-day shipping for a flat annual fee. In 2007 it launched Amazon Fresh for groceries, Amazon Music for tunes, and introduced the world to the Kindle e-reader. In 2011 Amazon rebranded its streaming instant video service, making it a player against Hulu and Netflix. In 2014 it revealed the Echo with voice-activated assistant Alexa, stoking the smart home obsession. And Amazon bought Whole Foods in June for $13.7 billion.
Gates: In 1980, Microsoft signed a contract with IBM to develop an operating system for its first personal computer. By 1983, Microsoft announced its Multi-Tool Word, which later became Microsoft Word. In 1985, Microsoft revealed both Microsoft Excel and its first version of Windows. Microsoft partnered with NBC to launch the 24-hour news channel MSNBC in 1995 – the same year it also launched web browser Internet Explorer. In 2001, Microsoft launched the first Xbox video game console. Microsoft acquired Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011, and bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016.
Bezos: Married to MacKenzie Benzos with four children.
Gates: Married to Melinda Gates with three children.
Bezos: Has donated $15 million to his Princeton University alma mater with his family, and $35 million the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the largest donation in its history. Last month he crowdsourced suggestions for future philanthropy on Twitter.
Gates: Chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with his wife, which is the world’s largest private charitable foundation, which tackles global issues like hunger and extreme poverty, and health issues like malaria. It’s made $41 billion in grant payments through 2016. Also helped launch the $1 billion Breakthrough Energy investment fund to find cleaner forms of energy.
Words to live by:
Bezos: “If you never want to be criticized, for goodness’ sake don’t do anything new.”
Gates: “To win big, you sometimes have to take big risks.”
© 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved