Coronavirus: Amazon boss Jeff Bezos adds $24bn to fortune

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The founder and boss of Amazon has seen his wealth swell by $24bn (£19bn) after soaring demand for online shopping sent the firm’s share price to a new high.

Jeff Bezos now has a fortune of $138bn, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, cementing his position as the world’s richest man.

Amazon has benefited from surging internet shopping by people forced to stay home during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The firm has been recruiting thousands of workers to cope with demand.

However, Amazon has also been criticised by employees in the US over workplace protection against the coronavirus.

Mr Bezos owns an 11% stake in Amazon and on Tuesday, the firm’s shares rose by 5.3%.

The family behind retail giant Wal-Mart, which owns Asda in the UK, have also gained during the lockdown.

The Waltons saw their net worth rise 5% this year to $169bn, making them the world’s richest family, according to Bloomberg.

With millions now working from home, online meeting site Zoom has seen founder Eric Yuan’s fortune more than double to $7.4bn.

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index said the world’s 500 richest people lost $553bn so far this year.

Investors in the global oil and gas industries have seen sharp drops in net worth as crude prices plunged on reduced global demand and a row – now resolved – about oil production between Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Rise to fame

Mr Bezos started Amazon in 1995 with about $100,000 in personal and family money. He quit a hedge fund job at the age of 30 after coming across a statistic about the rapid growth of the internet.

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He was joined by his wife, MacKenzie, whom he met while they were both working at the New York hedge fund, DE Shaw. They have four children.

The couple were divorced in 2019 in a split widely covered by the business media. MacKenzie’s $38bn settlement included a 4% stake in Amazon.

Within a month of the launch, he had already shipped orders to all 50 states and 45 countries, according to a 2013 biography by Brad Stone entitled The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon.

In Amazon’s first five years, customer accounts jumped from 180,000 to 17 million. Sales skyrocketed from $511,000 to more than $1.6bn.

Big-name investors flocked to the company amid the first wave of dotcom enthusiasm.

It went public in 1997, raising $54m and turning Mr Bezos, who once helped to box up the book orders, into one of the world’s richest men before the age of 35.

In 1999, Time Magazine named him one of its youngest People of the Year to date, dubbing him the “king of cybercommerce”.

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