Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods may raise antitrust issues, but it indisputably helped founder Jeff Bezos’ bottom line—the surge in Amazon stock increased his wealth by roughly $1.8 billion. In fact, the deal has a very good chance of making him the world’s richest man.
Bezos’ net worth after the Whole Foods buy totals roughly $84.6 billion. That’s only $5 billion less than Microsoft founder (and prolific reader) Bill Gates, who is currently the richest person in the world.
What’s more, Bezos has a very good chance of overtaking Gates and having the title all to himself. He has aggressively expanded Amazon while weathering criticism that he works his employees too hard and won’t allow them to unionize. He’s also boosted his portfolio as the owner of The Washington Post—Amazon includes a six-month digital subscription as one of its benefits for Prime members.
By contrast, Gates has spent the last 17 years giving his money away. He stepped down as Microsoft CEO in 2000 (though he still owns a two percent stake in the company). Gates and his wife Melinda are now focusing full time on philanthropy through their foundation.
Gates and Warren Buffett (who has a net worth of $76.8 billion) are also encouraging fellow billionaires to follow their lead through The Giving Pledge, which asks the world’s richest people to give away at least half of their money during their lifetimes. More than 150 people have signed the pledge—including Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg—but Bezos isn’t among them.
There are signs, however, that Bezos may be turning his interests toward philanthropy. Last week he tweeted out a “request for ideas,” asking his followers to suggest worthwhile charitable organizations.
“I’m thinking I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now—short term—at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact,” Bezos wrote.
Bezos also experimented with advocacy earlier this month when Amazon (along with many other tech companies) resisted President Donald Trump’s exit from the Paris Agreement. He’s still attempting to work with the president, however, as a member of the American Technology Council along with Tim Cook and Peter Thiel.