Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos has become the richest man in modern history. Bezos' net value is a cool $151 billion - a number not even Bill Gates cracked when he hit the $100 billion-mark briefly in 1999. That amount would be $149 billion in today's time, adjusted for inflation. The news came as Bezos and company, Amazon, were gearing up for their 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day. According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Bezos is $55 billion ahead of the second place-holder, Bill Gates, with $95.3 billion. All in all, Bezos' moolah makes him the richest person on earth, at least since 1982, when Forbes first published its inaugural wealth ranking.
Bezos' net worth increased by $52 billion over this year. To put it in perspective, that is more than the entire fortune of Alibaba co-founder, Jack Ma, who is not doing badly with $44 billion.
With $83 billion, Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway takes up the third spot. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is close in the heels at the fourth spot with net worth of $81.6 billion. Despite the backlash Facebook faced in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company's stock hit an all-time high with a spike of 2.4%.
Additionally, Warren Buffett tops another very pertinent list. He is the most generous philanthropist in the world. According to an analysis by The Chronicle of Philanthropy last September, Buffett had given away more than $46 billion since 2000, a staggering 71% of his fortune. As per reports, he had given Berkshire Hathaway stock of more than $50 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation alone.
Joining his ranks is Bill Gates, philanthropist extraordinaire, who has donated around 22% of his wealth since 2000. In fact, Buffett and Gates co-founded The Giving Pledge, a campaign that encourages wealthy Americans to give away at least 50% of their wealth.
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan appear to be going the Buffett-Gates route as well. They have given away around $10 billion in charity as of now. Some of the fortune they have given away went to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, (CZI), which is a limited liability company, not a foundation. The idea behind this structure reportedly is to allow the couple to use their money either for charitable donations or to fund for-profit organizations and startups that fulfil a charitable goal. For instance, in 2016, CZI led the $24 million series B funding for Andela, a startup that trains software developers in Africa with an aim to bridge the divide between the US and African tech sectors.
In all this, the wealthiest man in modern history, Jeff Bezos' stark lack of participation is grabbing the eyeballs. Last year, Bezos had written on Twitter, "I'm thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time - working on the long term. For philanthropy, I find I'm drawn to the other end of the spectrum: the right now," after calling for a "request for ideas" on how to approach philanthropy.
Something similar is reiterated by Ed Lazowska, Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. "It's a full-time job. You have to imagine he will be every bit as philanthropic as Gates. Nobody has any right to make demands, and they have to give the guy time," he said as mentioned in a Bloomberg report.
While his wealth continues to mount, his philanthropic activities still remain a mystery. As of September last year, Bezos was the last among the top 10 billionaires in terms of charity, having given only 0.1% of his wealth. He is still one of America's richest to not have signed The Giving Pledge.As of now, Jeff Bezos has not publicly said what he plans to do with his wealth.