For around six hours today, Jeff Bezos was the richest person on the planet. Before the markets opened, he started the day off with a net worth of around $89 billion. As shares of Amazon soared, based on high expectations for their earnings report, his paper fortune peaked at $90.6 billion. At that level, Bezos was $600 richer than fellow Seattle tech billionaire Bill Gates ,and therefore Bezos was the richest person on the planet. Gates started and ended the day with a $90 billion net worth. It was the first time Gates had been unseated as the richest person in the world in seven years. Unfortunately for Jeff, his reign turned out to be significantly shorter than seven years. In fact, Bezos likely just set the record for the shortest stint as richest person on the planet. It's a crown he held for just six hours.
Bezos is back down to being the second-richest person on the planet (boo hoo) after Amazon's quarterly earnings report were a bit of a whiff. At one point mid-day shares of Amazon were up 3%, but the negative earnings news actually caused the stock to end down more than 4.5% (mostly in after hours trading).
So Bill Gates is back to being the richest person on the planet, but don't think for a minute that this race is over. Jeff has been poking at Bill and the other top slots for months. In the last two years alone, Jeff's net worth has increased a mind-boggling $45 billion. His net worth has increased by $70 billion in the last five years. That increase is potentially the largest and fastest acceleration of personal wealth in human history.
Bezos is the sixth person in the last 30 years to officially hold the top spot and it's very likely he and Gates will trade positions back and forth for the next few weeks and months. The other lucky tycoons who have held the top slot include arms dealer Adnan Kashoggi, the Sultan of Brunei, Warren Buffet, Carlos Slim.
Bill's all-time peak net worth was $90 billion in 2001 right at the very top of the dotcom bubble. Up until today, that's the largest amount of money any modern billionaire has ever controlled at one time. After adjusting for inflation, Bill's $90 billion in 2001 would be the same as around $130 billion today, so Jeff has a bit of a ways to go before he can say he has the most money of all time (without adjusting for inflation). Furthermore, Gates has given away approximately $30 billion during his lifetime. So Jeff really has some work to do. But heck, if anyone can do it, Jeff Bezos is probably the man.