Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been flying up the list of the world’s richest people in recent years. In the Forbes 2017 Billionaires List he took the number three spot, up from five the year before, with a net worth of $72.8 billion.
Bloomberg’s own list, published in June, now shows Bezos at number two behind Microsoft’s Bill Gates, with only (“only” in relative terms) $5 billion separating the two tech billionaires. Bezos replaced Warren Buffet at number two.
In fact, the $1.8 billion increase must be far from Bezo’s only gains, as the more recent list puts him on $84.6 billion. A further fiver percent increase, or so, would put Bezos level with Gates.
Bezos is 53 years old compared to Bill Gates’ 61, so he has a few years on the Microsoft legend to catch up.
Perhaps more notable than age is how aggressive Jeff Bezos is in wishing to expand the Amazon brand, while Gates has famously been concentrating solely on philanthropy in recent years. It was back in 2000 that he ceased to be Microsoft CEO, although he still owns 2 percent of the company.
Gates and investor Warren Buffett created the Giving Pledge in 2010, which asks billionaires to commit to donating at least 50 percent of their wealth over the course of their lives.
Of the 150 that signed the pledge, Bezos was not among the names.
CNN points out that the tagline for Bezos’s private space company, Blue Origin, is Gradatim Ferociter, meaning “step by step, ferociously.” This clearly says something about his attitude to success.
Jeff Bezos asked Twitter for philanthropy ideas
However, all of his ambition and wealth does not mean Bezos has no interest in philanthropy.
In fact he has very recently, and slightly strangely, asked Twitter followers for ideas on how best to put his money to charitable use.
The tweet from June 16th has already had thousands of retweets and, time-consumingly for Jeff Bezos, tens of thousands of replies.
As well as being potentially time consuming (if he does read even a fraction of the replies), the move has not attracted purely positivity.
A cynic may suggest that the tweet was done primarily to show he was thinking about philanthropy, especially as it followed criticism from the New York Times that Bezos isn’t doing enough in that area.
“Don’t do it on Twitter”
Philanthropy advisor Jake Hayman wrote for Forbes that he is not too keen on Bezos’s approach to philanthropy.
“Don’t ask Twitter,” Hayman wrote. “It is mainly an American platform (so lack of insight from around the world), it is a disproportionately male and disproportionately from more privileged user groups.”
Instead, the advisor suggested, Bezos should: “Listen to the communities you wish to serve and you’ll make good decisions.”