Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of e-commerce giant Amazon, is now the richest person on Earth, with a net worth of around $105 billion. This is on the back of a sharp increase in his fortunes throughout the first week or so of 2018, to the tune of about $6 billion. Amazon shares rose about 6.6% because of the shopping service managing to net about 89% of the holiday spending among top retailers who see spikes in spending during the season. It should be noted that Bezos' high net worth is not solely due to his position with Amazon; he also controls the Washington Post and Blue Origin, a somewhat secretive space startup.
Bezos' growing fortunes have been steadily rising since Amazon's founding, with sharp surges in recent years. Bloomberg took some time to compare Bezos' rise and current fortune to that of Microsoft founder and former CEO Bill Gates. Interestingly, Bloomberg projects that Gates would be worth around $150 billion right now if he had kept some assets that he liquidated. This giving was largely focused on transferring assets into the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, furthering its charitable mission. Over the years, Gates' publicly disclosed giving has included about $2.9 billion in cash and miscellaneous assets, along with around 700 million shares of Microsoft. As of this writing, those shares are worth $88.08 each, which gives the shares that Gates gave away a cumulative current value somewhere around $61 billion.
Bezos' empire took root in 1994. Back then, Amazon only sold books. It stayed this way until 1998, when Amazon began its expansion to eventually become the just-about-everything online retailer that it is today. Bill Gates' personal fortunes peaked in 1999, just before an antitrust case shook up Microsoft. Amazon itself is on the brink of a similar crisis, and just like Microsoft, it's due almost entirely to its sheer size and the partnerships it has secured over the years. While Microsoft had partnered up with tons of different PC makers and all but ensured that the burgeoning consumer GNU/Linux movement would stay relegated to the enthusiast market, Amazon's numerous partnerships with small resellers, product makers, and wholesalers has earned it a position near the top of the retail heap.