Bill Gates, the richest person in the world, may soon lose the top spot in the list of billionaires. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, is merely $5 billion away from becoming the richest person. And there are signs that as he increases his wealth, Bezos may be ready to step up his philanthropic efforts. His lack of personal giving and Amazon's low profile in the philanthropic world have been criticized over the years.
After Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods, the surge in Amazon stock added $1.8 billion to his net worth, taking his total net worth to about $84.6 billion, CNN reported. The difference is expected to decrease further as Gates, who stepped away from day-to-day control of Microsoft in 2000 but still owns 2 percent of the company, focuses increasingly on the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gates, 61, has pledged to give away at least half of his money during his lifetime. More than 150 people have also signed the pledge — but the list does not include Bezos. (The late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who did not sign the pledge, was also widely criticized for his apparent lack of interest in charitable giving.) But a day before Bezos surprised analysts by announcing Amazon would buy Whole Foods, the 51 year old posted on Twitter, asking his followers to give philanthropy ideas.
"I’m thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time — working on the long term," Bezos wrote. He also said he wanted to find a way to help people "at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact."
His followers have offered ideas such as helping LGBT youth, easing student loan debt, and helping with the cost of daycare.
Bezos owns nearly 17 percent of Amazon.com. At a shareholders meeting in 2016, he claimed Amazon was the fastest company ever to reach $100 billion in annual sales, reports said.
According to the latest Forbes list of billionaires, Gates occupies the top spot with a net worth of $89.3 billon followed by Bezos with a net worth of $84.1 billion.
Amancio Ortega , the founder and former chairman of Inditex fashion group, best known for its chain of Zara, occupied the third spot with a net worth of $83.7 billion.
Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim Helu occupy the fourth and the fifth position. Founder and CEO of facebook Mark Zuckerberg was in sixth position. Amazon on Friday announced it would buy the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion. The grocery chain has more than 460 stores in the United States, Britain and Canada with the total sale of $16 billion in the last fiscal year, reports said.
The company was founded in 1978 in Austin, Texas. Whole Foods is best known for its organic foods with its focus on healthy eating and fresh, local produce and meats.
Amazon has been a retail giant that's pioneered online services such as 1-Click shopping, personalized recommendations, Prime, Fulfillment by Amazon, AWS, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kindle, Fire tablets, Fire TV, Amazon Echo and Alexa.