Goodbye Jeff Bezos: What will the future trillionaire do after Amazon?
Jeff Bezos is set to retire today, twenty-seven years after launching Amazon. Though he has long seemed the most likely candidate to become the world’s first trillionaire it seems unlikely that he will hit that projection. Last year, a company called Comparisun declared that Bezos would be a trillionaire by 2026.
However, their model made an assumption that Bezos’s future growth would look exactly like the past ten years. This assumption was made before the coronavirus pandemic and before the retirement of the would-be trillionaire. For the time being, he’ll have to settle for merely being one of the richest men on Earth.
Bezos’s reputation at Amazon is one of a brilliant leader & manager with a hands-on approach. Outside of the company, many believe he’s a symbol of everything wrong with our economy. Amazon profited greatly during the pandemic while many lost their livelihoods. Some regulators have suggested that Amazon may have grown too big.
Amazon also profits off of a marginalized workforce. Amazon warehouses demand long hours of sometimes difficult physical activity. Some workers claimed that they would regularly walk 30 to 60 miles a day during shifts. The company refuses to pay a living wage to its employees. Attempts to unionize have failed as many workers fear losing their jobs due to a lack of job security.
Bezos may not become the world’s first trillionaire, but that doesn’t mean he is going broke any time soon. His net worth is said to be around $200 billion. That is over 700,000 times the median net worth of an American at the typical retirement age of sixty-five.
One way Bezos has maintained his wealth is by tax avoidance. In 2007, his net worth was nearly $8.7 billion and he paid no federal income tax. Internal Revenue Service data suggested that Bezos pulled off this scam again in 2011. It’s believed that Bezos is able to pay income taxes on a small portion of his wealth.
Leaving the CEO position doesn’t mean Jeff Bezos won’t remain a powerful figure at Amazon. After all, Bezos is the company’s largest shareholder. He owns 51.2 million shares which equate to nearly 10% of all Amazon stock. He still holds a commanding interest in the company even after handing over nearly a quarter of his company stock to his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott in their divorce.
In addition, Bezos will become the executive chairman of Amazon. In this position, he will provide leadership to the board of directors. Due to his experience leading the company he is likely to be supported widely by investors and new CEO Andy Jassy. Whereas his salary may drop a little bit, he’s likely to make up that figure with significant bonuses & long-term incentives.
In 2000, Jeff Bezos launched Blue Origin. The startup was focused on human spaceflight & exploration. After years of rocket tests, the company is set to conduct its first launch with passengers. In June, Bezos announced that he would be one of the passengers on Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch vehicle.
Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post in 2013. Under his ownership, the paper shifted to a more digitally focused format. In recent years, the Post has launched a personal finance section, blogs, and podcasts. Many have suggested that the paper may have a conflict of interest in covering Bezos and his many ventures. The Post’s editorial board has dismissed these allegations, calling Bezos a “hands-off” owner.
Bezos also engages in philanthropic activities through his venture capital organization, Bezos Expeditions. This company has invested in many healthcare & research companies such as Unity Biotechnology, GRAIL, and Zocdoc. Through this organization, Bezos has also made donations to museums & colleges for science-related projects.
Leaving the company allows Bezos to attempt to recover his public image. Many view Bezos as a ruthless capitalist who sought to expand his company with little regard for humanity. Nearly 150k have signed a petition urging that Bezos should not be allowed to return to Earth after his upcoming spaceflight.
Bill Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 as the company was facing an antitrust lawsuit. Though he was no longer CEO, he still maintained a position as an advisor with the company. Since then Gates’s public image is one of a global philanthropist rather than a capitalist who promoted a monopoly. Per reports, Bezos is effectively trying to reform his image in the same way.
Do you think Bezos will be the world’s first trillionaire? Do you think his retirement is a ploy to get less negative attention? Sound off in the comments below!