Jeff Bezos just pledged to spend $10 billion to fight climate change. Here's how the richest person in the world makes and spends his billions.
Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest person alive, has pledged to spend $10 billion to fight climate change. Bezos became nearly $2 billion richer after selling some of his Amazon stock earlier this month. As Amazon's founder and CEO, Bezos was the first person in modern history to accumulate a fortune of over $100 billion — and he currently has a net worth of $130 billion, Bloomberg estimates. He spends his fortune on real estate across the US, a $65 million Gulfstream Jet, and his space exploration company, Blue Origin. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
The richest man in human history has pledged to spend $10 billion fighting climate change. Jeff Bezos took to Instagram on Monday to announce that beginning this summer, the money will be divided up between scientific research, activists, and nonprofit organizations through the new Bezos Earth Fund. "Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet," the Amazon CEO captioned a photo of the plant on Instagram. "I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share." Bezos has previously been criticized for not giving back as much of his massive fortune as his fellow billionaires, but this gift is believed to be the second-largest charitable donation of the century, behind Warren Buffett's decision to leave $43 billion of his fortune to the Gates Foundation. The Amazon CEO is worth $130 billion, Bloomberg estimates. From real estate to space travel, here's how Bezos spends his money.SEE ALSO: Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez are house hunting in LA — and they've been touring some of the priciest mega-mansions in the state, according to reports DON'T MISS: Jeff Bezos' space colonization plan was partially inspired by a 1976 book he read in high school that proposed connecting the Earth and the moon via a series of enormous, cylindrical tubes Jeff Bezos founded Amazon, the source of much of his wealth, on July 5, 1994.
Source: Bloomberg Bezos' parents were reportedly shocked that he would give up a cushy Wall Street job in order to sell books over the internet.
Source: "The Everything Store" via Business Insider Bezos' parents eventually came around and invested about a quarter million dollars in the fledgling company, a stake that would be worth as much as $30 billion today.
Source: Bloomberg Bezos also received a lot of support from his then-wife MacKenzie, who negotiated Amazon's first freight contract and did the company's accounting. According to the terms of their 2019 divorce settlement, MacKenzie will hold a 4% stake in the company and a net worth of around $40 billion.
Source: Bloomberg Amazon made its initial public offering on May 15, 1997. Since that day, the split-adjusted stock price has increased nearly 90,000%.
Source: Yahoo Finance Amazon's rise left several early internet competitors in the dust. In the company's first post-IPO shareholder letter, Bezos mentioned strategic partnerships with several peers like America Online, Prodigy, and Yahoo that have either gone out of business entirely or been purchased by competitors in the years since.
Source: Business Insider Amazon has steadily grown over the last two decades, and now sells a wide variety of consumer products, electronics, and digital media.
Source: Amazon Another big recent growth area is Amazon Web Services. As of February 2018, the company's cloud services was a $17.5 billion business.
Source: Business Insider Amazon has also grown through various acquisitions over time. The company's 2009 purchase of online shoe retailer Zappos for $1.2 billion stood as Amazon's biggest acquisition for about eight years.
Source: Visual Capitalist That record was blown out of the water with Amazon's 2017 purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion.
Source: Visual Capitalist The Whole Foods acquisition has dramatically boosted Amazon's push into the grocery world. A 2019 study from OneClickRetail estimates that Amazon had an 18% share of the US online grocery market.
Source: Business Insider Amazon's rise is the primary source of Bezos' $130 billion fortune. Bezos remains Amazon's largest stockholder, owning 16% of the e-commerce giant. According to MacKenzie Bezos' statement on the couple's divorce, Jeff Bezos will retain 75% of the couple's Amazon stock holdings and the voting power of MacKenzie Bezos' shares.
Source: Forbes Bezos has made several investments in other companies, both on a personal level and through his venture capital firm Bezos Expeditions.
Source: Visual Capitalist Bezos personally invested in Google in 1998, and his $1 million early investment would likely have made him a billionaire even without his extensive Amazon wealth.
Source: "The Everything Store" via Business Insider Bezos Expeditions has invested in several startups, including blood testing biotech firm Grail, popular software developer website Stack Overflow, and Business Insider.
Business Insider was acquired by Axel Springer in 2015. Jeff Bezos is no longer invested. Source: Visual Capitalist One of Bezos' more notable purchases in recent years was his acquisition of The Washington Post for $250 million in 2013.
Source: Business Insider Since Bezos' acquisition, the Post has greatly expanded its digital offerings, and readership has exploded.
Source: Business Insider Bezos' wealth is so massive that, according to Business Insider calculations, spending $88,000 to him is similar to an average American spending $1.
Source: Business Insider Bezos is one of the country's biggest landowners, and he and his family own five homes across the US.
Source: Business Insider One estate, with two homes on 5.3 acres of land, is located in Medina, Washington, not far from Amazon's Seattle headquarters.
Source: Business Insider Business Insider's Harrison Jacobs visited Medina in 2017 to get a sense of what the haven for Seattle's mega-wealthy was like.
Source: Business Insider Jacobs got a picture of the outside of Bezos' estate, but tall hedges and a gate blocked any view inside.
Source: Business Insider Bezos also owns a Spanish-style mansion in Beverly Hills, California.
Source: Business Insider He also owns a ranch in Van Horn, Texas, which serves as a base for his Blue Origin space exploration company.
Source: Business Insider Bezos purchased a townhouse in Washington, DC in 2016.
Source: Business Insider Finally, Bezos' parents own three condos in the Century building at 25 Central Park West in Manhattan.
Source: Business Insider Bezos has traditionally been somewhat frugal with his ground transportation. As recently as 2013, he was still driving a Honda Accord, according to the book "The Everything Store."
Source: "The Everything Store" via Business Insider However, Bezos also owns a $65 million Gulfstream G650ER private jet.
Source: Business Insider Bezos sometimes has a taste for exotic cuisine. The founder of e-commerce startup Woot recounted a breakfast with Bezos shortly after Amazon acquired the company at which the billionaire ordered octopus.
Source: Business Insider The founder recounted Bezos explaining similarities between Amazon's acquisition of Woot and his offbeat breakfast order. "You're the octopus that I'm having for breakfast," Bezos said. "When I look at the menu, you're the thing I don't understand, the thing I've never had. I must have the breakfast octopus."
Source: Business Insider Bezos has not engaged in public philanthropy to the same extent as many of his hyper-billionaire peers like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have both pledged to donate the majority of their fortunes to charity.
Source: Business Insider Bezos' ex-wife MacKenzie did sign Gates' Giving Pledge in May 2019, pledging to donate more than half of her fortune during her lifetime.
Source: Business Insider Bezos has, however, supported Mary's Place, a Seattle organization that provides shelter and employment training to those who are homeless, and TheDream.US, which supports people who were brought to the US as undocumented immigrants when they were children.
Source: Business Insider According to CNBC, Bezos has also donated significant sums to Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington Foundation, and Princeton University.
Source: CNBC Bezos also supports some more unusual ventures, like the Long Now Foundation, which seeks to build a giant mechanical "10,000 year clock" underground in West Texas.
Source: Business Insider The clock is intended to be a "symbol for long-term thinking," according to a tweet from Bezos.
Source: Business Insider Bezos has been fascinated and inspired by NASA and space travel since watching the Apollo moon landings in his childhood. In 2013, Bezos funded and led an expedition to recover one of the rocket engines from the Apollo 12 mission from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.
Source: The Seattle Times Bezos' most ambitious venture may be Blue Origin, his space exploration company.
Blue Origin has had several successful test flights of its reusable New Shepard rocket, and is currently developing the larger, mostly reusable New Glenn rocket system, intended to compete with Elon Musk's SpaceX.
Source: Business Insider In the long term, Bezos intends for Blue Origin to support large-scale human spaceflight, with the goal of colonizing the solar system.
Source: Business Insider Bezos told Matthias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider's parent company Axel Springer, that he considers Blue Origin "the most important work [he's] doing."
Source: Business Insider Indeed, Bezos told Döpfner that he plans to spend his entire fortune on space exploration, saying, "I am going to use my financial lottery winnings from Amazon to fund that."
Source: Business Insider Bezos nearly lost the title of "the world's richest man" to Bill Gates in October 2019, after a disappointing earnings report sent both Amazon's share price and the CEO's net worth on a downward spiral in after-hours trading. Bezos' personal net worth fell $8.2 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Source: Bloomberg Bezos still has plenty of money to spend, however. He threw a star-studded birthday bash for girlfriend Lauren Sanchez in December, and added nearly $2 billion to his cash reserves after selling part of his stake in Amazon in February.
The couple is also bought the most expensive house ever sold in California in February after months of house hunting in Los Angeles. Source: Business Insider And in February, Bezos announced a pledge to spend $10 billion to fight climate change.
"I'm committing $10 billion to start and will begin issuing grants this summer," Bezos wrote on Instagram Monday. "Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let's protect it, together."