Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had an expensive divorce this year but that won’t stop him from ending 2019 as the world’s richest person. | Source: REUTERS/Danny Moloshok/File Photo
- Jeff Bezos now holds a slim lead over Bill Gates after record holiday sales boosted Amazon.
- Amazon’s stock price is still below its 2018 high of $2050 though giving Bezos a chance at a more comfortable lead.
- The holiday sales boom came despite a shorter period for shoppers.
After being the world’s second-richest person for weeks, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has now reclaimed the top spot from fellow Washingtonian Bill Gates. This came after Amazon’s stock rose following a record-setting holiday shopping season.
After closing the Christmas even trading session at slightly below $1790, the stock went up by over 4% to close above $1868 on Boxing Day.
Amazon stock price chart | Source: TradingView
With the most recent SEC filing showing that Jeff Bezos owns 57,610,359 shares of Amazon, the stock appreciation boosted his net worth by over $4.5 billion. His stake in Amazon was worth over $107 billion as of December 26th. Coupled with other assets, Bezos’ net worth now stands at $116 billion. Bill Gates is worth $113 billion, per the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Holiday season boosts Amazon
The online retail giant’s shares rose following record-breaking sales during the holiday period. While Amazon did not cite any specifics, the ecommerce giant announced that there were a record number of people who tried its Prime subscription service over this holiday season compared to previous years.
Per Amazon, the number of deliveries made on Amazon Prime trial accounts “nearly quadrupled” this holiday season relative to last year’s. The number of customers who shipped their holiday season order to an Amazon pickup location also increased by 60% compared to last year.
Amazon’s grocery deliveries also grew significantly with the number of Prime members who experimented with the service for the first time rising by over 80%. The number of grocery items that were ordered on Amazon also more than doubled during this festive season relative to last year’s.
Holiday cheer extended to all online retailers
A bumper holiday shopping season was enjoyed across the US online retail sector. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, online sales in the US grew 18.8%. E-commerce sales comprised 14.6% of all retail sales during this year’s holiday shopping period. eMarketer estimates that Amazon’s share of the US retail ecommerce sales in 2019 hovers around 38%.
Overall, holiday sales went up by 3.4%.
How long will Jeff Bezos keep Bill Gates at bay?
Unlike last year when Bezos had a comfortable lead as the world’s richest person, the Amazon founder now has a narrower lead over Bill Gates. At one time last year, the gap between Bezos and the second-richest person was over $50 billion. A divorce earlier in the year is responsible for reducing his stake in Amazon from about 17% to 12%.
Additionally, Amazon stock is off the record high of slightly over $2050 it reached last year. But if the stock keeps appreciating Bezos may well find himself again with a comfortable lead. The biggest danger though is that more than 90% of his net worth is tied in the Amazon stock. How long he lasts at the top of the billionaire food chain will, therefore, depend heavily on Amazon’s fortunes.