Amazon founder Jeff Bezos overtakes Bill Gates, becomes world’s richest man

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There is a new name at the top of the world wealth league. The founder of Amazon has overtaken Microsoft’s Bill Gates to claim the title of world’s richest person.

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Jeff Bezos leapfrogged Gates, who has been the richest man on the planet since 2013, after a rise in the share price of Amazon ahead of its latest results due later on Thursday.

According to a real-time billionaires index compiled by Forbes, the rise pushed the value of Bezos’s fortune to $91bn (£69bn) – compared with Gates’ wealth of $90bn. Their riches are calculated on the share prices of their respective companies and at the current values, Bezos’s stake is twice as big as the carmarker Ford.

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Bezos – born in 1964 in Albuquerque, New Mexico – keeps a relatively low profile, but has used some of the wealth he has amassed to buy the Washington Post and invest in space travel through Blue Origin, a company he founded in 2000.

He founded Amazon in 1994 when he sold books from his garage in Seattle before expanding into a huge range of other products and capturing the global rush to shop online. Amazon now accounts for 43% of everything sold online in the US and 64 million people have signed up for its Prime service, which gives access to free deliveries and video streaming.

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Amazon shares have soared this year, making the company worth more than $500bn and boosting Bezos’s wealth as he owns 17% of the company. He also has a number of other investments, including in Google, Uber, Twitter and Airbnb, worth more than $5bn.

At the start of 2017, Bezos was ranked fourth-richest in the world, behind Gates, the investor Warren Buffett and Amancio Ortega, who founded Inditex, the company behind retailer Zara.

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