A surge in shares of Amazon early Thursday — coupled with a slight dip in Microsoft shares — helped Amazon’s 53-year-old founder vault past Bill Gates to top the world’s wealthiest list for the first time.
Shares of the online retailer rose 1.8 percent to $1,071.31 as of 9:30 a.m. in New York, giving Bezos, who owns about 17 percent of the e-commerce giant, a net worth of more than $90 billion, surpassing Gates’ $89 billion.
Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index.
Nevertheless, Bezos looks poised to extend his lead over Gates in the coming months, with stock analyst James Cakmak predicting that Amazon shares could double to $2,000 if its recent acquisition of Whole Foods is approved by regulators.
That would make Amazon “the first trillion-dollar company,” Cakmak told CNBC Thursday. Indeed, Amazon’s market capitalization surpassed the $500 billion mark for the first time Wednesday, putting it in fourth place behind No. 1-ranked Apple, No. 2-ranked Google and No. 3-ranked Microsoft.
Earlier this year, Bezos surpassed Warren Buffett to take the No. 2 spot among the world’s richest. As of this week, Buffett was ranked fourth, just behind Spanish clothing tycoon Amancio Ortega Gaona. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is currently the world’s fifth-richest, according to Bloomberg.
Shares of Seattle-based Amazon have gained 40 percent this year, adding $24 billion to Bezos’ net worth as the online behemoth continues to steal business from retailers and fellow web-based sellers of everything from books to appliances to streaming movies and music.
Bezos, who started Amazon 22 years ago selling books out of a garage, currently owns about 80 million shares of the company.
Amazon is slated to report its second-quarter earnings after the bell Thursday, and better-than-expected results could solidify Bezos’ top spot among the world’s billionaires.
Unlike Gates, Bezos hasn’t been big on philanthropy despite his riches, instead spending much of his personal wealth and free time on his space exploration company, Blue Origin.
New York Post