Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, long stood atop the list of the world's richest people before being dethroned by Elon Musk...
With a current estimated net worth of around $170 billion, Bezos remains in third place, right behind Musk and French businessman Bernard Arnault. However, many are unaware that Bezos' parents, Jackie and Mike Bezos, are also among the wealthiest in the world. In fact, they could be among the top 30 richest people globally, thanks to their $245,573 investment in Amazon back in 1995. If Bezos' parents haven't sold their shares, their stake in Amazon today could be worth close to $50 billion.
In the early 1990s, Bezos was fascinated by the rapid growth of internet usage at the time and wanted to capitalize on it. Seeing the potential in e-commerce, he decided to leave his job on Wall Street and create an online bookstore. Thus, Amazon was born in July 1994. However, to realize his dream and start the business, Bezos needed capital. As the story goes, he held 60 meetings with family members, friends, and potential investors in 1994 to raise about $50,000 per person, totaling $1 million. Only 20 people decided to invest in his wild idea, including his parents, younger brother Mark, and sister Christina. While his siblings invested only $10,000 each, most of the initial capital came from his parents.
According to the prospectus Amazon published before its IPO in 1997, Jackie and Mike Bezos invested $245,573 in their son's business idea in 1995; that's nearly five times more than Jeff's request. They surely weren't aware that their quarter-million-dollar investment would soon make them billionaires. By the end of the century, Jeff's net worth had already exceeded $9 billion, while Amazon's meteoric rise also turned his parents into billionaires. Since the end of 1999, it hasn't been publicly disclosed how many shares Bezos' parents hold, making it difficult to estimate their current net worth. Furthermore, the couple has continued to donate their Amazon shares to their charitable foundation, the Bezos Family Foundation, since 2001. The philanthropic organization was launched by Jeff's parents in 2000 to support science and education through various grants and programs.
According to a Bloomberg report, the parents had an estimated net worth of $30 billion in 2018, calculated considering all the shares donated to their foundation. If they haven't sold or donated more of their stakes since then, Jackie and Mike Bezos could be worth $48.5 billion, based on Amazon's latest stock price. If true, that would place Bezos' parents at 27th on the Forbes billionaires list, ahead of Nvidia co-founder Jensen Huang and even Bezos' ex-wife MacKenzie Scott. The total return on investment in that case would be about 16 million percent in less than three decades, making this investment one of the most profitable of all time. For context, Sequoia Capital's investment in WhatsApp yielded roughly 36,000 percent when Facebook acquired it in 2014.
Jeff was born to Jacklyn and her first husband, Ted Jorgensen, in January 1964. However, his biological father, Ted Jorgensen, was not actively involved in his life, and his parents divorced when Bezos was just a baby. Jacklyn remarried Miguel (Mike) Bezos, a Cuban immigrant who became Jeff's stepfather. Jeff eventually took the Bezos surname and often speaks publicly about the influence of his stepfather in shaping his values and work ethic.
However, the most significant contribution came in the form of the investment Mike made when Amazon was struggling in its early days. Clearly, the investment was not a sure bet, and Jeff even told his parents there was a 70% chance they would never see that money again.
There are numerous discussions on social media about the then huge initial investment of $250,000 by Bezos' parents.
Did Jeff Bezos truly create his success independently?
Jeff Bezos is generally considered a self-made entrepreneur for transforming Amazon into one of the world's most valuable companies. However, some critics think otherwise and disagree that Bezos deserves to be labeled a self-made man. While it's true that Bezos had certain advantages when starting Amazon in the mid-1990s, including a significant investment from his parents, he did not inherit a vast fortune or business empire from his family. He built Amazon from scratch, starting from his garage and turning it into a $1.5 trillion powerhouse, creating incredible wealth for himself and his parents.