Amazon's Jeff Bezos Briefly Becomes World's Richest Person -- Update

By Laura Stevens Features Dow Jones Newswires

Amazon.com Inc. founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos briefly became the richest person in the world as the online retailer's stock rose ahead of quarterly results, according to a list that tracks wealth.

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Mr. Bezos, 53, reached a net worth of over $90.6 billion as the stock market opened Thursday, according to Forbes, which has tracked a list of wealthiest people since 1987. That allowed him to steal the title from Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates by $500 million.

Mr. Bezos lost his lead several hours later when Amazon's stock turned downward, part of an overall selloff. Amazon's stock closed down 0.65% at $1,046.

Sliding quarterly profits -- the cost of Amazon's dominance in everything from retail to cloud services -- sent the company's shares lower in after-hours trading.

Shares were up about 39% year-to-date after the close.

According to the company's proxy filing in April, Mr. Bezos' stake in the company was 16.9%. Soon after, he sold around $1 billion in shares.

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The Seattle-based online retailer is dipping its toes into new business lines and rapidly expanding. This week alone, it said it was holding a j ob fair to hire 50,000 new warehouse workers in the U.S. and launching operations in Singapore

It has also recently proved its dominance in retail, enticing legacy holdout brands like Nike Inc. and Sears Holdings Corp.'s Kenmore to start selling on its site.

And it is acquiring Whole Foods Market Inc. for $13.7 billion plus debt, giving Amazon more than 460 stores overnight, a network that could let the company sell its private-label brands and devices in stores, expand its distribution network, and bolster its Prime Now and Fresh delivery businesses.

Plus, it becomes a major player in the grocery space -- an area in which it's struggled to gain traction -- overnight.

Mr. Bezos earned a degree from Princeton University in electrical engineering and computer science and worked on Wall Street before founding Amazon in his garage in 1994. He's known by former employees for staying focused on a long-term vision for the company while also diving into details.

Mr. Bezos also owns the Washington Post and Blue Origin LLC, a company he founded a decade ago to lower launch costs and make reusable rockets a reality. Earlier this year, Mr. Bezos said he sells about a billion dollars of Amazon stock a year to invest in Blue Origin.

Mr. Bezos declined through a spokesman to comment.

Write to Laura Stevens at laura.stevens@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 27, 2017 17:47 ET (21:47 GMT)