By L. Maksoud
This article is dedicated to Ms Leu. For, without her, I wouldn’t be able to look at business terms like ‘acquisition’ while researching about this & say- “hey, I know what that means!”.
There are around 150 billion stars in the Milky Way. If Jeff Bezos agreed to pay around $1.50 for each one, he could own every luminous spheroid of plasma in the galaxy, every speck of light we see in the stellar night sky. 51 round trips to Mars, the Star Wars franchise (50 times), 51 billion of those tuck-shop cookies everyone loves, 1,898,148 years studying at St Paul’s— these are all things the Amazon CEO could afford with his net worth of $205 billion dollars.
Last Wednesday, 26th of August, Forbes magazine announced that Jeff Bezos had become the first person in history to surpass said amount. An incomprehensible, obscene proportion of money, which skyrocketed into his business in tandem with the US facing its worst economic downturn since the Wall Street Crash of 1929. As low wage workers got laid-off because of the pandemic, some Silicon Valley personalities such as Bezos benefited from shifting consumer habits. This is in no way an eat-the-rich-and-boycott-Amazon article. I order from Amazon, i've used Kindle, I watch Fleabag on Prime. This is only a discourse about a man who built an empire so colossal in 26 years, that his divorce settlement made his ex-wife into the richest woman in the world.
She took his heart. And 25% of his Amazon stakes.
It is almost part of some prophecy that all tech billionaires start off in a garage. On par with Apple, Disney, & Google, Bezos set up desks made out of Home-Depot doors in his makeshift Seattle office, and started Amazon as an online bookstore. After he went public in 1997, selling shares at $18, slightly less than its given valuation of $300 million today (sarcasm), the company expanded its market into music, clothing, unveiled the Kindle & started shipping on Sundays. In 2004, they evolved into a multinational company after buying China’s book-and-technology-seller market leader, Joyo, for $75 million.
Can’t forget to mention how Bezos was named Time person of the year somewhere in this timeline.
In 2005, Amazon announced its loyalty program Prime. From 2009 onwards, the company started conquering and digging its flag into other industries; acquiring Zappos, the robotics company Kiva Systems, the video game streamer Twitch, bought the Washington Post which was struggling to stay afloat, and finally, Whole Foods for $13.4 billion in 2017. This acquisition was a turning point for the firm. Their physical presence was now as concrete than ever, & their shadow began looming over Walmart, its lurking competitor.
Today, Amazon is far past being a trillion dollar company; smothering businesses & preventing ambition and innovation with its growing monopoly. While his employees work 12-hour-shifts under grueling conditions, Bezos finds new ways of entertaining himself; such as with his commercial aerospace program, Blue Origin, in hopes of making trips beyond the stratosphere- innovating space tourism into alien places of a galaxy he could buy.
So here is why Jeff Bezos should buy me ice cream: Because if you collected a dollar per second, disregarding interest & inflation, you would need to have begun your collection before 4000BC to get to his net worth (Thanks for that info, Mr Puffett). You would need to start catching up with Jeff Bezos back when the Egyptians were still figuring out papyrus & agriculture was yet to become a ‘thing' in Eurasia.
Jeff Bezos should buy me ice cream because it wouldn't make a difference to him. Neither would doubling the National Cancer Institute's Budget, or donating eyeglasses to less fortunate people who can't afford it, or giving money to relief organizations, or investing a bit more to ensure his warehouse workers stop dying from COVID-19.
But he hasn't bought me ice cream or, far more commendably, aided humanity to the extent that he could.
Bezos is undeniably an intelligent businessman. But for now, he will be remembered for his wealth, and not for how he used it.