Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos Beats Bill Gates

Thanks to further Amazon gains, Jeff Bezos is now almost the richest man in the world

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The 53-year-old magnate briefly surpassed Microsoft's Bill Gates, often a fixture as the richest man, when his company's stock surged Thursday morning.

Forbes estimated Bezos' net worth of over $89 billion the markets closed on Wednesday, inching closer to Bill Gates who had a net worth of just over $90 billion.

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"Amazon Prime is why so much physical retail is going away", said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities Inc. analyst who has a buy rating on the stock and a price target of $1,250. Since then, Amazon has made key investments including purchasing Whole Foods and expanding its role at the forefront of e-commerce with a record-breaking Amazon Prime Day earlier this month, where sales grew 60% from the same sale past year.

Since then, Amazon's stock has climbed even higher, which should further increase the Bezos lead - at least for now. (Richest in money, not in kindness, though both CEOs are presumably very kind.) Bezos owns 17 percent of Amazon. In addition to running Amazon, Bezos also owns the Washington Post and is starting a rocket company called Blue Origins.

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Bezos becomes the seventh person to be crowned world's richest person since the magazine started tracking billionaires around the globe 30 years ago. At his peak Gates was worth $90 billion, marking the largest single fortune ever.

Bezos's rise to No. 1 followed a surge in Amazon.com shares Thursday ahead of the online retailer's earnings report due out later in the day.

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Unlike numerous world's richest people, Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge, a campaign launched in 2010 by Warren Buffett and Gates to encourage the world's wealthiest people to contribute the majority of their money to philanthropic efforts.

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