Jeff Bezos Still Owns Amazon, Holds 9.8% Stake in the Company

Mohit Oberoi, CFA - Author
By

Aug. 3 2022, Published 8:19 a.m. ET

It has now been over a year since Jeff Bezos stepped down as Amazon’s CEO. The company was incorporated on July 5, 1994, and exactly 27 years later Bezos handed over the baton to Andy Jassy who was then heading the company’s cloud business. Why did Bezos step down and does he still own Amazon?

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Amazon stock has sagged ever since Bezos stepped down. However, that isn't a reflection on Jassy’s leadership but more about the growth slowdown that pandemic winners like Amazon are facing. The company overhired and created excess fulfillment network capacity expecting the high growth to continue. However, its revenue growth has stalled and fell to the lowest level in decades in the second quarter of 2022.

Why did Bezos step down from Amazon?

Apart from Amazon, Bezos has several other interests — both business as well as philanthropic. In the letter to employees, Bezos wrote, “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming.” He added that after quitting as the CEO he would have the “time and energy” to focus on the Bezos Earth Fund, the Day 1 Fund, The Washington Post, as well as the space travel company Blue Origin.

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Bezos took a space flight soon after, which he admitted was his childhood dream. Before him, Sir Richard Branson also took a space flight and became the first billionaire to land in space. Meanwhile, billionaires taking space flight at a time when the world was still grappling with COVID-19 infuriated many and there was an online campaign calling upon Bezos to stay in space and not return to earth.

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Jeff Bezos is still associated with Amazon.

While Bezos quit as Amazon’s CEO, he transitioned to the role of Executive Chairman where he would remain “engaged in important Amazon initiatives.” He said that it wasn't about retiring.

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Bezos sold Amazon shares for philanthropy.

In 2021, Bezos sold some Amazon shares for philanthropy. His stake in the e-commerce and cloud giant also came down following his divorce settlement with MacKenzie Scott. As part of the settlement, she also gave up the voting powers in Amazon as well as her interests in Blue Origin and The Washington Post.

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Bezos continued to remain the world’s richest person after the divorce settlement but was eventually dislodged by Elon Musk in 2021. Tesla stock rose 740 percent in 2020 and another 50 percent in 2021, which catapulted Musk as the world’s richest person. Bezos’ net worth is now around $160 billion, which is over $110 billion lower than Bezos.

Bezos still owns Amazon shares.

Meanwhile, Bezos still owns Amazon shares and holds a 9.8 percent stake in the company currently valued at over $133 billion. The Vanguard Group, BlackRock, and State Street Global Advisors are the other leading Amazon stockholders in that order and hold 6.7 percent, 3.6 percent, and 3.3 percent stakes, respectively.

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amazoncom inc amzn stock price
Source: TIKR

However, as is the case with most large U.S. companies, these holdings are due to the ETFs and index funds. Since Amazon is part of leading indices like the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, these funds have to buy the stock for their index funds and ETFs. Tesla also joined the S&P 500 in 2020. Even Berkshire Hathaway holds an indirect interest in the company thanks to its investment in S&P 500 ETFs.

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