Coronavirus adds $24bn to fortune of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos

Amazon’s CEO and founder was already world’s richest person before pandemic boosted his net worth 

Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 15 April 2020 17:29 BST
Jeff Bezos tours Amazon fulfillment centre

Coronavirus has boosted the net worth of American billionaire Jeff Bezos by $24bn (£19bn) as the demand for online shopping sent Amazon’s stock price to an all-time high.

The Amazon founder and CEO was already the world’s richest person, but now according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his fortune is worth $138bn (£110bn).

On Tuesday, Amazon’s share price climbed 5.3 per cent as consumers have moved online during the coronavirus pandemic.

The US economy is expected to contract by almost double that of the global economy, according to the IMF, with a 5.9 per cent drop in GDP forecast for 2020.

Mr Bezos becomes the latest billionaire to benefit from the current economic standstill whilst 22 million Americans claim unemployment.

Tesla founder Elon Musk added $10.4 bn (£8.3 bn) to his fortune this year, whilst the demand for teleconferencing has seen the fortune of Zoom founder Eric Yuan more than double to $7.4 bn (£5.9bn).

Walmart owners, the Walton family, also saw a 5 per cent increase in their net worth as consumers have come to depend on the retailing giant for goods during the lockdown.

Amazon has been recruiting thousands of new workers to meet current demands.

At the same time, Amazon has been widely criticised for workplace safety during the pandemic. Distribution warehouses across the world have seen mass walkouts since the pandemic began in Europe and the US.

According to The New York Times, 50 of Amazon’s US warehouses have seen confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Last month, worker Christian Smalls was dismissed after he had aided a demonstration at a New York distribution centre. Amazon said Mr Smalls had been in violation of quarantine policy.

On Friday, Amazon fired two designers who had made public statements questioning workplace safety measures whilst pledging to match donations of up to $500 to support warehouse staff at risk of getting the virus.

The company said Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham had violated internal policy.

In a statement, Ms Cunningham said that Amazon could use its power to act during the pandemic, but to do so “we have to really listen to the workers who are on the front line, who don’t feel adequately protected.

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