So for those who follow the Forbes 400 list of the world’s wealthiest people, you may have realized that in the last several months Jeff Bezos of Amazon eclipsed the top position, for now. Bill Gates is often at the top or near the top of the list, along with Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathway and Jack Ma of Alibaba Group, as well as Brazilian telecommunications magnate Carlos Slim and media consortium giant Rupert Murdoch.
Why am I writing this post, might you ask? Simply the fascination that Bezos, in building his very successful Internet tech company, has now branched out into various endeavours like television production, a platform for a suite of products outside of books and even space exploration! In venturing off to that last category of pursuit, Bezos has put himself with the ilk the likes of Elon Musk and Richard Branson, electric car and battery entrepreneur as well as media businessman, respectively.
What drives any business to branch out into such seemingly diverse product offerings? Where’s the suggestion that these are profitable lines of business? The answer: customers. Companies like Amazon, Apple and Google are tech companies that have capitalized on the information age in such a way that they have positioned themselves as strong leaders, with very strong customer bases.
Companies like Google and Amazon are not afraid to invest the large amounts of cash necessary to explore bold frontiers for their customers. By their nature, tech companies are riskier endeavours than the oil and gas industry, for example. But so long as these tech titans listen and remain responsive to the customers that helped build their collective wealth, they will be able to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak.
The Giving Pledge
While billionaires Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg have signed on to the Giving Pledge, Jeff Bezos has not (for now). And that’s okay.
Where are Amazon resources going? It is being invested in space exploration and this cash-heavy endeavour remains one of Bezos’ focuses. To be fair, Bezos and his company have given and do presently give away money to charitable causes.
Right now, however, Bezos remains committed to his core business activities. I imagine later on, in the same way that Buffett, Gates realized, Bezos will figure out what philanthropic causes energize him, and he will give away money to them.