Warren Buffett last week stumbled in the billionaire rankings – for the best reason you can imagine. Philanthropy.
Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos briefly edged Buffett as the third-richest man in the world with a net worth of $65 billion, $32 million more than Buffett, who heads the Berkshire-Hathaway investment group. That put Bezos behind only Bill Gates ($89 billion) and Spanish retail magnate Amancia Ortega ($73 billion) on the list of the world’s richest people.
Bezos’ net worth has increased $5.4 billion in 2016 on the steady rise of Amazon’s stock, according to Forbes. But the real reason Bezos was able to edge Buffett for the #3 spot was Buffett’s July 14th $2.9 billion donation to charity. Most of that gift went to the Gates Foundation, run by Bill and Melinda Gates, in the form of Berkshire-Hathaway stock.
In 2010, Buffet and Gates launched an effort to convince the world’s billionaires to give at least 50% of their net worth to charity. So far, 154 people, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, have signed that “Giving Pledge.” Buffett has promised to give away 99% of his wealth in his lifetime. He’s already donated $28.5 billion to charity.
Buffett quickly regained his #3 ranking billionaire ranking with a current net worth of about $65 billion to Bezos’ $64 billion. Bezos and others may one day permanently surpass Buffett in the billionaire rankings, but I think you can argue that Warren Buffett is the richest man in the world in the ways that really matter.