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Amazon's Jeff Bezos Tops Gates As World's Richest Person

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Amazon's stock price jumped more than $25 early Thursday, briefly handing CEO Jeff Bezos bragging rights as the richest person in the world, with a fortune topping $90 billion. 

The surge came ahead of Amazon's (AMZN) post-market earnings report. Afternoon trading knocked Bezos back to second-richest after Microsoft's (MSFT) Bill Gates. The e-commerce giant's stock slid in after-hours trading when it reported weaker-than-expected earnings, with profit in the second quarter down more than 70 percent from a year ago as the company invested in digital content and its global supply chains. Amazon also lowered guidance for the third quarter.

Having started the year as the world's third-richest human, according to Forbes -- behind Gates and Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A) CEO Warren Buffett -- the Amazon founder's wealth has shot up along with the company's stock price, which has soared more than 40 percent this year. It now trades at more than a thousand dollars per share, a status only four other publicly listed U.S. companies carry. 

Amazon's stature among investors reflects its growing importance in the retail world, where it accounts for roughly a third of all e-commerce transactions, and its ambitions to push into other sectors of the economy, like the food business.

Bezos, who started Amazon as a way to sell books online, built the company into a massive internet retail empire, forcing traditional brick-and-mortar retailers to completely rethink their sales strategies and, in some cases, shut their doors.  The company's recent push into video content through its Prime subscription service has thrown down a gauntlet to competitors Netflix and Hulu. 

Amazon is notable for relentlessly focusing on growth and expansion, not turning a profit for years. If the recent acquisition of grocer Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, partnership with sports giant Nike and rumors Amzon is looking to break into the health care market are any indication, Bezos is looking to make Amazon even bigger -- and manage a firmer hold on his new title. 

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