They say the first million is the hardest.
Occasionally I'll post here about absurdly incredible one-day gains of the rich and famous--like the time Oprah Winfrey made $71 million in one day, after she acquired 10 percent of Weight Watchers and its stock went through the roof. Even bigger of course, Alphabet jumped 5.6 percent in a single day last October and Larry Page and Sergey Brin gained $2.5 billion and $2.4 billion each.
But the guy who keeps outdoing them is Jeff Bezos.
Some of my co-workers previously worked at another company that was acquired by Amazon. So when Amazon stock rises, there can be a few murmurs around the office. Yesterday afternoon: Lots of murmurs, as Amazon jumped from $600 a share to a high of $681.50 in after hours trading, on the strength of the retail-and-everything giant's pretty amazing first quarter earnings report.
Bezos's take? He made $6 billion in 20 minutes. (Last October, on the same day that Brin and Page made so much money, Bezos pulled in $2.9 billion.)
It's hard even to believe those words as I write them. Just how much money is $6 billion?
- It's enough that Bezos could, for example, go to a sold-out Seattle Mariners game and give every single person in attendance $125,000. (Actually that's kind of a trick example, since the Mariners don't sell out their stadium.)
- It's about the GDP of the African nation of Guinea (with 8 million people). Bezos picked it up in significantly less time than it took me to write this article.
- It's 24 times as much as he paid for The Washington Post. (On average, he made enough to buy the post in 49 seconds.)
- It's enough that he could have bought every Tesla Model S sold last year. Twice.
- It's enough to buy the Dallas Cowboys--plus the New York Yankees and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It's a lot of freaking money.
Every time I write an article with this kind of observation, I wind up getting comments here and on Facebook suggesting I'm some kind of socialist.
I'm not at all. I think Bezos is incredible and Amazon is one of the most amazing companies of all time. In fact, this kind of mathematical game is a sort of disbelieving sport for me--maybe the opposite of schadenfreude (kind of like the Buddhist concept of mudita, come to think of it).
But in a world where a heck of a lot of people are barely making ends meet, and where startups fail every day for lack of capital, it makes sense to try to keep these numbers in perspective.
What's your reaction? Let me know in the comments below, and check out the bonus e-book. It's not on Amazon; you can only download it for free: The Big Free Book of Success.