Last year’s top-rated Super Bowl commercial featured celebrities like chef Gordon Ramsay, rapper Cardi B, actor Anthony Hopkins and comedian Rebel Wilson filling in for the Amazon Alexa device’s robotic voice. A man asks Alexa how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, but receives the famously acidic Ramsay’s scathing response: “You don’t know how to make a grilled cheese sandwich? Its name is the recipe, you [censored]!”
Yet also featured in that advertisement was company CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, without any text with his name at the bottom of the screen. The implicit message: you can count on one hand the CEOs whose faces are recognizable to the mass public, and Bezos is one of them.
His corporation hardly needs an explanation, since the vast majority of Americans have bought at least one item from the shopping website since its 1994 founding. With $177.8 billion in revenue last year, Fortune ranked them the No. 8 highest-earning American company and the No. 18 highest-earning company globally.
As a result, Bezos isn’t just the richest person on earth. With a net worth of $125 billion as of press time, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, he is worth a full $31.5 billion more than runner-up Bill Gates. Phrased another way, only three other people on the planet are currently worth at least half as much as Bezos.
His connections to the local area have grown in recent years. He purchased the largest house in Washington, D.C., for $23 million in the Kalorama neighborhood, with neighbors including Barack and Michelle Obama and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner. And he famously bought the Washington Post for $250 million.
It was Bezos as an individual and not Amazon as a company that purchased the Post, a distinction which has confused many. Nonetheless, President Trump has derisively nicknamed the paper “the Amazon Washington Post” and tweeted “In my opinion the Washington Post is nothing more than an expensive … lobbyist for Amazon. Is it used as protection against antitrust claims which many feel should be brought?”
Did Bezos’ ties to the area factor into Amazon’s headquarters decision? The man and the company have both been reticent to answer outright in other forums or publications, and the company didn’t respond to Northern Virginia Magazine’s inquiries. But the likely answer: it surely didn’t hurt.