the richest person on the planet

How Long Before Jeff Bezos Overtakes Bill Gates As Richest Person On Planet?

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For the 30 years FORBES has been tracking global wealth, only five people have ranked on our annual compendium of wealth as the richest person on the planet. At least one other person held the title, but so briefly (just two days), that he never appeared at that rank on FORBES’ annual list of World’s Billionaires.

Now, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is poised to join this exclusive single digit club, as Amazon stock continues to soar. The online retailer’s shares climbed 1.3% on Monday, adding $1.1 billion to Bezos’ net worth. Bezos is now a mere $2 billion from assuming the No. 1 spot on FORBES Real-Time Billionaires List, which would put him in the company of an exclusive group of billionaires who have held the title. Bezos has a net worth FORBES estimates at $88.2 billion as of the close of markets on Monday, while Microsoft founder Bill Gates holds the top spot on the list with a $90.1 billion fortune.

Bezos’ net worth has risen $15.4 billion since the 2017 Billionaires List was published four months ago. That was on top of a $27.6 billion jump the previous 12 months.  As the market stands now, a 2.5% jump in Amazon’s stock price would make Bezos the richest person in the world. Based on his gain of $15.4 billion in the past 157 days, it would take Bezos another three weeks to best Gates at his current net worth. Or it could just take one more blockbuster event like a strong earnings report. Amazon reports on Thursday, so Bezos has a chance to move up in what even could be hours.

It would be a huge deal if he did. Gates has held the title for 18 of the past 23 years. So who were the other richest people in the world besides Gates in the three decades FORBES has been tracking wealth?

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The richest person on FORBES’ very first World Billionaires List in 1987 was Japanese billionaire Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, who had a $20 billion net worth at the time. Tsutsumi was one of 140 billionaires around the world on that first ranking of the world’s ten-figure fortunes, worth a combined $295 billion. Tsutsumi’s wealth came from real estate and retail through his Seibu Group at the height of the Japanese real estate bubble.

In 1991, another Japanese real estate billionaire, Taikichiro Mori, became the world’s richest person with a $15 billion fortune, $1 billion higher than Tsutsumi’s fortune that year. Mori was only the world’s richest person for two years. In 1993, Tsutsumi was back on top with a $9 billion fortune and was also the richest person the next year for the last time. A decade later, Tsutsumi had a fall from grace: His Seibu Group was delisted in 2004 due to years of reporting errors. He was arrested the next year, fined $42,000 and received a four-year suspended prison sentence. Tsutsumi fell off of the Billionaires List entirely in 2007.

An American first took the top spot in 1995. That was the year Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates climbed to number one with a net worth of $12.5 billion. He was one of just 365 billionaires that year. Since then he’s held onto the title for longer than anyone else, and was number one for 13 years in a row. His pal, revered investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, bested him briefly in 2008, with a net worth of $62 billion, $4 billion more than Gates’ $58 billion, whose fortune tumbled after Microsoft’s failed attempt to merge with Yahoo. That was also the year Gates stepped down as chairman of Microsoft to focus on the Bill &  Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates reclaimed the top ranking in 2009 but with a much smaller fortune of $40 billion, as the financial crisis wrecked havoc on worldwide wealth.

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In 2010, a billionaire from a country other than the U.S. or Japan topped the list for the first time: telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico. Slim held onto the top spot for four years before being overtaken by Gates. Slim is now the sixth richest in the world.

Amancio Ortega, the founder of Spanish clothing retailer Inditex (best known in the U.S. for its Zara stores), briefly topped Gates as number one richest on Forbes’ real-time rankings for two days in September 2016 but just as quickly fell out of the top rank.

Altogether Gates has been the richest person in the world for more than half of the 30 years FORBES has been tracking wealth. Perhaps it’s finally time for someone to knock him from his perch. Can Bezos do it?