Amazon has turned red on the day, erasing some of its massive post-earnings gains, following a report that CEO Jeff Bezos sold 0.2% of the company for $1.8 billion. However, before investors decide that the CEO is calling the top, note that Bezos sold 905,456 Amazon shares on Friday and Monday under a pre-arranged trading plan, the filings reveal.
Putting that number in context, Bloomberg observes that in the 15 years after Amazon went public, Bezos sold a fifth of the company for $2 billion. So in the past few days, he sold shares equal to roughly one-hundreth of this stake for roughy similar proceeds. The latest liquidation brings the newly divorced bachelor's total stock sales to about $12 billion, with two-thirds of those occurring in the past four years, according to calculations by Bloomberg.
Other recent transaction by Bezos include the sale of $2 billion in 2017 and $2.8 billion in 2019, and reflect Amazon’s soaring valuation, which closed above $1 trillion for the first time on Tuesday.
That means Bezos’s remaining 11% stake is worth $116 billion, making him the richest person in the world, even after netting out the stake that he handed over to his former wife following their divorce. Meanwhile, the size and frequency of sales also reflects the changing needs of his increasingly public profile.
As the formerly shy Bezos drifted from the shadows to being in the center of the public spotlight, with stints including a red carpet appearance with his new girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, hosting a party at his Washington mansion for the political and financial elite, not to mention the Enquirer scandal over his dick pics, the increasingly musclar owner of the Washington Post has spent boatloads of money. In addition to properties on both coasts, he has his own rural getaway: 170,000 hectares of desert scrub in Texas, where he indulges his passion for space exploration.
Bezos is also funding his rocket company Blue Origin LLC with about $1 billion a year through the sale of Amazon stock.
“The price of admission to space is very high,” Bezos said when accepting the Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award at the Explorers Club Annual Dinner in 2018. "I’m in the process of converting my Amazon lottery winnings into a much lower price of admission so we can go explore the Solar System."
In retrospect, one can hardly begrudge Bezos his recent sale: after all, his remaining Amazon stock has already climbed by $11 billion this year. Still, the market was somewhat displeased with the news and sent the price of AMZN modestly lower on the day.