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Amazon CEO Bezos $1bn Stock Sell-Off To Fund Space Firm

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Jeff Bezos this week has sold $941m in Amazon stock as he continues to plough funds into space venture

Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos has over the past three days sold 1 million shares worth a staggering $940.74million (£727m).

Bezos took advantage of a surge in Amazon’s share price to gain the funds – the largest ever tranche of money he has taken out of Amazon in a single transaction.

But it seems that the boss of Amazon is not wanting the cash for himself, and he recently admitted that he sells about $1bn (£773m) in Amazon stock per year to fund his Blue Origin space exploration firm.

Amazon Web Services
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos

Planned Sale

It should be remembered that Jeff Bezos is ranked as the world’s third-richest man (behind Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Spanish entrepreneur Amancio Ortega Gaona), and his stock offloading is part of a regular share divestiture.

From Tuesday to Thursday this week, he sold 1 millions ranging in price from about $935 to $950 per share, Bloomberg reported, citing a regulatory filing.

And Bezos is certainly not going to run out money anytime soon.

He still owns 79.9 million shares, or about 17 percent of Amazon, down from 83 million shares at the end of 2015.

Last year Bezos did make big sales in May and August 2016 that netted him around $1.4bn (£1.1bn).

Bezos is not shy about spending his wealth. In 2013 for example he purchased the Washington Post newspaper, known for its investigative journalism, out of his own personal fortune. At the time he paid $250m (£193m) for the newspaper.

Bezos has also made previous investments in projects such as a 10,000-year clock and the recovery of moon-mission booster rockets from the ocean floor.

Up, Up, And Away

But it is his space exploration firm, Blue Origin, that takes most of his investment.

Blue Origin, aims to send tourists on brief flights into suborbital space where they can experience weightlessness and gain a view of the Earth.

And it is not as if Bezos does not have any competition here.

Rival space space tourism include Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which aims to send tourists around the moon next year, and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

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