Amazon’s chairman and its largest single shareholder, Jeff Bezos, has sold a large number of shares in the e-commerce and cloud giant.

According to Forbes, citing a company filing last Friday, Bezos sold around 12 million shares that is thought to be worth approximately $2 billion.

Amazon began life as an online bookseller, after Bezos had incorporated Amazon on 5 July 1994 in a Seattle garage. Since then he turned Amazon into a multinational tech company focusing on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, online advertising and AI.

Share sale

Bezos reportedly sold the 12 million shares last week on Wednesday and Thursday – the first time he has offloaded shares since 2021 – and also taking advantage of a two-year high for Amazon’s share price.

Bezos currently holds 976 million shares in Amazon (or 9.4 percent of its stock), and the 12 million shares sold last week represents slightly more than 1 percent of his holdings.

It comes after Forbes had reported that a regulatory filing last November, showed that Bezos has filed a trading plan to sell a total of 50 million shares, which represent more than 5 percent of his shareholding, by 31 January 2025.

The share sale comes after Forbes reported that Bezos has registered to vote in tax-friendly Florida and announced his move to Miami.

Florida is notable as it does not have a state-level capital gains tax.

Bezos is currently the world’s second richest person with a net worth of $200 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Life changes

Bezos at one stage held a 42 percent ownership stake in Amazon, but this was slashed down to 9.4 percent after share sales (totalling $32 billion), share give aways (totalling $4.7 billion), and his expensive divorce from his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott.

The divorce had made MacKenzie Scott one of the richest women in the world, after she had received a quarter of Bezos’ Amazon stake in their 2019 divorce settlement.

Scott’s shares are still reportedly listed under Bezos’ name in Amazon filings, but she has also reduced her Amazon stake, offloading 61 million shares worth $10 billion in 2023.

The shares sales of Bezos have been used to pour cash into his space venture Blue Origin. It is estimated that Bezos has invested nearly $11 billion into Blue Origin as of mid-2023.

In July 2021 Bezos and his brother (Mark Bezos) were onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard, when it blasted off into orbit more than 100km (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface.

In late May 2021 Bezos had confirmed he would step down at CEO on 5 July 2021, after 27 years in charge at Amazon.

Bezos was succeed by Andy Jassy in July 2021, who had previously been the head of Amazon’s cloud computing business (AWS).

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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