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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the world's richest person as a jump in the share price of the US tech giant enabled him to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Forbes magazine estimated. AFP pic.

NEW YORK: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on Thursday became the world's richest person, as a jump in the share price of the US tech giant enabled him to overtake Microsoft founder Bill Gates, a new estimate showed.

Forbes magazine said its real-time tracking of personal fortunes showed Bezos with a net worth of US$90.5 billion, ahead of the US$90 billion for Gates early Thursday.

A few hours later, though, Bezos had slipped back to second place as Amazon shares pared their gains.

Bezos owns around 17 per cent of the equity of Amazon, which has been expanding from its original mission as an online retailer to a diversified tech firm in cloud computing, online video, computer hardware and artificial intelligence.

The company also recently announced plans to acquire US grocer Whole Foods, which could help Amazon expand in that sector.

Amazon shares were up 1.7 per cent at US$1,070.72 and have risen some 24 per cent over the past four months, adding some US$17 billion to the net worth of the 53-year-old Bezos.

According to Forbes, Gates has been the richest person in the magazine's annual rankings in March for the past four years and for 18 of the past 22 years. Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim overtook Gates from 2010 to 2013.

Among the billionaires gaining ground is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has an estimated worth of some US$71.3 billion according to the real-time Forbes estimate.

While most of Bezos's wealth is in Amazon, he also owns the private space firm Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper.

Forbes pointed out that Gates could have been considerably wealthier, having given away more than US$30 billion to philanthropic causes over the years.

Bezos has given an estimated US$100 million, but recently asked users on Twitter for ideas for charitable donations which could have an impact on the world. -- AFP

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