Jeff Bezos Is Quietly Betting on These 15 Companies -- Why You Should, Too
Have you ever wondered what you would do if you were the richest person alive? Some of us couldn’t even dream of what to do with just $1 billion. However, we can take a look at what the actual richest man alive does with his money.
In October 2018, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos -- currently the world’s richest man -- had a net worth of $160 billion, according to Forbes. Bezos has made a wide variety of investments through Amazon; Bezos Expeditions, his venture capital firm; Nash Holdings LLC, a private company he owns; the Bezos Family Foundation; and his own personal fortune. The man is so rich, his net worth eclipses the gross domestic product of many countries.
His investments are out to save the world, too.
Bezos Expeditions has invested in biotech companies seeking to cure cancer, agriculture tech companies aiming to solve world hunger, finance tech companies empowering underserved communities and educational tech companies helping people prepare for an evolving job market. Keep reading to see what other surprising companies the famous billionaire is investing in.
In April 2017, Bezos invested $190 million from his personal cash flow during a Series D funding round for EverFi. The educational technology company focuses on financial education, social and emotional learning, and STEM and career readiness, among other offerings. According to the EverFi website, the company is “fulfilling the need for scalable education in an ever-changing world.”
Back in 2011, Bezos’s investments included about $4.5 million for General Assembly, back when the company was just a co-working space. Since then, GA has grown into a global campus that “fosters an elite professional community of individuals and companies through education and strategic career connections,” according to its website. They offer online and in-person courses at one of their 20 global locations. GA’s full-time and part-time courses help advance the careers of people looking to work in the high-demand field of tech and design.
The billionaire invested $10 million into the 3D printing company MakerBot back in 2011. MakerBot was one of the first companies to introduce 3D printing to the public in a way that was accessible to any consumer. MakerBot has since been acquired by Stratasys, a company that has pioneered 3D printing technology for 30 years.
During Series B funding in 2013, Bezos Expeditions followed super-investor David Sze with an investment in the private social media app Nextdoor. This free, invite-only app is used to connect with people who live in your community about neighborhood safety, job postings, lost pets and local politics. Nextdoor is currently in its Series E funding stage and has raised more than $285 million thus far.
In July of 2017, Bezos Expeditions made an investment in the future of food. Plenty is an agriculture technology company that develops plant sciences for crops to flourish in a pesticide and GMO-free environment. The ag-tech company received a $200 million investment from Bezos Expeditions during their Series B funding. Currently, Plenty has raised a total of $226 million in funding. You might have seen their vertical farms that grow veggies indoors, using only 1 percent of the water used in traditional agriculture and producing crop yields up to 350 times greater than traditional methods.
The extremely popular accommodation marketplace provides access to 5 million-plus unique places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries, and it received a Bezos investment of $112 million, according to a Visual Capitalist report. Airbnb has raised $4.4 billion in funding and now has about 4,000 employees. With all of the company’s success, Airbnb has talked about becoming IPO-ready for 2019. The company is currently valued at $31 billion and plans to expand their “Airbnb Trips” service, which will offer travelers a series of excursions and adventures.
Bezos appears to be trying to make the world a better place by supporting companies like Grail, a healthcare company focusing on detecting cancer early before treatments become too invasive. In 2016, Bezos Expeditions invested $100 million in Grail. Right now, the biotech company is developing a blood sampling device that can detect cancer early while creating datasets of the genome to help provide evidence for their product. Grail has $1.6 billion from three rounds of funding since its inception in 2016.
In 2014, Bezos Expeditions invested $134 million in Juno Therapeutics, a clinical-stage company that develops immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. In January 2018, pharmaceutical company Celgene acquired Juno Therapeutics for $9 billion.
Bezos Expeditions invested part of the $38 million Mark43 secured in its Series C round of funding. Mark43 was founded in 2012 which aims to improve public safety software. Amazon Web Services -- Amazon’s secure cloud computing space -- provides Mark43 support for their large criminal justice information security workloads.
This fintech company is helping people grow their small businesses by making access to credit simple, secure, fast and transparent. In 2015, Fundbox was given $50 million by Bezos Expeditions and Spark Capital Growth in a Series C funding round. Currently, the company has raised $107.5 million in funding in four rounds.
This cybersecurity company secured a $150 million investment from Bezos Expeditions back in 2014. Lookout has raised a total of $282.3 million over eight rounds of funding. The cybersecurity company provides its services to both large organizations as well as providing security to individuals on their personal mobile phones.
Uber was valued at $72 billion as of August 2018, thanks to investments from the likes of Toyota, Soft Bank and Morgan Stanley. Back in 2011, Bezos invested $37 million in Uber’s Series B funding round. The popular ride-hailing app is not yet public but could have a bright future in the market ahead of them.
In 2013, Bezos invested $60 million in Domo, a company that connects CEOs to their front-line employees with access to real-time data and insights and allows them to manage the business from their smartphones. You can buy stock in Domo for about $16 a share; unfortunately the valuation of the company dropped below its estimated $2.3 billion value to $511 million before its IPO.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures
Bezos and some of his billionaire pals are banding together to save the world with their money as the supergroup -- Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The venture capital firm led by Bezos, Bill Gates, Jack Ma of Alibaba Group, John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures has invested in nine different startups. To get some of BEV’s cash you must “generate a financial return on our investments, each of which will have the potential of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” according to Breakthrough Energy’s website.
Bezos Expeditions’ most recent venture was a $15 million investment in Mindstrong Health’s Series B funding stage in 2018. The company’s mission is to “connect patients and providers with continuous, objective measures of cognition and mood giving patients agency in their care and providers the confidence that they can notice the early signs of mental health deterioration.”
Mindstrong Health has raised $29 million in two rounds of funding since their start in 2014. Unsurprisingly, the company is generating quite a bit of buzz. MIT Technology Review claimed that Mindstrong Health is “the smartphone app that can tell you’re depressed before you know it yourself.”
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(By Priscilla Aguilera)