While the majority of Jeff Bezos’ $150 billion fortune comes from his stake in Amazon.com Inc., his venture capital firm, Bezos Expeditions, is also a contributing factor. In fact, since retiring as CEO of the world’s largest e-commerce company, Bezos has focused on acquiring startups from different industries as his hunt for the next big bet continues. From space to real estate, Bezos seemingly dips his toes in all kinds of water.
Investments over the years
Bezos invests primarily through his Washington-based investment firm Bezos Expeditions. The venture capital firm has made several prudent investments in early- and late-stage ventures since its inception in 2005. Apart from that, it owns Nashville Holdings LLC, through which it bought the Washington Post in 2013.
As expected, Bezos was an angel investor in Google in 1998. His $250,000 is worth about $3.1 billion today. It also invested about $37 million in ride-sharing startup Uber in 2011 during its Series B seed funding round. Since then, the company has become a household name and reaped handsome returns for the billionaire.
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Bezos’ space startup Blue Origin made waves last year as one of the first companies to travel to the edge of space, marking the first step toward the commercialization of space travel.
Bezos Bets on 2022
Since its inception in 2005, Bezos Expeditions has invested in 96 companies while exiting 17 investments. So far this year, it has invested in nine startup companies.
Overtime is a sports digital media company that distributes content through popular social media platforms such as Facebook and YouTube. The startup has over 65 million social media followers and its content is shared over 2 billion times a month. Since the company was only founded in 2016, it has charted an impressive growth trajectory in just six years.
Bezos was one of the most prominent investors in Overtime during its Series C funding, where it raised nearly $80 million. Additionally, the company raised $100 million in Series D funding and is currently valued at $500 million. Annual overtime revenue generally ranges from $50 to $100 million, thanks to the league’s massive sponsorships and digital advertising.
Overtime is currently working on the development of its premier basketball league, the Overtime League, which features athletes ages 16 to 18.
The New York-based startup aims to simplify adulthood. The app-based platform is designed to help the Gen Z population as they enter the real world with routine daily tasks related to health, finances or work. The platform had raised $3.4 million in 2021, including investment from Bezos Expeditions.
From understanding income taxes to navigating pregnancy and motherhood, Realworld currently has more than 90 books to help young adults. As Gen Z members graduate and enter the workforce, the demand for simple yet comprehensive platforms like Realworld is growing. By 2025, about 25% of the workforce will be Gen Z. While Realworld currently provides free access to its books, CEO Genevieve Ryan Bellaire is currently planning a subscription-based model for additional features or concierge support.
This is not the first time Bezos has attacked real estate. He had earlier invested in Airbnb in 2011 when it was a startup. While the exact amount of profit is unknown, Bezos is estimated to have made billions from his real estate bet.
After the commercial success of Airbnb, Bezos is now betting on the real estate investment platform Homes arrived. So far, he has made two investments in the startup, which acquires properties across North America and turns them into long- and short-term rentals and allows investors to buy shares of the properties for as little as $100. That investment is already paying off, as rental prices are rising and demand for short-term rentals is skyrocketing across the country.
Bezos Expeditions’ investments are not limited to the United States. The firm invested in Brazilian fintech startup Stark Bank during its Series B round. The fintech firm currently manages $108 million in total assets. According to Stark Bank CEO Rafael Stark, after the Series B funding, the startup is close to achieving unicorn status.
As of April 2022, the Brazilian fintech has raised nearly $58 million in seed funding since its inception in 2018. It has more than 300 clients, most of which are technology-based businesses.
Commodity tracking startup Outgo has also caught the attention of the third richest man, raising $3.4 million in its latest round of funding from various venture capital firms, including Bezos Expeditions.
According to co-founder and CEO Marcus Womack, Outgo’s total addressable market is about $400 million. With fees and charges lower than the industry, Outgo aims to exploit the discrepancies in the current supply chain system.
doxo is an all-in-one app designed for online bill payments. With several industry leading partners including AT&T Inc. and Sound Community Bank, the company is making progress in an increasingly digital world. It aims to modernize the $4.61 trillion bill payment industry in the U.S. In fact, doxo was named to Inc. magazine’s list of fastest growing companies. 5000 which was released last month.
Bezos has been associated with doxo since 2013, having been one of the first investors on the platform. He also participated in doxo’s latest Series C round in March, where the company raised $18.5 million.
In February 2022, Bezos participated in cell culture salmon startup Wildtype’s Series B funding round. The platform raised $100 million during this round and is currently on track to commercialize the farmed seafood.
The company plans to partner with fine dining restaurants across the US to offer microplastic-free salmon sushi. With wild fish populations at risk of extinction amid dwindling fish stocks, cell-farmed salmon should gain traction soon. Additionally, as sustainability concerns remain at an all-time high, Wildtype is expected to benefit significantly from the commercialization of cell cultured salmon.
The startup designs toilet paper and napkins from bamboo in an effort to reduce deforestation. The company, certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, has saved more than 10,000 trees in 2021 alone. Bezos Expeditions was one of the high-profile investors involved in Cloud Paper’s latest funding round.
The company has given promising results so far. Cloud Paper’s sales have grown 930% since its seed funding round in September 2022, driven by a 230% increase in its direct-to-consumer (D2C) base and a 400% increase in its enterprise customer base. Additionally, the startup’s revenue has grown by nearly 800% during this period.
By investing in Indonesian D2C software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform Lummo, Bezos also turned to the Southeast Asian market. The startup, which specializes in data analytics services for e-commerce platforms, is witnessing rapidly increasing demand for its flagship product LummoSHOP across South Asia.
Lummo founder and CEO Krishnan Menon said, “We are honored to have the backing of Jeff Bezos in this Series C investment round as we launch our business for exponential growth in the coming months and years. The investment will boost Lummo’s efforts to further leverage its D2C product offerings and deliver greater value to entrepreneurs and businesses in Indonesia. We hope to accelerate their business growth and maximize operational efficiency using the SaaS model.”
The majority of startups that Bezos has invested in lately cater to the Generation Z demographic. This generation greatly influences the future of modern society. With an increased focus on digital media and sustainability, Bezos’ latest investments capture key societal changes in recent years.
Read next: Top Startups to Invest in for September 2022
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