Amazon is one of the most well-known companies in the world, and, subsequently, one of the largest. Since the company is what’s known as “public,” its ownership is distributed among anyone who happens to hold shares of it, meaning that millions of people probably own Amazon either directly or indirectly. Still, there are some individuals and institutions that hold the most shares of the company, making them the largest percentage owners of Amazon. Today, we are going to take a look at those institutions and individuals to see: Who actually owns Amazon stock? The answer? Probably not that surprising. Let’s get started.
Who Owns Amazon Stock?
Amazon is one of the world’s largest companies, having cleared $1.88 trillion in July 2021 (yes, trillion with a t). In accordance with the dismal year that most other companies have had, Amazon isn’t worth as much as it once was, although it’s still floating right around the $1 trillion mark (in total market capitalization) right now. With so much value sitting in company ownership, owning large portions of Amazon becomes harder and harder, mostly making high-percentage ownership of Amazon something that only founders and the largest institutions in the world can attain. As the data shows, that’s exactly the case.
Currently, Amazon’s largest individual shareholder is a man named Jeff Bezos (ever heard of him?). Bezos founded the company back in 1994 in Bellvue, Washington, and originally sold books through its online marketplace. Jeff Bezos currently owns around 9.73% of all outstanding shares, although this number is likely to fluctuate as time goes on. Outside of Bezos, other individuals don’t really compare and are more drops in the bucket. It’s important to note, however, that Bezos operated as the founder and CEO until the reigns were handed over to Andy Jassy in July 2021, meaning Bezos is the largest shareholder but doesn’t control the company from the inside anymore (although he’s still on the board).
Another important note for Bezos’ Amazon ownership is his divorce back in 2019. After the split, his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, was given 25% of his Amazon shares since she helped found the company alongside him (instantly making her one of the richest women in the world).
Institutional Ownership of Amazon
For most large, publically traded companies, individual owners in large companies are quite rare and are mostly restricted to founders. When a company goes public, the shares that the founder is given are held even as the company grows and the share price increases. Outside of founders, institutional investors are usually the largest owners in companies, especially regarding Amazon. Currently, institutional ownership accounts for 59.83% of all outstanding shares, making them the largest type of shareholder (CNN – Money)
For the Internet Retail industry, Amazon has higher institutional ownership than most of its competitors. The reason? Well, it probably has something to do with the individual share price that Amazon commanded for such a long time. Amazon recently had a stock split of 20-for-1, meaning the price was divided by 20, and the outstanding shares were multiplied by 20 (the result makes each share cheaper, there are just more of them). With the current price of Amazon sitting around $90, that would make each share cost around $1,800 unadjusted. In late 2021, that share price would have been around $3,700.
For individual investors not associated with a large institution, spending nearly $4k on a single share simply isn’t feasible. This probably isn’t the only reason that institutional investors have so much ownership, but it is likely one of the biggest.
Breaking Down Ownership by the Numbers
Now that we understand the difference between institutional and individual ownership as it relates to Amazon, let’s look at some of the details regarding the exact companies and people that have a large share.
As we’ve mentioned, Jeff Bezos has, by far, the largest percentage ownership of Amazon of any individual. In fact, he has enough ownership to rival even the largest institutional investors. This massive share makes him incredibly wealthy and also gives him a big say in how the company is run. Here’s Bezos, plus the two nearest individuals, charted out (via Wall Street Zen and Investopedia):
|Individual||Percentage Stake||Current Value (Dec. 8th, 2022)|
|Jeff Bezos||9.73% (~992 million shares)||$87.60 billion|
|Andrew Jassey||0.02% (~1.9 million shares)||$169 million|
|Jeffery Blackburn||0.01% (~1 million shares)||$89 million|
Outside of Bezos, the rest of the major holders are all institutional in nature. There are 5.8 billion shares held by institutional investors, giving them nearly 60% of the total ownership. The usual big names are all on the list, including Blackrock, Vanguard, and other well-known holders. Here’s the breakdown (via Wall Street Zen):
|Institution||Percentage Stake||Total Shares||Current Value|
|Vanguard Group Inc||6.88%||701,550,877||$61.91B|
|State Street Corp||3.23%||329,849,003||$29.11B|
|Price T Rowe Associates Inc||2.77%||282,601,501||$24.94B|
|Geode Capital Management LLC||1.55%||157,659,175||$13.91B|
|Capital Research Global Investors||1.03%||105,050,354||$9.27B|
|JPMorgan Chase Co||0.99%||100,509,386||$8.87B|
Overall, Amazon ownership reflects what most large companies do, meaning they have a founder figure with large holdings, a few smaller insider employees with a fraction of the holdings, and the rest is majority held by large and well-known institutions. Here are a few important things to remember:
- Jeff Bezos is the largest shareholder of Amazon, with a current stake of 9.73%. The nearest secondary individual shareholder is Andy Jassey, the current CEO of the company. Jassey holds .02% of the company.
- The largest institutional investors are Vanguard, Blackrock, and State Street Corp who own 6.88%, 5.71%, and 3.23%, respectively. Overall, institutions own around 60% of the total outstanding shares, which is higher than other online retail competitors.
- The institutional investorship is partly the result of an incredibly high share price, making it tough for retail investors to enter the market.
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