Bezos’s billions, ‘honesty markets’ and celebrity pay days

Planet Business: Dark sunglasses time this week as the Brexit crisis somehow got worse

In numbers: Bezos's billions

$150 billion

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos now has more than this much money, making him the richest person in modern history, according to Forbes magazine.

$55 billion


Gap in wealth between Bezos and the second-richest man, Bill Gates. Bezos likes to spend his money on space travel, while the Microsoft founder is the more active philanthropist (substantially so) here on Earth.


Median pay for Amazon employees last year, company filings show, meaning half its employees earned less than this. The retail giant has been criticised for not paying its warehouse workers a living wage.

Image of the week: Shades of May

Amid unfolding Brexit chaos, the British prime minister at the time of writing had a brief stopover at the Farnborough International Airshow on Monday, donning sunglasses to watch a flypast of fighter jets, seemingly enjoying the company of astronaut Tim Peake and promising to invest in spaceports in Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. Then it was back to the febrile environment of Westminster, where a mood of anger had erupted prior of a series of votes on the Brexit White Paper.  This was supposed to herald the end to British faffing about ahead of negotiations with the European Union, but instead seems to have marked nothing more than the next cycle of Conservative infighting, backsliding and illogical compromises. A bid to take an early parliamentary recess was aborted. Maybe time for a permanent break before the blame starts to stick?

The lexicon: Honesty market

Honesty boxes and stations work on the principle that when asked to slot in a coin in exchange for a low-value item, most people will do it, either because they’re honest, they’re secretly convinced that someone somewhere is watching them, or both. But at “co-working” company WeWork, aka a renter of shared office space, they like the idea of an entire “honesty market”. In some of its buildings, a 24-hours self-service food and drink shop works on an honour principle, where workers pay for sustenance using an app, a barcode scanner and optional paranoia. But under a new anti-meat policy at the New York-headquartered company, red meat, poultry and pork have been taken off the company’s menu, expenses policy and honesty market shelves. Carnivores who want to eat meat at their desk will have to bring their own.

Getting to know: Patrick Spence

Patrick Spence is a Blackberry survivor. The one-time vice-president of global sales for former Blackberry device-maker Research in Motion exited the company in 2012, right before the going really got rough, to join Sonos, the high-end speaker manufacturer. The proud Canadian is now the chief executive of the Californian company. The spotlight has been on Sonos of late because it's gearing up for a stock-market flotation, and it's doing so at a time when the industry has lurched definitively towards voice activation. This makes Sonos dependent on its partnerships with the likes of Amazon as well as music streaming platforms, but Spence says it has no plans to develop streaming or voice services of its own. His Twitter feed shows his concerns range from saving US net neutrality – the principle whereby broadband providers must treat all online content equally – to voicing opposition to Trump's immigrant family separation policy.

The list: Celebrity pay-days

Forbes has totted up the pretax earnings of the world’s highest-paid “front-of-camera” stars from the year to the end of May, making sure to deduct fees for those pesky managers, lawyers and agents. This lot collected the biggest bonanzas.

5: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. He's "the dude who started with $7 bucks" he tweeted, but now he's the "grateful" wrestler-turned-actor who took home $124 million last year.

4: Judy Sheindlin. That's Judge Judy to you. The TV star's earnings were estimated at $147 million for last year, when she sold her extensive archive of shows for about $100 million.

3: Kylie Jenner. The 20-year-old member of the Jenner-Kardashian family collected $166.5 million last year from cosmetics. She's on track to become the world's youngest billionaire.

2: George Clooney. It's all round to George's to toast his $239 million earnings, most of which comes from selling Casamigos, the tequila company he co-founded to Diageo, delivering the highest annual take-home pay of his or any other actor's career.

1: Floyd Mayweather. The boxer raked in $285 million last year, almost entirely from his August fight against 12th-placed Putin-fan Conor McGregor.