Who Owns Amazon: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Article Teaser: Who Owns Amazon: The Largest Shareholders Overview

Amazon (AMZN) is a formidable company. It started as an e-commerce business selling stuff online, but it hardly made any money this way. Amazon makes money mainly by helping businesses sell goods online and providing cloud resources and tools. But do you know who Amazon’s largest shareholders are and who controls the voting power?

The largest shareholder of Amazon.com, Inc. is its founder Jeff Bezos, with a 10% ownership share, followed by Vanguard (7%) and BlackRock (6%). Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife MacKenzie Scott owns 3% of the company. However, Jeff Bezos exercises all voting power of her stake.

 Amazon's Largest Shareholders (Dec 2021)
Shareholder Ownership Voting Power
Jeff Bezos 9.8% 12.7%
Vanguard 6.6% 6.6%
BlackRock 5.7% 5.7%
MacKenzie Scott 2.9% 0.0%
Other 75.0% 75.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

Amazon largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart) Amazon largest shareholders by share ownership and vote control (donut chart)

As you can see from the table and visuals above, the top shareholder of Amazon is its founder Jeff Bezos. His stake is gradually decreasing throughout the years. The reason is that he is selling stocks to fund his other projects, and in 2019 his stake dropped due to his divorce.

As part of MacKenzie and Jeff’s divorce in 2019, they agreed that from Jeff’s 16% stake at the time, MacKenzie would get 4%, and Jeff would be left with 12% and all voting power. That means Jeff would keep all voting rights, even for McKenzie’s stake, until she sells them.

Jeff’s ownership percentage is lower than his voting power because his voting power also includes MacKenzie’s votes. This will continue to be true until is ex-wife decides to sell those stocks.

In this article, I will dive more into who Amazon’s largest shareholders are, how many shares and votes they have, and how much their stake is worth. I will also explore some other topics related to its ownership structure.

If you are interested, you can also check my older article with visual overview of Amazon’s financial statements.

You can also explore who are the largest shareholders in other technology companies like Apple, Meta(Facebook), Microsoft, or Alphabet(Google).

🕹️ Who Owns Amazon (AMZN) and Who Has Control?

The chart below shows both the ownership and voting power of the largest shareholders of Amazon. As you can see, ownership share equals voting power, except that Jeff controls voting power for the shares owned by his ex-wife MacKenzie.

Amazon largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Unlike other technology companies like Google or Facebook, Amazon has only one class of shares. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos does not hold any special super-voting shares.

Despite Jeff Bezos not holding the majority of votes, he has outsized influence over Amazon. His leadership earned him strong credibility over the years.

When Amazon went public in 1997, Jeff Bezos’ share was 41%. On top of that, his family owned another 10% through several trusts.

  • Jeff Bezos’ parents were early investors. They invested $245,573 in Amazon in 1995, which made them billionaires. It is unclear how many shares, if any, the Bezos family holds as of now.

🗳️ Breakdown of Amazon’s Outstanding Shares and Votes by Top Shareholders

Amazon.com, Inc. had a total of 509 million outstanding shares as of December 2021. The following table shows how many shares each Amazon’s large shareholder holds.

 Amazon's Outstanding Shares by Shareholder
In millions of shares as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Jeff Bezos 50 50 9.8%
Vanguard 33 33 6.6%
BlackRock 29 29 5.7%
MacKenzie Scott 15 15 2.9%
Other 382 382 75.0%
Total (# millions) 509 509 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

There were 509 million votes distributed among shareholders of Amazon.com, Inc.. The table below shows the total number of votes for each large shareholder.

 Amazon's Vote Control by Shareholder
In millions of votes as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Proxy Total % Share
Jeff Bezos 50 15 65 12.7%
Vanguard 33 - 33 6.6%
BlackRock 29 - 29 5.7%
MacKenzie Scott 15 -15 - 0.0%
Other 382 - 382 75.0%
Total (# millions) 509 - 509 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

You can see that there is no difference between shares and votes, since Amazon have only one class of shares and every share has the same rights, expect for a voting power related to McKenzie Scott shares which are held by Jeff Bezos.

💵 Breakdown of Amazon’s Market Value by Shareholder

The following table summarizes how much is each shareholder’s stake in Amazon.com, Inc. worth.

However, keep in mind that a stake in Amazon could be just one part of their portfolio, and their total worth could be bigger, thanks to other investments. It could also be lower if they have debts.

 Amazon's Market Value by Shareholder
Market value in billions $ as of December 2021
Shareholder Class A Total % Share
Jeff Bezos $167 $167 9.8%
Vanguard $111 $111 6.6%
BlackRock $96 $96 5.7%
MacKenzie Scott $50 $50 2.9%
Other $1,274 $1,274 75.0%
Total ($ billions) $1,697 $1,697 100.0%
Listed are shareholders holding >5% of any share class or notable in other ways
   Source: Multiple SEC filings

Let’s now look at each Amazon shareholder individually.

📒 Who Are the Largest Shareholders of Amazon.com, Inc.

Let’s now go through the list of the largest shareholders of Amazon.com, Inc. one by one and look at who they are, how many shares they own, what is their voting power, and how much is their stake in Amazon worth.

#1 Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos holds 10% of Amazon’s shares which makes him its largest shareholder. However, because he exercises voting power also for shares owned by his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, his share of total votes is 13%.

Amazon largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Jeff Bezos owns 50 million Amazon shares, representing 65 million shareholder votes. The market value of Jeff Bezos’s stake in Amazon was $167 billion as of December 2021.

Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon and was also CEO of the company until 2021, when he stepped down. He is still the Executive Chairman of Amazon’s board and the largest individual shareholder.

Bezos founded Amazon in 1994. Initially, Amazon was selling only books, but it has quickly expanded into other categories and became an “everything store,” which turned it into a household name.

Bezos is also the founder of the aerospace company Blue Origin which was able to reach space in 2015.

He owns The Washington Post, which he bought in 2013 and made it profitable.

He also invested in many other companies through his venture capital firm Bezos Expeditions.

#2 Vanguard

Vanguard holds 7% of Amazon’s shares which makes it its second-largest shareholder.

Amazon largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

Vanguard owns 33 million Amazon shares, representing 33 million shareholder votes. The market value of Vanguard’s stake in Amazon was $111 billion as of December 2021.

Vanguard (The Vanguard Group) is one of the largest asset managers in the world. It manages other people’s money through its mutual funds and exchange-traded funds and also offers other related investing and financial planning services.

Vanguard differs from other large asset managers by having no actual “owner .” Officially Vanguard says that its investors own it since its funds own it, and Vanguard fund investors own those funds.

However, the actual decision power is in the hands of Vanguard’s insiders since the ownership is diluted over millions of investors worldwide.

Vanguard has significant influence over the largest public companies. Thanks to its size, Vanguard usually belongs to the largest shareholders in those companies and has considerable power at their shareholder meetings. This is especially true if ownership is diluted.

Vanguard representatives make the calls about which shareholder proposal to support or not, even though Vanguard is not the ultimate owner of those stocks and they belong to their clients.

It means that just a few people in charge of the largest asset managers have significant sway over many publicly traded companies. They are usually the median investors that can push or kill many proposals. As passive investing became more popular and the asset management market more concentrated, this became quite a concerning issue.

  • Several terms were coined to describe this issue. Some call it asset manager capitalism, and popular is also the power of twelve. Financial Times even put together who exactly those twelve people might be.

  • Vanguard and other large fund managers are trying to address those concerns by having public policies describing how they are exercising their voting power. But as you can imagine, this is still a situation full of conflicts of interest.
  • Evidence shows that big asset managers usually vote together with management.

#3 BlackRock

BlackRock holds 6% of Amazon’s shares which makes it its third-largest shareholder.

Amazon largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

BlackRock owns 29 million Amazon shares, representing 29 million shareholder votes. The market value of BlackRock’s stake in Amazon was $96 billion as of December 2021.

BlackRock, Inc. is the world’s largest asset manager, with assets under management of $10 trillion. BlackRock is not only an asset manager, but it also provides other asset managers and corporations with its Aladdin portfolio management software.

BlackRock is a publicly traded company, and its largest shareholders are its competitors, including BlackRock itself. Not directly but through their passive and active funds. The largest shareholder is Vanguard.

A similar situation is also true in the opposite direction because BlackRock is a significant shareholder in many of its publicly traded competitors and other large institutions, making the whole thing even more eyebrow-raising.

This circular ownership between Vanguard, BlackRock, and other large asset managers, amplifies the issue often raised about the power of these large asset managers over public companies since they usually belong to the most significant shareholders.

  • BlackRock and other large asset managers do not invest their own money, but they have significant voting power that, in most cases, is not passed through to the underlying investors. Therefore, BlackRock itself and its representatives have significant sway over decisions in those companies.

  • In the case of Blackrock, this influence is personified in the form of its CEO Larry Fink, who is a powerful figure with close ties in the FED and US government.

  • Adding to these concerns is evidence that BlackRock and other asset managers usually vote in favor of management proposals.

  • Recently, large asset managers started to be more sympathetic to different climate and environmental-related proposals and even supported activists that went against the management’s wishes. BlackRock was particularly aggressive in this change. Another proof of the power these companies have.

#4 MacKenzie Scott

MacKenzie Scott holds 3% of Amazon’s shares. However, she has no voting power since, as part of her divorce from Jeff Bezos, they agreed that Jeff would exercise voting power for her stake.

Amazon largest shareholders share ownership vs vote control chart

MacKenzie Scott owns 15 million Amazon shares, representing 0 million shareholder votes. The market value of MacKenzie Scott’s stake in Amazon was $50 billion as of December 2021.

MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos) is a novelist and is currently mainly a philanthropist. She is the former wife of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon. She was one of Amazon’s early employees and, after her divorce, was the sole owner of 4% of Amazon, Inc.

After the divorce, she did not waste any time and joined the Giving Pledge and started working towards donating the majority of her wealth to various non-profit organizations.

❔ Who Founded Amazon With Jeff Bezos?

Jeff Bezos did not have an official “co-founder,” but his former wife, MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos), came pretty close. They married shortly before Amazon was founded, and MacKenzie was one of the early employees and helped there in many roles.

Altough, as the company grew bigger, she became less active in the day-to-day operations.

Today, after their divorce, she is the second largest individual shareholder in Amazon, although she holds no voting rights to her stake.

Jeff had help not only from his wife but also from other parts of his family. Let’s remember that family was a significant source of his startup capital. Especially his parents, who invested $245,573 in 1995.

At the time of Amazon’s IPO in 1997, Bezos’s family stake was 10%, and Jeff had 41%.

Amazon’s Financial Statements: Overview & Analysis
Older overview and analysis of Amazon’s financial statements from its annual report with financial statement visualizations. The first part of the article also includes my take on what Amazon’s business model is about.

Who Really Owns Google (Alphabet) and Who Controls It
Overview of who owns Alphabet (Google) and who controls it. With a list of the largest shareholders and how much is each of their stake worth.

Who Owns Microsoft: The Largest Shareholders Overview
Overview of who owns Microsoft and who controls it. With a list of the largest shareholders and how much is each of their stake worth.

Other Resources

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