Jeff Bezos is already the world's wealthiest person by a healthy margin and he's the founder and CEO of one of the world's few trillion-dollar companies.
But before this decade is over, one extremely optimistic estimate projects that the Amazon CEO could also become worth $1 trillion all by himself. That's according to an analysis from Comparisun, a content platform that serves small- and medium-sized businesses.
Comparisun predicts that Bezos will become the world's first trillionaire by 2026, according to the firm's new study, which looks at the average annual growth of the billionaire's net worth over the past five years.
Bezos is currently worth $143 billion, according to Bloomberg, and Comparisun calculated that the Amazon CEO's net worth has increased by an average of about 34% in each of the past five years.
Bezos' wealth has continued to grow steadily, even with ex wife MacKenzie getting roughly $38 billion of his Amazon stake as part of his 2019 divorce settlement. Overall, Bezos' net worth has more than doubled since 2015, when it was around $63 billion, according to Bloomberg.
If that pace of 34% annual growth continues, Comparisun says, then Bezos' total net worth could top the $1 trillion mark before the end of 2026, at which point he'll be 62.
However, the likelihood of Bezos actually continuing to grow his vast personal fortune at such an astounding pace is probably fairly slim.
RBC Capital Markets tech analyst Mark Mahaney was brief in his reaction to the optimistic projection by Comparisun:
"Put me down as skeptical," Mahaney told CNBC Make It in an email.
That skepticism is fair, considering that Comparisun's projections assume that Bezos' net worth will continue to grow apace with its recent trajectory, which has already made him the wealthiest person in modern history. Continuing on that pace would be a tall order for anyone, or any company.
After all, while Amazon's business has thrived, so far, during the current economic crisis and coronavirus pandemic — boosting Bezos' personal net worth in the process — a major economic downturn could still potentially alter his fortunes at some point in the next few years.
Mahaney is far from the only person who is skeptical that Bezos' and Amazon's recent success can accurately predict their future performance. Vox notes that Comparisun's projection "makes a lot of assumptions," most notably that Amazon's incredibly strong performance over the past decade — which has fueled Bezos' net worth growth — can continue at the same strong pace for several more years, even as the American economy embarks on what is expected to be a downturn that could last several years.
Of course, Amazon has fared much better than many other companies in recent months amid the pandemic and resulting economic crisis. For instance, Facebook's stock price is down slightly from the start of 2020, while Amazon's is up by roughly 25% since the beginning of the year as retail closures and stay-at-home orders have resulted in an uptick in online orders for the e-commerce giant.
Because the bulk of Bezos' personal wealth is tied to his more than 50 million shares of Amazon stock, the company's booming business also continues to boost his own personal fortune. But that's far from a guarantee that his net worth will continue to enjoy 34% annual growth over the next several years.
In 2018, CNBC's Robert Frank noted that Amazon would need to reach a share price of more than $12,600 per share (the company is around $2,377 per share as of Friday) in order for Bezos to reach a net worth of $1 trillion, due to the fact that his own wealth is so closely tied to the company's market value. And that was even before Bezos' Amazon shares shrunk somewhat due to his divorce and various Amazon stock sales he's used to fund his space exploration company, Blue Origin.
With Bezos' current Amazon stake equal to roughly 11% of the company, Amazon would need to reach a market value of nearly $11 trillion by 2026 in order to make its founder a trillionaire in line with Comparisun's projection.
Two years ago, Frank noted that it "may seem implausible or far-fetched" that Amazon could reach such heights. But, he added, "so was the idea of a $1 trillion Amazon" not too long ago.
Comparisun did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment.
Regardless, Comparisun's projection is still worth noting, if only because it shows just how wealthy the world's wealthiest person could be if his remarkable recent run were to continue, relatively unchecked, for several more years. Bezos may not really become a trillionaire by 2026, but the fact that his current trajectory could put him near that mark helps to highlight just how rapidly he has managed to accumulate even more massive wealth over the past five years.
Meanwhile, Comparisun's prediction has been met with some backlash online from people who are offended at the idea that Bezos' wealth continues to increase even as the economy suffers and tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs over the past two months.
Many critics took to Twitter on Thursday to voice their displeasure at the fact that Bezos' wealth could continue to grow exponentially while so many others suffer, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who called Bezos' path to trillionaire status "immoral" and reiterated criticism of Amazon's treatment of its warehouse workers.
Bezos and Amazon have faced criticism over the company's recent decision to end its unlimited unpaid time off policy for workers. Former Amazon Web Services vice president Tim Bray resigned earlier this month over Amazon's decision to fire workers who openly criticized the company's labor practices, and Amazon warehouse workers have expressed frustration over the company's handling of the coronavirus threat at the workplace.
Amazon did not immediately respond to CNBC Make It's request for comment, though the company has recently noted that Amazon has spent nearly $800 million on increased wages amid the coronavirus pandemic and the company plans to invest roughly $4 billion of second-quarter profit in increased wages as well as coronavirus testing capabilities and personal protective equipment for workers.