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Bezos’ Steady Selling Leaves Amazon Vulnerable

In popular imagination, Amazon.com ranks alongside Google and Facebook as a tech giant able to make long-term bets by virtue of a founder who controls the company and a cash-spewing core business. In reality, however, Amazon has never spewed that much cash, and its founder has been slowly liquidating his stake.

Since taking the company public in 1997, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos’s shareholdings have dropped to 18.1 percent from 41 percent, largely because he’s been selling shares steadily. If he keeps up the current pace of selling, Amazon will become vulnerable to an activist investor unhappy with the blizzard of costly initiatives Mr. Bezos has undertaken.

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Thursday’s earnings could change sentiment quickly, of course. But if investor attitudes don’t improve, then Mr. Bezos may eventually wish he had held onto some of that stock.

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Joe Lonsdale
Joe Lonsdale
Founding Partner, Eight
Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder & Managing Partner, SocialCapital
Tina Sharkey
Tina Sharkey
CEO, Brandless
Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti
CEO, Buzzfeed
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Adam D'Angelo
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Brit Morin
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Max Levchin
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James Murdoch
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Andrew Kortina
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Ben Chestnut
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Ruchi Sanghvi
Ruchi Sanghvi
VP Operations, Dropbox
It would be easier to feel comfortable that Mr. Bezos had the long term interests of his shareholders in mind if he wasn’t so steadily reducing his personal exposure to the stock.