Jeff Bezos shared a note from a couple that bought 2 shares of Amazon in 1997 – and are now using the proceeds to buy a house after the company’s 172,499% post-IPO run

Amazon Jeff Bezos
  • Jeff Bezos shared a note from a couple who bought two shares of Amazon in 1997 in his recent shareholder letter.
  • It’s not specified when the purchase occurred. But if the couple bought shares at the closing price on Amazon’s IPO day, it’s made 172,499%, according to data compiled by Insider.
  • Their son is now selling some of the stock to help purchase a home. The shares have grown in value to more than $80,000.
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In 1997, a couple bought two shares of a new book-selling company for their 12-year-old son. For the years following the purchase, the son wanted to cash in the stock, but the parents insisted he hold.

24 years later, that online book retailer has become one of the largest corporations in the world, and the family has seen a likely six-digit return on their investment.

The couple told their story to Jeff Bezos just as the Amazon founder was sitting down to write his final letter to shareholders as CEO.

In Bezos’ letter published Thursday, he included a copy of the letter from the couple, Mary and Larry, whose surnames were blocked out for privacy.

The letter blurred out the exact date Mary and Larry bought the shares, but detailed how they bought two shares of Amazon in 1997, because that’s all they could afford at the time. The stock split three times within the next two years, leaving the family with 24 shares.

The split-adjusted percentage increase from the close on Amazon’s IPO day to Thursday’s close is 172,449%. That means the family’s 24 shares are now worth roughly $81,098, according to data compiled by Insider.

This year, Mary and Larry’s son Ryan is buying a house and will sell some of the shares to fund the purchase. When Ryan sells the shares, he’ll need to convert the paper shares into digital before selling, Mary and Larry said.

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“Those two shares have had a wonderful influence on our family,” said Mary and Larry. “We all enjoyed watching Amazon value grow year after year and it’s a story we love to tell others.”

At the end of the letter they signed: “P.S. We wished we had bought 10 shares!”

The Amazon CEO said that he’s approached with similar stories all the time.

“I know people who’ve used their Amazon money for college, for emergencies, for houses, for vacations, to start their own business, for charity – and the list goes on,” Bezos wrote. “I’m proud of the wealth we’ve created for shareowners. It’s significant, and it improves their lives.”

According to Bezos, Amazon has created $1.6 trillion of wealth for their shareowners. One of the largest beneficiaries has been Bezos himself, who owns $180 billion of Amazon and is the richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg.

Bezos said that his Amazon shares have made him wealthy, but seventh-eighths of the shares, representing $1.4 trillion of wealth creation, are owned by other investors, including pension funds, universities, 401ks, and couples like Mary and Larry.

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