The CEO sold according to a pre-determined schedule

By Aaron Pressman
May 6, 2016

Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos sold one million shares of his holdings in the company for $671 million this week, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. That’s the most money Bezos has ever raised in a sale of his Amazon holdings, according to the web site Geekwire.

By selling this week, after Amazon’s blow out April 28 earnings report, Bezos benefited from the big run up in Amazon’s stock price. Amazon shares gained as much as 13% in the two days after the earnings report showed revenue had jumped 28% in the first quarter and profit hit $513 million from a loss of $57 million a year earlier. The stock price has since fallen back a bit, but remains 9% higher than before the quarterly report.

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The timing of the sales, however, was predetermined by a so-called 10b5-1 plan, named after an SEC regulation which allows company insiders to avoid insider trading charges by setting up a schedule of sales in advance. In theory, had Amazon amzn reported a disappointing quarter and the stock price dropped, Bezos still would have sold one million shares under his previously established plan.

The sales took place on May 3, May 4, and May 5 at prices between $662.48 and $680.05.

Bezos, who famously started the e-commerce giant in 1994 after quitting a job on Wall Street and moving across the country, still owns almost 82 million shares, according to the filing, or about 17% of the company. Those shares are worth over $54 billion at Amazon’s stock price of around $661 on Friday.

Like his peer tech billionaires, Bezos has many other interests besides the company he started that could use some or all of the $671 million, such as his Blue Origin space company and the Washington Post newspaper.

In addition to the sales, Bezos also made three gifts totaling almost 4,000 shares, according to the filing. Two were given to unnamed non-profit organizations, and no information was disclosed about the third recipient.

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