The founder of online shopping giant Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is set to officially step down on July 5 (Monday) as the company’s chief executive officer. Bezos, named the world’s richest man by Forbes magazine earlier this year, with assets worth some $189 billion, is set to quit his post to free up time for his space-travel venture, Blue Origin. Initially built as an online bookstore back in the 1990s, Amazon is now one of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world, with a market capitalization of $1.7 trillion. Bezos plans to keep his 10.3 percent stake in the company, as well as his position as executive chairman of Amazon’s board. He will hand the CEO role to Andy Jassy, who joined the e-commerce giant in 1997 and is currently leading Amazon’s cloud-computing business. Meanwhile, Bezos is set to join the first crewed flight by his space company aboard the reusable New Shepard six-seater capsule. The launch is scheduled for July 20, the anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 Moon landing. On the other hand, shares of Richard Branson’s aerospace company Virgin Galactic soared 41% overnight on news that the billionaire will be onboard the test flight scheduled for July 11, ahead of rival Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin group. Virgin Galactic’s stock price jumped to $61 per share during Friday trading on the Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange. During premarket trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the company’s stock rose by 37.3 percent to $59.33 per share. Morning trading at the St Petersburg stock exchange even had to be suspended for some 30 minutes due to increased volatility, as the shares surged by more than 20% within 10 minutes. 70-year-old Branson will become one of four members of the Virgin Galactic crew to launch on July 11 in support of his company’s commercial space travel aspirations. As ‘Astronaut 001’, he will do the job of “evaluating the customer spaceflight experience.” Branson is set to beat Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his Blue Origin group into orbit by nine days, with Bezos’ flight scheduled for July 20.