The 20 richest tech billionaires have collectively lost nearly half a trillion dollars this year amid the stock market’s sharp tumble, a loss of wealth that is more than the market values of all but seven companies in the S&P 500.
The world’s richest tech moguls—including Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Larry Ellison—have seen more than $480 billion in paper wealth disappear this year through Thursday, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the richest people in the world. Disappointing earnings reports from a slew of tech giants this week have stoked recession fears, pushed stock prices lower and weighed on the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest people.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s net worth fell by $11.2 billion alone on Thursday, according to the ranking. Shares of his company, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.,
lost a quarter of their value after a disappointing earnings report spooked investors. The company’s revenue slowed for a second straight quarter and losses tied to its big bet on the metaverse swelled.
So far this year, the wealth of Meta’s chief executive has fallen by more than $87 billion. That leaves him with a current net worth of $37.7 billion, good for the 28th richest person in the world, according to the index. By comparison, he was among the top 10 earlier this year.
Tech companies, which enjoyed strong growth at the beginning of the pandemic, are now feeling the pain of high inflation, rising interest rates and slowing digital advertising growth. Many companies are now controlling costs, monitoring head count or even laying off staff. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite has fallen by 29% this year through Friday’s close.
For many executives and founders, their net worth is at least partially tied up in shares of their businesses. That means big swings in their companies’ stock prices can have profound impacts on measures of wealth.
Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com Inc.,
have each seen more than $58 billion in wealth wiped away this year. Both entrepreneurs have jockeyed in the past for the bragging rights of being the world’s richest person before Mr. Musk pulled away with a sizable lead.
Mr. Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc.,
also runs rocket company SpaceX. He founded Boring Co., an underground tunnel business, as well as neuroscience startup Neuralink Corp. And this week, he completed his on-again, off-again takeover of Twitter Inc. and will take the social media company private. Mr. Musk is currently worth $212 billion.
The wealth of Mr. Bezos, meanwhile, is valued at $134 billion. Amazon’s shares fell 7% on Friday as Wall Street was disappointed with the company’s sales forecast for the current quarter, which fell short of analysts’ expectations.
Google parent Alphabet Inc. co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who are among the 10 richest people in the world, have also seen their net worth dented. They have each lost more than $40 billion in paper wealth this year, with both taking a hit this week after Alphabet reported its first-ever drop in YouTube year-over-year ad sales.
Most of the richest tech entrepreneurs are a who’s who of American tech tycoons, but a few are from outside the US Jack Ma, for instance, built his e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. from scratch into one of China’s largest business empires. He has lost $9.3 billion in wealth this year, according to the index, and currently has a net worth of $29.1 billion.
The only woman among the top 20 richest tech moguls is MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist who built her fortune creating Amazon with her now ex-husband, Mr. Bezos. More than $29 billion disappeared from her net worth this year, although that can be attributed in part to the hefty checks she has been cutting. She has pledged to give away—and has already donated—billions of dollars to organizations, including food banks, Girl Scouts of the USA and historically Black colleges and universities.
Of the 20 richest tech billionaires, only two have added money to their bottom lines since Jan. 1, according to the index. The wealth of Zhang Yiming, the founder of TikTok’s owner ByteDance Ltd., has risen by $10.4 billion and he is now currently worth $54.9 billion. Robert Pera, the founder of wireless equipment maker Ubiquiti Inc.
and owner of the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies, has seen his wealth go up to $1.3 billion, giving him a net worth of $14.7 billion.
The paper losses for many of the world’s biggest tech moguls come after the collective wealth of billionaires grew more during the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic than between 1987 and 2010, the antipoverty group Oxfam International reported earlier this year.
In the early months of the pandemic, Oxfam reported, a new billionaire was created every 30 hours.
Write to Alyssa Lukpat at [email protected]
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