The world’s richest billionaires have lost more than $50bn (£37bn) this week as their fortunes – mostly held in tech companies – plummeted in a rout in tech stocks.
Elon Musk, the richest person on the planet, saw his fortune plummet by $25.8 billion in a single day on Thursday, according to the latest available data, as shares of his electric car company, Tesla, soared. fell 11% to their lowest since October.
Despite the drop – which is roughly equivalent to the annual salaries of 615,000 people earning the average UK salary of £31,000 – Musk remains by far the richest person in the world.
The fortune of Jeff Bezos, the world’s second richest person and the founder of Amazon, has fallen from $27.8 billion year-to-date to $164 billion, according to Bloomberg’s daily tally of fortunes of billionaires. Amazon shares have fallen by a quarter since November.
The billionaires’ paper losses come as the tech-heavy Nasdaq stock exchange in New York got off to its worst start to the year since 2008 as investors sell off ‘stay-at-home’ stocks that had performed well during the pandemic shutdowns and prepare for interest rate hikes.
“We view this as the most important earnings season for the tech space in the past decade,” Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said in a note to clients. “The street now needs to hear good news at a ‘whiteknuckle moment’ from tech leaders.”
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former CEO Steve Ballmer, along with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have each seen their fortunes plummet by more than $10 billion since the start of the year.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and chief executive of Meta (the company formerly known as Facebook), has seen his newspaper worth $15 billion or 12% since the new year, dropping it to eighth place in the wealth ranking with $110 billion. .
Zuckerberg was edged out by “Sage of Omaha” investor Warren Buffett, who moved up to sixth with an estimated $111 billion. He is the only one among the 10 richest people in the world to have made a gain so far this year, his fortune having increased by $2.4 billion.
Lo Toney, managing partner at investment firm Plexo Capital, said: “We have multi-sector investors who are moving away from technology because with a rising interest rate environment they are generally looking to other sectors which benefit from rising interest rates. – finance, insurance.
“What we’re seeing is that high interest rate environments are really punishing growth stocks, tech stocks in particular,” he told CNBC.
While billionaires may have suffered share price losses this month, the fortunes of the 10 richest people – all men – have roughly doubled since the start of the pandemic.