The Facebook CEO has lost more than half his fortune since last year.
FFor the first time since 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is not among the 10 richest people in America.
Zuckerberg has lost more than half of his fortune – a staggering $76.8 billion – since September 2021, knocking him from No. 3 on the Forbes 400 list of America’s richest people to No. 11. Worth $57.7 billion on this year’s list, which used stock prices starting Sept. 2, Zuck follows Walmart heir Jim Walton, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other tech moguls such as former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. No one in America has lost more money in the past year than Zuckerberg.
He has the stock price of Meta (formerly Facebook) to thank for breaking out of the top 10. Shares have fallen 57% since last year’s Forbes 400, which used stock prices as of September 3, 2021. Tech stocks are generally down. with the market downturn, but Meta’s fall outpaces both the Nasdaq (-9.8%) and S&P 500 (-13.5%), as well as Microsoft’s 14% drop, 25% drop % of Google-parent Alphabet and Amazon’s 27% drop.
“Facebook makes most of its money from advertising, and now it just doesn’t have that data,” says Mark Zgutowicz, analyst at Benchmark, a research and investment bank. “All of those data signals are gone, which basically means advertisers are having a hard time determining whether a campaign was successful or not.”
To compound Meta’s problem, TikTok is attracting advertisers, as well as lucrative Gen Z and Millennial users. In February, Meta reported its first-ever quarterly loss of daily active users. A recent internal report showed that Meta’s TikTok clone, Instagram Reels, is struggling to compete, according to a the wall street journal report.
Under normal circumstances, a slight decline in revenue might be manageable, but Meta also invests heavily in VR and the Metaverse, which weighs on operating profit. In 2021, the company’s metaverse division, Meta Reality Labs, lost $10 billion. While the metaverse is all Zuckerberg wants to talk about, investors are less enthusiastic so far. “It’s a long-term investment and right now it’s kind of a waste of money,” Zgutowicz says.
Zuckerberg became a billionaire for the first time in 2008, just four years after founding Facebook. At 23, he was the youngest self-made billionaire at the time, debuting at No. 321 on The $1.5 billion Forbes 400. By 2011, Zuckerberg’s net worth had increased nearly 12 times to $17.5 billion.
This year isn’t the first time Zuckerberg’s net worth has plunged. After Facebook’s disappointing IPO in 2012, Zuckerberg rose from No. 14 to No. 36 on The Forbes 400. But that didn’t last long. The following year, Zuckerberg bounced back, and so far his fortunes have continued to climb. Despite the litany of controversies and scandals plaguing the company, Facebook’s advertising machine has reliably produced enough money to impress investors, boosting Zuckerberg’s net worth to $134.5 billion the year last, his highest net worth ever.
Where will he be next year? Almost all of Zuckerberg’s wealth is tied to stock Meta, according to Forbes‘, which means he’s betting the company’s long-term prospects – and its enormous fortune – on the metaverse. It remains to be seen if he can overcome the initial stumbles. When Zuckerberg posted a selfie to Meta’s new VR social network, Horizon Worlds, last month, he was universally mocked. He later admitted that the pic was “pretty basic” and promised major graphics updates soon. Meta stock is down 8% since then.
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