Mark Zuckerberg’s $71 Billion Wealth Wipeout Focuses on Meta Struggle


It was less than two years ago when Mark Zuckerberg, 38, was worth $106 billion. (File)

Mark Zuckerberg’s pivot in the metaverse has cost him dearly in the real world.

Even in a difficult year for just about every American tech titan, the wealth erased from the chief executive officer of Meta Platforms Inc. on. His fortune has halved and then some, falling $71 billion so far this year, most of the ultra-wealthy tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. At $55.9 billion, his net worth ranks 20th among global billionaires, his lowest since 2014 and behind three Waltons and two members of the Koch family.

It was less than two years ago when Zuckerberg, 38, was worth $106 billion and belonged to an elite group of global billionaires, with only Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates owning larger fortunes. His net worth grew to a high of $142 billion in September 2021, when the company’s stock peaked at $382.

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The following month, Zuckerberg introduced Meta and changed the company’s name from Facebook Inc. And from then on it went downhill for the most part as it struggles to gain a foothold in the tech universe.

Recent earnings reports have been bleak. It started in February, when the company showed no growth in monthly Facebook users, leading to a historic stock price collapse and Zuckerberg’s $31 billion fortune, one of the largest single-day wealth drops ever. Other issues include Instagram’s bet on Reels – the answer to TikTok’s short video platform – although it is worth less in ad revenue, while the industry in general is hit by lower marketing spend due to concerns about an economic slowdown. .

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The stock is also being dragged down by the company’s investments in the metaverse, said Laura Martin, senior internet analyst at Needham & Co. Zuckerberg has said he expects the project to lose “significant” amounts of money over the next three to five years.

In the meantime, Meta needs to “get these users back from TikTok,” Martin said. It is also hampered by “excessive regulatory scrutiny and intervention,” she said.

The Menlo Park, California-based company will outperform most of its FAANG peers in 2022. It is down about 57% this year, much more than the 14% declines for Apple Inc., 26% for Inc. and 29% for Google parent Alphabet Inc. In fact, Meta is closing the gap in 2022 losses with Netflix Inc. ., which is about 60% lower.

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Without its pursuit of virtual reality, the social media giant would be “more aligned with where Alphabet is,” said Mandeep Singh, technology analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. Meta could get around this problem by divesting some of its other businesses, such as WhatsApp or Instagram, he said.

Almost all of Zuckerberg’s wealth is tied up in Meta stocks. According to the company’s latest proxy statement, he owns more than 350 million shares. The price had changed little at $146.18 at 12:22 p.m. in New York.

Zuckerberg has tried some sort of rebranding. He recently uploaded a video of him practicing mixed martial arts and repeatedly called himself a “product designer” in a three-hour conversation on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

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