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The World’s 25 Richest Billionaires Have Gained Nearly $255 Billion In Just Two Months

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THE CHANGING FORTUNES OF THE WORLD’S RICHEST

The super rich are a whole lot richer than they were two months ago. Twenty five of the wealthiest people on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires are worth a whopping $255 billion more than when the U.S. stock market hit a mid-pandemic low on March 23. 

Together these 25 folks–Forbes looked at just those on the list with fortunes tied to public stocks–are worth nearly $1.5 trillion, which is about 16% of the total wealth held by the world’s billionaires.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the biggest dollar gainer among this rarified group. Facebook shares surged nearly 60% over the past two months, hitting a record high on Friday May 22.  Investors responded positively to the Wednesday debut of Shops, Facebook’s effort to host digital storefronts for small business owners. Zuckerberg, now worth $86.5 billion, has become the fourth-richest person in the world, up from the No. 7 richest on Forbes’ 2020 list of the World’s Billionaires, published in early April. The 36-year-old is now richer than Warren Buffett, Inditex founder Amancio Ortega and Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison.

The second-largest gainer in dollar terms is also the world’s richest man, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Shares of the ecommerce giant have continued on a tear amid increased demand since coronavirus shuttered physical retailers. Amazon stock is up 29% since March 23. As of the end of the day Friday, Bezos was worth $146.9 billion, up $30 billion and 26% since March 23. 

The biggest percentage gainer is Colin Zheng Huang, the founder of China’s second largest online marketplace (behind Alibaba), Pinduoduo. Boosted by the firm’s social shopping model, in which users share purchases with friends and family, and an aggressive campaign offering subsidized deals to consumers, Pinduoduo’s shares have nearly doubled since March 23, and Huang, its 40-year-old founder and CEO, has added $17.9 billion to his fortune; he’s now China’s third-richest person, worth $35.6 billion.

Colin Huang, chief executive officer and founder of Pinduoduo, poses for a photograph at the company’s office in Shanghai, China, on Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Pinduoduo, or PDD, is a kind of Facebook-Groupon mashup that Huang believes could revolutionize e-commerce. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Another notable gainer: Mukesh Ambani, who became Asia’s richest person in April after Facebook announced a $5.7 billion investment into Mumbai-based Reliance Jio, a telecom subsidiary of the sprawling conglomerate founded by Ambani’s late father. The company has since raised loads more, including $1.5 billion from private equity giant KKR on Friday and $750 million from investment firm Silver Lake earlier this month. All told, the firm has raked in $10 billion of fresh capital in less than one month. Ambani is now worth $52.7 billion, up nearly $20 billion since the market trough. 

Billionaires with net worths tied to stakes in technology companies have led the way for gains amid the pandemic. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index turned positive for the year earlier this month, and it’s up 37% since March 23. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones, meanwhile, are up about 31% each–still down roughly 10% and 15% for the year, respectively. 

FAYETTEVILLE, AR – JUNE 1: Members of the Walton family (L-R) Rob, Alice and Jim speak during the annual Walmart shareholders meeting event on June 1, 2018 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The shareholders week brings thousands of shareholders and associates from around the world to meet at the company’s global headquarters. (Photo by Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images)

Not a single top 25 fortune has fallen since March 23. The fortunes of JimAlice and Robert Walton, for example, grew the least percentage-wise, but they’re still up $3.6 billion each. Walmart shares hit an all-time high in mid-April after the first round of stimulus checks made their way to American bank accounts, and they’ve managed to stay near their peak. On Tuesday, the firm reported quarterly revenue that surged almost 10% to $134.6 billion, boosted by a 74% increase in online sales. Combined, the three billionaire Walmart heirs are worth close to $165 billion.

The figures stand in stark contrast to those at the other end of the wealth spectrum. In the U.S. total unemployment claims have risen to 39 million since mid-March, affecting about a quarter of the U.S. labor force.


HERE’S HOW MUCH THE WORLD’S 25 RICHEST BILLIONAIRES HAVE GAINED OVER THE PAST TWO MONTHS.

The net worth change is from Monday, March 23, to Friday, May 22.

1 | JEFF BEZOS

NET WORTH | $146.9 BILLION, UP $29.9 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | AMAZON

25 September 2019, US: Jeff Bezos, head of Amazon, can be seen on the fringes of the company’s novelties event. Photo: Andrej Sokolow/dpa (Photo by Andrej Sokolow/picture alliance via Getty Images)

2 | BILL GATES

NET WORTH | $106.5 BILLION, UP $11.9 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | MICROSOFT


3 | BERNARD ARNAULT

NET WORTH | $94.1 BILLION, UP $12.8 BILLION

COUNTRY | FRANCE

SOURCE OF WEALTH | LVMH


4 | MARK ZUCKERBERG

NET WORTH | $86.5 BILLION, UP $31.4 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | FACEBOOK


5 | WARREN BUFFETT

NET WORTH | $69.2 BILLION, UP $6 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY


6 | LARRY ELLISON

NET WORTH | $66.4 BILLION, UP $10.4 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | SOFTWARE


7 | STEVE BALLMER

NET WORTH | $65.4 BILLION, UP $14 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | MICROSOFT


8 | LARRY PAGE

NET WORTH | $63.6 BILLION, UP $14.2 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | GOOGLE


9 | SERGEY BRIN

NET WORTH | $61.3 BILLION, UP $13.7 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | GOOGLE


10 | AMANCIO ORTEGA

NET WORTH | $60.5 BILLION, UP $5.2 BILLION

COUNTRY | SPAIN

SOURCE OF WEALTH | ZARA


11 | JIM WALTON

NET WORTH | $55.2 BILLION, UP $3.6 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | WALMART


12 | ALICE WALTON

NET WORTH | $55 BILLION, UP $3.6 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | WALMART

PHOTOGRAPH BY TIM PANNELL/THE FORBES COLLECTION

13 | ROB WALTON

NET WORTH | $54.8 BILLION, UP $3.6 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | WALMART



14 | FRANCOISE BETTENCOURT MEYERS

NET WORTH | $54.2 BILLION, UP $6.4 BILLION

COUNTRY | FRANCE

SOURCE OF WEALTH | L’OREAL


15 | MUKESH AMBANI

NET WORTH | $52.7 BILLION, UP $19.9 BILLION

COUNTRY | INDIA

SOURCE OF WEALTH | OIL & GAS, PETROCHEMICALS

Mukesh D. Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries Ltd., attends the World Economic Forum India Economic Summit 2011 in Mumbai, India, on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011. The annual summit shifted to the country’s financial capital this year after being held in Delhi for 26 years. Photographer: Adeel Halim/Bloomberg via Getty Images

16 | CARLOS SLIM HELU

NET WORTH | $51.2 BILLION, UP $4.2 BILLION

COUNTRY | MEXICO

SOURCE OF WEALTH | TELECOM


17 | MACKENZIE BEZOS

NET WORTH | $47.8 BILLION, UP $10.4 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | AMAZON


18 | MA HUATENG

NET WORTH | $46.4 BILLION, UP $6.8 BILLION

COUNTRY | CHINA

SOURCE OF WEALTH | INTERNET MEDIA


19 | JACK MA
NET WORTH | $41.3 BILLION, UP $3 BILLION
COUNTRY | CHINA
SOURCE OF WEALTH | E-COMMERCE


20 | PHIL KNIGHT
NET WORTH | $37.7 BILLION, UP $9.9 BILLION
COUNTRY | UNITED STATES
SOURCE OF WEALTH | NIKE

SUN VALLEY, ID – JULY 14: Phil Knight, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Nike, attends the fourth day of the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 14, 2017 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every July, some of the world’s most wealthy and powerful businesspeople from the media, finance, technology and political spheres converge at the Sun Valley Resort for the exclusive weeklong conference. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

21 | ELON MUSK

NET WORTH | $36.7 BILLION, UP $9.5 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | TESLA MOTORS, SPACEX


22 | COLIN ZHENG HUANG

NET WORTH | $35.6 BILLION, UP $17.9 BILLION

COUNTRY | CHINA

SOURCE OF WEALTH | E-COMMERCE


23 | FRANCOIS PINAULT

NET WORTH | $31.8 BILLION, UP $2.1 BILLION

COUNTRY | FRANCE

SOURCE OF WEALTH | LUXURY GOODS


24 | SHELDON ADELSON

NET WORTH | $30.7 BILLION, UP $1.4 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | CASINOS


25 | MICHAEL DELL

NET WORTH | $28.3 BILLION, UP $3.5 BILLION

COUNTRY | UNITED STATES

SOURCE OF WEALTH | DELL COMPUTERS


Jonathan Ponciano, Forbes Staff, Billionaires

Billionaires

Tesla Vehicles Could Soon Become Completely Autonomous As Self-Driving Tech ‘Very Close’, Elon Musk Says

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Tesla vehicles could soon be completely autonomous as CEO Elon Musk said the electric vehicle firm is “very close” to achieving level 5 autonomous driving technology, during a virtual appearance at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai.

KEY FACTS

  • “I’m extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen and I think will happen very quickly,” Musk said.
  • He added that he is confident “basic functionality” for level 5 complete autonomy will be achieved this year.
  • The technology will allow vehicles to drive on roads without driver input.
  • Tesla, the world’s highest-valued carmaker after overtaking Toyota last week, already operates an Autopilot system that uses external cameras, radars and sensors, but it is driver assisted and does not make the vehicle autonomous.

KEY BACKGROUND

Tech firms, including Uber and Alphabet-owned Waymo, have pumped billions into developing self-driving cars, a futuristic idea that many had predicted would be ready by this year. But limitations around AI have stalled development of the technology. Last month, Waymo and Volvo announced they were teaming up to develop driverless cars for ride-hailing use.

TANGENT

In February, the National Transportation Safety Board found Tesla’s autopilot driver assistance was likely to blame for a fatal 2018 crash in California, leading to the board calling for more regulation of the technology, and for the company to better educate drivers on its limitations.

ADDITIONAL INFO

The road to completely autonomous driving has five levels: Level 0 describes no automation i.e. everyday cars. Level 1 represents features such as adaptive cruise control, while level 2 describes partial automation features that control speed and steering, such as those seen in Tesla vehicles. Level 3 and 4 represent limited driverless capabilities. Level 5 is the point at which a driverless vehicle can navigate all road conditions without human input, according to True Car.

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Billionaires

Elon Musk, Kim Kardashian Endorse Kanye West Running For President

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After years of hints, Kanye West formally announced he is running for president this year in a challenge to Trump, who he once supported, and Democratic rival Joe Biden, winning support from his friend and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

KEY FACTS

  • Rounding off his Fourth of July, West tweeted on Saturday night: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION.”
  • Musk tweeted in response: “You have my full support!”
  • Wife Kim Kardashian also publicly pledged her support, retweeting West’s statement and adding a U.S. flag emoji.
  • West’s announcement follows years of hints that he would run for office this year which he later postponed to 2024, after publicly declaring at a Fast Company event in 2019: “When I run for president in 2024…We would create so many jobs! I’m not going to run, I’m going to walk.”
  • But the rapper, who recently inked a 10-year deal with Gap through his Yeezy brand, is reportedly yet to file any paperwork to get on state election ballots, while he has missed the deadline for states including Texas, New York, and Indiana.
  • It is not known how serious West’s intentions are this time around, however, he still has time to file as an independent candidate across most states, according to Ballotpedia.
  • West’s declaration was met with skepticism on social media, while some commentators pointed out that it could work out in Trump’s favour.

KEY BACKGROUND

West’s declaration suggests the rapper is looking to cement political ambitions he has expressed throughout Trump’s presidency. West previously forged alliances with Trump, and was pictured in the Oval Office in 2018 wearing a signature Trump ‘Make America Great Again’ cap. He once called the president his “brother” and previously hit back at criticism towards his support for Trump, likening the backlash to racial discrimination. Although he says he didn’t vote in 2016, West later said he “would have voted for Trump”, and earlier this year doubled down, suggesting he would vote for him in November. But that could very well change given Saturday’s announcement.

American rapper and producer Kanye West embraces real estate developer and US President Donald Trump in the White House’s Oval Office, Washington DC, October 11, 2018. West wears a red baseball cap that reads ‘Make America Great Again,’ Trump’s campaign slogan. (Photo by Ron Sachs/Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)

TANGENT

West and Musk were pictured together on July 1st, with West tweeting: “When you go to your boys [sic] house and you’re both wearing orange.”

Isabel Togoh, Forbes Staff, Business

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Billionaires

Quote Of The Day

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We have grown past the stage of fairy-tale. As women, we have one common front and that is to succeed. We have to take the bull by the horn and make the change happen by ourselves.

– Folorunso Alakija, Billionaire Businesswoman

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