Friday 8 March 2024

Jeff Bezos regains title of world’s richest person, overtaking Elon Musk for the first time since 2021

 Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is once again the richest person in the world, after the tech giant's net worth surpassed that of Tesla CEO and Twitter (now X) owner Elon Musk for the first time since the fall of 2021.

This is according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which reported on Monday, March 4, that Bezos' topping of the billionaire list with his net worth of $200.3 billion has more to do with Musk's net worth diminishing.

The index reported that shares in Tesla tumbled by 7.2 percent on Monday, causing Musk's net worth to fall below the $200 billion mark to $197.7 billion.  

Musk's net worth comes from his stakes in his many business ventures, primarily the electric vehicle company Tesla and the private space tech and exploration firm SpaceX. The Bloomberg index includes all of his ventures in its calculations of his wealth.

Meanwhile, the vast majority of Bezos' fortune comes from his nine percent stake in Amazon, which makes him the online retail giant's largest shareholder, even after he dumped 50 million shares worth about $8.5 billion in February.

Bezos being atop wealth rankings is a familiar position for him. He first overtook Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as the world's richest person in 2017. But then a massive rally in the value of Tesla's shares left Bezos and Musk jockeying for the top spot for much of 2021. Late that year, Bezos fell way behind and was unable to regain the position until now.

Musk's wealth may diminish even further

At one point, the wealth gap between Musk, 52, and Bezos, 60, was as wide as $142 billion in Musk's favor. But this has been steadily shrinking, as shares of Amazon and Tesla move in opposite directions.

While both are part of the "Magnificent Seven," a group of U.S. stocks that have been largely responsible for propelling the growth of American equity markets, the value of Amazon's shares has more than doubled since late 2022 and are within striking distance of a record high. Meanwhile, Tesla's stocks have diminished in value by about 50 percent from its 2021 peak.

The latest tumble for Tesla on Monday came after preliminary data showed shipments from its car factory in Shanghai slumped to the lowest in more than a year. Meanwhile, Amazon is coming off its best online sales growth period since early in the pandemic in 2020 when everybody was forced to turn to online retail.

Musk's net worth could take a further hit after legal proceedings in Delaware, where a judge struck down his proposed $55 billion pay package at Tesla. The judge took the side of an investor who challenged Musk's compensation plan, which was the largest in recorded history.

Options included in the voided plan are one of Musk's largest assets, alongside his stakes in Tesla and SpaceX.

The longer these legal proceedings play out, the more likely Musk's wealth will diminish even further, and he could eventually be overtaken by Bernard Arnault, 74, of France, the chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world's largest luxury goods maker. Arnault's net worth is $197.5 billion.

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