These tech moguls lost a combined $433 billion this year

It’s been a dreary year for tech billionaires’ net worths, but they still have more money than many small countries

Illustration of seven billionaires standing in a row wearing blocky, pen-outlined suits

Tech billionaires have lost hundreds of billions of dollars this year as stocks slid and many companies slowed their decade-long streak of constant growth.

It’s been a dreary year for tech stocks — and also for the massive wealth buckets of the executives and founders whose net worths are so closely tied to their company’s fortunes. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who once ranked in the top 10 richest people in the world, lost nearly $81 billion in net worth this year.

But the billionaires are far from destitute. Zuckerberg, for example, is still worth nearly $45 billion, or more than the GDP of Iceland. And several of the billionaires are actually worth more than they were in 2019, as the market’s accelerated growth during the early phase of the pandemic padded their portfolios before their wealth plunges this year.

Tech stocks fell dramatically in 2022 as the pandemic sales bump that boosted many of them waned. Tech giants, which have grown at breakneck paces for the past decade, began hiring freezes and massive layoffs.

Not all tech executives felt the financial pinch this year. Chinese internet entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, founder of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, has seen his fortune rise by more than $10 billion to a net worth of nearly $55 billion. A few tech moguls in the United States suffered financial losses but to a lesser degree: Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle, shed $16 billion this year but remains the seventh-richest person in the world; Michael Dell of Dell Technologies saw his net worth shrink by about $7 billion, keeping him just ahead of Zuckerberg on the list of the top 25 wealthiest people.

The broader markets also nosedived this year as investors and companies grappled with war overseas, rising inflation and interest rates and increasingly budget-strapped consumers. Billionaires who made their fortunes in non-tech industries also shaved fortunes from their net worths.

But some of the most significant drops have hit tech moguls. See how much several tech leaders lost this year:

Elon Musk

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Elon Musk lost $132 billion in net worth this year, a loss that exceeds the fortunes of each of the other wealthy men on this list.

The CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter was the richest person in the world for much of this year. But Musk, who holds much of his wealth in Tesla shares, lost that crown as Tesla stock spiraled downward, plunging nearly 70 percent throughout the year.

Tesla stock has felt the brunt of concern that demand for the electric vehicles is weakening in China, a major market for the company. Tesla also faced challenges tied to the rising cost of supplies to make the vehicles.

Some investors have also been wary about Musk’s focus on Twitter. He sold Tesla shares to help fund his $44 billion takeover of the social media company, and his short reign at the helm of Twitter has been marked by upheaval. The turmoil has made some Tesla investors uneasy, and they’ve urged Musk to once again focus on the car company.

Jeff Bezos

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Jeff Bezos lost $84.1 billion this year as tech stocks tumbled from their stratospheric heights and Amazon shares plunged nearly 50 percent, marking one of its worst years ever on the market.

The founder and chairman of Amazon stepped down from his role as CEO last year, but he remains its largest shareholder.

Amazon grappled with high inflation and slowing growth, as the huge bump in sales it experienced during the coronavirus pandemic waned this year. The company has not been immune to layoffs hitting the tech industry, and it is in the process of cutting about 10,000 people from its corporate divisions.

Bezos is also the founder of space travel company Blue Origin and owns The Washington Post, which he bought for $250 million in 2013.

Mark Zuckerberg

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Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth plunged nearly $81 billion this year. The Facebook founder slid from the sixth-richest person at the end of last year to No. 25, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

It’s been a trying year for Facebook, which announced it was changing the name of its parent company to Meta last year. Zuckerberg, who still leads the company he founded as a college student, has orchestrated the company’s shift to focus more on the metaverse, a take on an interconnected digital world.

Meta reported its first two quarterly revenue drops this year as the company faces increased competition from TikTok and other, smaller social media apps, and a tougher digital advertising environment. The company warned it planned to lose even more next year as it builds out the metaverse. Meta announced it planned to lay off 11,000 workers this fall as it sought to cut expenses.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin

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Larry Page
Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin and Larry Page lost a collective $88 billion this year. The founders of Google and current board members of parent company Alphabet stepped away from their executive roles in 2019, but they still hold major sway over the business through a special class of voting shares. Page had served as chief executive while Brin was president of Alphabet.

In a punishing year for digital advertising, even industry giants such as Alphabet have not been spared. Alphabet has slowed its hiring and has shuttered its cloud streaming service for video games, Stadia.

Earlier this year, Brin filed for a divorce from his wife, although the ultimate financial breakdown of the split will likely remain out of public view, after the couple took steps to shield details of the breakup.

Bill Gates

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The entrepreneur, philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft lost nearly $29 billion in 2022. Gates’s roughly 20 percent fall nearly matches the decline of the S&P 500 this year, meaning the billionaire’s losses have largely tracked with a broad barometer for the overall market and a gauge of the economy. In fact, he beat out the Nasdaq composite index.

Gates’s investments are diversified, with large stakes in multiple companies, opulent real estate and huge swaths of farmland. But his most valuable single holding remains shares of Microsoft, which shrank by nearly 30 percent this year. While revenue for Microsoft’s cloud services increased by 24 percent during the company’s most recent quarter, sales for its Windows operating system fell by 15 percent. And Microsoft said it expects slowing growth for its cloud revenue next year, which sent Wall Street into selling mode.

The immensity and complexity of Gates’s vast wealth played a notable role in the widespread interest in his divorce from Melinda French Gates last year.

Steve Ballmer

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The former chief executive of Microsoft and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers lost more than $20 billion this year as the tech giant’s slide ate into his net worth.

Most of Ballmer’s wealth is tied up in shares of Microsoft, where he served as CEO from 2000 to 2014. While the company has fared better than other tech titans that rely more on advertising and consumer spending, the Windows maker still shed more than a quarter of its value this year. In addition to forecasting slower cloud growth, Microsoft has warned investors that it expects weak PC sales to extend into next year, and advertisers pulling back on spending will diminish revenue for LinkedIn and search ads.

After retiring from Microsoft in 2014, he purchased the Clippers for $2 billion. He’s shelling out even more money to build the league’s premier arena, the Intuit Dome, outfitted with a 44,000-square-foot oval scoreboard and an abundance of toilets to reduce bathroom wait times during games.

About this story:

Calculations of loss value and net worth were sourced from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index as of Dec. 24.

Editing by Karly Domb Sadof and Sergio Non. Copy editing by Adrienne Dunn. Design by Emma Kumer. Photos at top (from left to right) by John Locher/AP, Michael Nagle/Bloomberg, Matt McClain/The Washington Post, Mark Lennihan/AP, Aly Song/Reuters, Jeff Chiu/AP and Romain Maurice/Getty.