Mark Zuckerberg, No Longer One of the 20 Richest People in the World
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's obsession with the "metaverse" has led to a rather tragic loss of wealth in the "real world. 2022 is going to be a tough year for all of America's tech giants. And among the industry's biggest names, Zuckerberg's loss of wealth stands out.
His fortune has been cut in half and then some, dropping by $71 billion so far this year, the most among the ultra-rich tracked by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. At $55.9 billion, his net worth ranks 20th among global billionaires, his lowest spot since 2014 and behind three Waltons and two members of the Koch family.
Two years ago, Zuckerberg at the age of 38 became a member of the world's super-elite rich club with a personal fortune of $106 billion, placing him just behind Amazon founder Bezos and Microsoft co-founder Gates. In September 2021, Zuckerberg's fortune soared to $142 billion, setting a personal all-time peak, behind the rise of Facebook Inc. shares to a high of $382 at the time.
In October 2021, Zuckerberg launched the metaverse concept and changed the company's name to "Meta". After that, $Meta Platforms, Inc.(META)$'s stock price started to go down, and the company seemed to be struggling to find its new position in the tech industry.
Meta's earnings reports in recent quarters have been disappointing. In February, the company reported its fourth-quarter results last year, showing no growth in monthly active users on its Facebook platform. The bad news sent Meta's stock plummeting, costing Zuckerberg $31 billion in net worth in one day, almost the worst one-day loss of wealth in the world's history.
Meta's problem is not only Facebook, but also Instagram, which is owned by Meta, launched a short video service "Reels" to fight against the growing short video platform TikTok, a big bet that did not go well. Fearing a future economic downturn, many companies have cut back on their online advertising spending, affecting Meta's short-form video plans.
Meta Burns Money
Laura Martin, a veteran Internet industry analyst in the U.S., said another major drag on Meta's stock price is the company's investment in the metaverse, which Martin predicts will burn through Meta's cash in the next three to five years.
Martin said that Zuckerberg is betting heavily on the meta-universe on one hand, and has to get back the lost social tool users from TikTok on the other. In addition, Meta is also facing excessive government regulatory pressure and intervention.
Worst Performance Among Tech Stocks
Among the top five tech "FAANG" stocks, Meta's performance this year has been worse than the others. $Meta Platforms, Inc.(META)$ shares are down 59% this year, compared to $Apple(AAPL)$'s 15% drop, $Amazon.com(AMZN)$'s 27% drop and $Alphabet(GOOG)$ parent Alphabet's 28% drop. Video giant $Netflix(NFLX)$ is down about 60% this year, and Meta is "catching up" to NFLX in terms of declines.
Singh believes that if Meta could spin off social tools like WhatsApp or Instagram, it could avoid the negative impact of the entire company's market cap being dragged down by the meta-universe plan.
Currently, almost all of Zuckerberg's wealth comes from Meta's stock. According to the company's latest report, Zuckerberg holds 3.5 million shares, and Meta's share price was recently at the level of about $146.
Notably, in addition to the company's name change, Zuckerberg is also mulling a personal role repositioning. In a three-hour conversation on the audio show of celebrity media personality Joe Rogan, Zuckerberg repeatedly referred to himself as a "product designer".
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