Categories: Tech News

Will falling stocks end the era of ‘pornographic’ profits in big tech? | technology

LLast week was a bad time to be a tech billionaire. As the pandemic drove the world online, the founders of Facebook, Google and Microsoft made gains described as “pornographic” and cemented their position as one of the wealthiest cohorts to ever walk the planet. Well, the “good old days” are over. Sort of.

The world’s biggest tech companies reported their latest earnings last week, and for most, the news was bad. Meta (formerly Facebook), Alphabet (formerly Google) and Microsoft saw billions wiped from their stocks as investors began to worry that the tech titans’ best days were behind them. As investors headed for the exits, the five biggest tech stocks fell by a total of $950bn (£820m) at their lowest point. The slide also hit the fortunes of its creators.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune fell by $11 billion on Wednesday after Meta Platforms reported a second consecutive quarter of disappointing earnings. The company’s shares fell by a fifth, a sharp depreciation that has brought the overall decline in Zuckerberg’s wealth this year to more than $87 billion. The numbers may be nothing more than arithmetic skew: Zuckerberg, 38, is still worth about $38 billion, according to Bloomberg, but that’s a staggering drop from the $142 billion he could be worth in September 2021. Almost all his wealth is tied up. in Meta’s stock; owns more than 350 million shares. As of Thursday, Zuckerberg was ranked 28th on Bloomberg’s list, down 25 places from his previous third place.

Meta’s 71% drop in value this year is due to many things, including ad tracking controls instituted by Apple, a reduction in digital advertising spending, TikTok’s challenge to Facebook-owned Instagram, and Meta’s multimillion dollar investment in the metaverse. the virtual world he’s throwing money into despite a less-than-warm reception, even from his own staff.

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon saw its shares fall amid forecasts of a poor Christmas season and uncertain consumer spending. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex Shutterstock

This investment has worried investors. Zuckerberg has said he expects the project to lose “significant” amounts of money over the next three to five years. Wednesday asked for patience.

“I think we’re going to work out each of these things over different periods of time,” Zuckerberg said. “And I appreciate the patience, and I think those who are patient and invest with us will eventually be rewarded.” Wall Street seems pretty impatient.

CNBC TV anchor Jim Cramer, who has been a Meta booster, appeared close to tears after the latest results were released. “I was wrong here,” Cramer told viewers. “I was wrong. I trusted this management team. This was ill-advised. The hubris here is extraordinary and I apologize.”

Zuckerberg is not alone. According to Forbes, tech billionaires have lost a collective $315 billion since last year.

On Thursday, Amazon reported that this Christmas season would be less merry than analysts expected and that consumer spending was in “uncharted waters,” causing a 20% drop in its share price. The drop knocked Amazon founder Jeff Bezos up to $4.7 billion on the day. Bezos had already lost nearly $60 billion by 2022, still leaving him with a net worth of about $134 billion.

A day earlier, Microsoft’s earnings report showed that reliable cloud computing earnings growth at its Azure division was slowing, causing a nearly 8% drop in the company’s valuation. This will affect Bill Gates, whose fortune has fallen this year by nearly $30 billion to about $109 billion.

Even Tesla founder Elon Musk, the world’s richest man and now owner of Twitter, has not been immune to the crisis. Shares of electric vehicle maker Tesla are down 43.7% year to date. This has reduced the future Mars colonizer’s fortune by $58.6 billion over the past 12 months to a still-astronomical $212 billion.

But despite the week’s stock market bloodbath, 56 of the 65 tech billionaires are on the move Forbes The magazine’s list — one that includes Oracle founder Larry Ellison, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer — is even richer than it was three years

Earlier this year, Chuck Collins, the director of the Institute for Policy Studies think tank who runs its program on inequality, estimated that US billionaires had seen their combined wealth increase by more than $1.7 trillion, a gain of more than 58%, in the pandemic. Recent declines, Collins says, have brought it down to $1.5 billion, or 51%.

“The gains were so extraordinary in the two years of the pandemic that they were almost pornographic,” he said. “Billionaires were essentially disconnected from the real world and the real economy. Even if their wealth is adjusting downward, who else had a 51% gain in their assets over the past two years ?

Billionaires are not the real victims. Tech companies have come to dominate U.S. stock markets, and their slide is dragging down the broader market, and with it the pensions and savings of Americans who are also struggling with rising interest rates and a of 40 years of inflation.

The bigger question is: How long will this fall last and who will be hurt the most? They are unlikely to be high-tech aristocrats. “If wealth is going to disappear from the economy, this is the best place for it to disappear,” says Collins. “It might slow the trickle down to philanthropy, but the reality is that most billionaires give to their own foundations and donor-advised funds. But it could mean there’s less dynastic wealth, which in the end I think is a good thing “.


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