Elon Musk’s personal fortune tumbles $27bn after tech sell-off

Despite unseating Jeff Bezos as the world's richest person in January, the Tesla chief executive now trails him by $20bn and ranks second

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has dropped back to the world's second-richest person after a tech sell-off. Reuters
Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, has dropped back to the world's second-richest person after a tech sell-off. Reuters

Elon Musk set records last year for one of the fastest streaks of wealth accumulation in history. The reversal is under way, and it’s steep.

The Tesla chief executive has lost $27 billion since last Monday as shares of the car maker tumbled in the sell-off of tech stocks. His $156.9bn net worth still places him at number two on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, but he’s now almost $20bn behind Jeff Bezos, who he topped just last week as the world’s richest person.

Mr Musk’s tumble only underscores the hard-to-fathom velocity of his ascent. Tesla shares soared 743 per cent in 2020, boosting the value of his stake and unlocking billions of dollars in options through his historic “moonshot” compensation package.

His gains accelerated into the New Year, when he unseated Mr Bezos as the world’s richest person. Mr Musk’s fortune peaked later that month at $210bn, according to the index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people.

Consistent quarterly profits, the election of US President Joe Biden with his embrace of clean technologies and enthusiasm from retail investors fuelled the company’s rise, but for some, its swelling valuation was emblematic of an unsustainable frothiness in tech. The Nasdaq 100 Index fell for the third straight week on Friday, its longest streak of declines since September.

Mr Musk’s fortune hasn’t been solely subject to the forces buffeting the tech industry. His net worth has risen and slumped recently in tandem with the price of Bitcoin. Tesla disclosed last month it had added $1.5bn of the cryptocurrency to its balance sheet. Mr Musk’s fortune took a $15bn hit two weeks later after he mused on Twitter that the prices of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies “do seem high”.

Extreme volatility has roiled many of the world’s biggest fortunes this year. Asia’s once-richest person, Chinese bottled-water tycoon Zhong Shanshan, relinquished the title to Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani last month after losing more than $22bn in a matter of days.

Quicken Loans chairman Dan Gilbert’s net worth surged by $25bn last Monday after his mortgage lender Rocket was said to be the next target of Reddit day traders. His fortune has since fallen by almost $24bn. Alphabet co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are among the biggest gainers on the index this year. They’ve each added more than $13bn to their fortunes since January 1.

Published: March 7, 2021 11:51 AM

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