Elon Musk was by far the biggest loser in 2022. But he wasn’t the only one whose fortune fell by a staggering, history-setting sum.
At the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999, Bill Gates became the first person worth $100 billion–a record that remained untouched until 2017, when it was matched by Jeff Bezos, who just three years later became the first to cross the $200 billion mark, in August 2020. By the end of 2021, the $100 billion club had started to lose its air of exclusivity, ballooning to 10 members, none of them richer than Elon Musk, who was worth an estimated $272 billion–$72 billion more than runner-up Bernard Arnault of French Luxury conglomerate LVMH.
Today the Frenchman sits atop that club, which has shrunk in size to seven. Musk, meanwhile, has claimed another title of his own: the first person ever to lose more than $100 billion in a single calendar year. Musk ended 2022 worth an estimated $147 billion–a record $125 billion drop from the end of 2021, as shares of Tesla fell by 65%–almost all of that since Musk announced his $44 billion Twitter takeover in mid-April. His fortune was down another $10 billion on Tuesday to $137 billion, $183 billion less than his $320 billion peak in November 2021.
“It’s been a year of chaos that’s self-inflicted [due to] the Twitter disaster,” says Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.
But Musk wasn’t alone in having a terrible year.
In a year of unprecedented wealth destruction, four other billionaires fell by record sums as tech stocks tanked. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos lost $85 billion in 2022, as shares of his e-commerce giant fell by 50%—17 percentage points worse than the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Meta Platforms’ (formerly Facebook) Mark Zuckerberg dropped $77 billion, as shares of his social media company tumbled by 64%. And Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, meanwhile, each slipped by nearly $45 billion apiece, as shares of the company now known as Alphabet sank by 39%.
Don’t feel too bad for these tech lords. After all, in other years, they were among the biggest billionaire gainers on record. Indeed, they accounted for five of the ten biggest calendar year wealth increases in history: Musk jumped $129 billion in 2020, and $116 billion in 2021, Bezos rose by $75 billion in 2020, and Page and Brin jumped $46 billion and $44 billion, respectively, in 2021. As the old saying goes, easy come, easy go.