Global economic turmoil has proved to be straining for most people, including the world’s wealthiest. It has been no different for technology world’s greatest names. Some of the tech honchos have seen their fortune dwindle by several billions. Yet others have actually lost their billionaire status. Little surprise, the world now has only 793 billionaires, down from 1,125 just a year ago.
Here’s over to the technology leaders who saw biggest falls in their net worth, and those who were knocked of the billionaires list.
The younger Ambani brother, Anil Ambani, lost a huge 31.9 billion over the year, according to Forbes. Biggest gainer on the last year’s Billionaires’ list, Anil is the biggest loser this year with a net worth of $10.1 billion.
With over $32 billion wiped out over the last 12 months, Anil dropped by 28 positions to rank at no. 34. In 2008 he ranked at no. 6th.
Last year witnessed shares of ADAG group’s leading companies Reliance Communications, Reliance Power and Reliance Capital fall by as much as over 58%. Anil’s plans to merge his Reliance Communications with South Africa’s MTN were scuttled last July after brother Mukesh Ambani threatened to sue, claiming he had right of first refusal. Reliance Power bagged 3 mega power projects for a combined 14,000 MW last year.
Recession wiped big nos from technology czar Bill Gates’ fortune too. Gates lost approximately $18 billion over the past year. However, despite the big fall in his net worth, technology titan managed to take back his position as the world’s wealthiest from his friend and legendary investor Warren Buffett.
The list estimates Gates net worth at $40 billion. The software king has been topping the Billionaires list since the past 15 years in a row (from 1993 and 2007). In 2008, he held the second spot.
Gates co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. During the Dotcom heydays, Gates’ wealth briefly surpassed $100 billion.
Carlos Slim Helu
Another tech honcho whose net worth witnessed a big fall is Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim Helu. Economic downturn and plunging peso shaved $25 billion from the fortune of Latin America’s richest man.
Son of a Lebanese immigrant, Slim bought fixed line operator Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) in 1990; now controls 90% of Mexico’s telephone landlines. Biggest holding is $16 billion stake in America Movil, Latin America’s largest mobile phone company with 173 million customers. America Movil and Telmex are reportedly planning to jointly invest $4 billion to improve telecom infrastructure in Latin America.
The Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg indeed lost his title as the world’s youngest billionaire — simply because he’s not a billionaire anymore. Last year, Zuckerberg was estimated to be worth $1.5 billion, making him the world’s youngest billionaire. Now he has lost at least $600 million and is “simply a youthful multi-millionaire,” Forbes says.
Zuckerberg’s fortune is tied closely to Facebook’s valuation, and with the global economic recession spooking global markets, that valuation has gone down. The company still relies on advertising revenue, which has been hit hard in the current downturn.
However, Zuckerberg is still among the techâ€™s wealthiest, and stands a good chance of making it back onto the list.
Sequoia Capital’s Michael Moritz still ranks at number two spot on Forbes’ Midas List of the world’s top venture capitalists, however, however, he’s off the Billionaires’ list.
Moritz, whose home-run investments as a partner at Sequoia Capital have included Google, PayPal and Yahoo, was ranked at no. 897 in the 2008 list with a fortune of $1.3 billion. His investment in Google especially added to his riches, giving him hundreds of millions of dollars in stock.
In 2005, he invested 6 million pounds of Sequoia’s cash into YouTube, the video sharing website. Google bought YouTube for 884 million pounds less than a year later, making a 265 million pounds fortune for Sequoia. The Google investment got him a no. 1 ranking in Forbes’ Midas List of the top dealmakers in the technology industry in 2006 and 2007, and a No. 2 ranking in 2008 and 2009.
Another technology venture capitalist to fall off from this year’s Billionaires’ list is pioneer Arthur Rock. Rock ranked at no. 1,014 in 2008 with a net worth of $1.1 billion.
His early investment in Intel in 1968 and in companies like Apple and Fairchild Semiconductor helped him become a billionaire.
The 82-year-old recently surfaced on the list of investors that entrusted their money with fraudulent Bernard Madoff.