Tech continues to fall two years after a record-breaking year in 2021.According to Forbes’ 2023 ranking of the world’s wealthiest people, tech billionaires had another rough year, declining both in number and collective wealth. Forbes found 313 billionaires who made their fortune in tech, down $200 billion from last year’s $2.1 trillion. Their aggregate net worth is $1.9 trillion, down $200 billion from last year.
It’s clear that the tech market is cooling after a sky-high peak in 2021, when Forbes found 365 billionaires worth $2.5 trillion, the highest number ever. As a result of inflation, rising interest rates, and fears of recession, the technology sector has not been immune to widespread concerns. In addition, a Chinese government crackdown on technology moguls has also raised concerns.
Despite a 38% plunge in Amazon’s stock, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is $57 billion poorer than he was a year ago. In early 2023, Amazon announced 27,000 layoffs, which reversed some of its growth during the pandemic. MacKenzie Scott, his ex-wife, who received a quarter of Bezos’ shares in their 2019 divorce and has given money away at an unprecedented rate, is also down by $19.2 billion.
There have been major losses for Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google (-$31.8 billion and -$31 billion, respectively), as well as Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (-$25 billion and -$10.7 billion, respectively). Additionally, Microsoft and Alphabet, the parent company of Google, have announced major layoffs in 2023, affecting 10,000 and 12,000 employees, respectively.
This year has been especially hard on tech giants and unicorn startups with billion-dollar valuations. Investors have become more cautious, resulting in decreased venture capital and deflated valuations for these companies. John and Patrick Collison of Stripe, whom raised money at a 50 billion dollar valuation in March 2021 have lost 47% of their net worth since then. And the graphic design firm Canva founded by Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht saw their valuation drop by half since its peak in September 2021. On a larger scale, Forbes reported that 51 unicorn founders are now poorer than they were in 2022 and have lost over 40% of their wealth – some even dropping out of the billionaires club altogether.
Tech industry is still a good field for getting rich, as it is the third-most common sector for billionaires-and the wealthiest. Its billionaires are worth $170 billion more than fashion and retail, which is second.
The following are the 20 tech billionaires who lost the most wealth this year:
1. Jeff Bezos
A net worth of $114 billion | Change since March 2022: -$57 billion | Source: Amazon.
Because Amazon’s stock price fell a third in a year, he’s $57 billion poorer than a year ago—the biggest loss of any billionaires in tech industry. Bezos has been flying into space with his company Blue Origin since stepping down as Amazon CEO in 2021, building a $500 million superyacht and focusing on philanthropy by supporting groups like Bezos Academy free preschools and the Bezos Earth Fund.
2. Larry Page
A net worth of $79.2 billion | Change since March 2022: -$31.8 billion | Source of Wealth: Google.
Larry Page one of the second most tech billionaires who lost the most wealth on this list. Despite leaving day-to-day operations in 2019, the cofounder attended strategy meetings in late 2022 with cofounder Sergey Brin during the ChatGPT generative AI arms race. As a result of the 30% drop in Google shares between May 2021 and April 2022, Page has also stopped selling his stock: After selling over $2.5 billion between May 2021 and April 2022, he hasn’t sold a share since.
3. Sergey Brin
Wealth: $76 Billion | Change since March 2022: -$31 Billion | Source of Wealth: Google.
He has reportedly submitted code changes to Google’s AI chatbot, and appears to be taking a more active role at Alphabet, like his cofounder Page. During the period May 2021 to April 2022, Brin sold over $2.5 billion in Alphabet shares, but since then he has only given stock as a gift.
Microsoft’s net worth: $104 billion | Change since March 2022: -$25 billion | Source of Wealth: Microsoft.
Despite stepping down from the Microsoft board in 2020, Gates still works with Microsoft teams 10% of the time, and owns around 1% of the company’s shares, which have fallen by 10% since last year. Gates’ biggest drop in wealth is due to his $20 billion gift in July to his Gates Foundation, which he co-chairs with his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates. Within 25 years, the couple plans to wind down the organization.
5. MacKenzie Scott
Amazon’s net worth is $24.4 billion | Change since March 2022: -$19.2 billion | Source of Wealth: Amazon.
After her divorce with Jeff Bezos in 2019, Scott has given away more than $14 billion, including $6 billion in 2022 gifts alone. In December, Scott delivered on her promise to detail all the grants she’s made so far on a website called Yield Giving; it lists the 1,600 groups to which she’s given.
6. Steve Ballmer
Amount of wealth: $80.7 Billion | Change since March 2022: -$10.7 Billion | Source: Microsoft.
He’s building a privately funded, $2 billion arena (with 1,200 toilets) for the L.A. Clippers, the sixth most valuable NBA team.
7. Eric Schmid
Currently worth $16.2 billion | Change since March 2022: -$5.9 billion | Source of wealth: Google.
He now devotes much of his time to philanthropy, but Schmidt’s wealth has largely declined due to the decline in Alphabet stock.
8. Jay Chaudhry
$6 Billion in net worth | Change since March 2022: -$5.4 Billion | Source of wealth: Security software.
During the 48% decline in the stock price of his company, the cofounder and CEO of cloud security company Zscaler saw his fortune drop by nearly half. While Zscaler achieved $1 billion in revenue in fiscal 2022, the company forecasts net losses for the foreseeable future.
The company has a net worth of $10.2 billion | Change since March 2022: -$5.1 billion | Source of Wealth: Software.
In the same manner as many of his fellow tech unicorn billionaires, Atlassian’s cofounder and co-CEO saw his wealth plummet this year. As part of a trading plan filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2022, Cannon-Brookes began selling Atlassian shares in October 2022, more than seven years after the company’s 2015 IPO. Since then, he has sold $123 million worth of stock.
10. Michael Dell
Having a net worth of $50.1 billion | Change since March 2022: -$5 billion | Source of wealth: Dell Technologies.
The Dell chairman and CEO’s family office, MSD Partners, has grown into a massive investment and advisory firm. Dell Technologies is still $5 billion poorer this year after a 27% drop in the stock of Dell Technologies. In October, it merged with fellow billionaire Byron Trott’s BDT & Co., which manages more than $12 billion.
11. Zhang Yiming
Wealth: $45 Billion | Change since March 2022: -$5 Billion | Source: Tik Tok.
In May 2021, the founder of ByteDance parent company and creator of TikTok stepped down as CEO, only to soon after resign from its board; purportedly due to pressure by Chinese authorities. Even though he has relinquished his posts, his wealth continues to be largely tied up in his shareholding within the organisation.
Currently, ByteDance is facing increasing examination in the US due to its social media subsidiary, TikTok and how it collects user information. In March 2021, a venture based in Abu Dhabi specialising in AI allegedly obtained a stake that valued ByteDance at an estimated $220 billion – lower than previously anticipated following the company’s 2022 fall share buyback agreed $300 billion.
12. Scott Farquhar
The company’s net worth is $10.1 billion | The change since March 2022 is -$5 billion | The source of wealth is software.
The drop in the Atlassian cofounder and co-CEO’s wealth largely comes from the fall in the company’s stock price this year. Farquhar and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes are gradually reducing their stake in the company through a trading plan filed with the SEC after not selling shares for seven years. Over $100 million worth of stock (pre-tax) has been sold by the cofounders since October 2022, when they first started selling.
13.Laurene Powell Jobs & Family
The company has a net worth of $12 billion | Change since March 2022: -$4.4 billion | Source of wealth: Apple, Disney.
As part of her Emerson Collective, Powell Jobs invests in Stripe, Handshake, and other unicorns in green tech, health tech, media, and education. However, her late husband Steve Jobs (d. 2011) left her with Apple and Disney shares, which are down 3% and 29%, respectively. Her wealth is still largely invested in these companies.
$5 Billion in net worth | Change since March 2022: -$4.1 Billion | Source of Wealth: Kakao.
An antitrust probe and allegations of tax evasion led the founder of Kakao, a South Korean internet company known for its messaging app KakaoTalk and fintech arm Kakao Pay, to step down as chairman last year. (Kakao denied the allegations as “baseless,” and the Korean tax body dismissed them later.) Kim’s wealth has fallen 45% due to the falling stock value of Kakao Corp.
15. John Collisons and Patrick Collisons
Each has a net worth of $5.5 billion | Change since March 2022: -$4 billion | Source of wealth: Stripe.
As of 2021, Stripe was valued at $95 billion and cofounded by the Collison brothers. The brothers each own about 11% of Stripe. After terminating 1,000 employees in late 2022, Stripe raised $6.5 billion at a $50 billion valuation in March—a 47% haircut.
Currently worth $8.8 billion | Change since March 2022: -$3.9 billion | Source of Wealth: Venture capital.
Thru venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, Doerr built his wealth by investing early in some of the industry’s biggest players, such as Google (stock price: -30% since the 2022 list), Amazon (-37%), and DoorDash (-39%).
18. Bobby Murphy
$2.5 Billion net worth | Change since March 2022: -$3.8 Billion | Source of wealth: Snapchat.
In tandem with Snap’s stock price, the wealth of the company’s cofounder and chief technology officer has fallen. Although Snap stock stabilized in early 2023 with some better-than-expected earnings results, it is still trading at less than one eighth of its peak price in 2021 and at just over half its $17 IPO price.
19. Pavel Durov
Wealth: $11.5 Billion | Change since March 2022: -$3.6 Billion | Source: Messaging app.
Telegram has been an essential source of info—both true and false—in relation to the Russia-Ukraine war. It does have sponsored messages and paid packages that bring in money, but Durov’s company isn’t working for monetary gain. Durov is on record declaring that financial benefit will never be the priority for him, a stance that was taken when he left Russia 8 years ago as he refused to comply with giving encrypted user data from his original social media platform to Russian security service.
20. Tang Xiao’ou
Wealth: $2.2 Billion | Change since March 2022: -$3.5 Billion | Source of Wealth: Software.
The Hong Kong billionaire founded artificial intelligence company SenseTime, which had its long-awaited IPO in January 2022. Despite the AI craze this year, its stocks have plummeted by 61% since last year—largely due to the expiration of SenseTime’s share lock-up period, granting early investors a chance to cash out.
In 2019, the U.S. Department of Commerce placed SenseTime on a trade restriction list because of its involvement in human rights violations against the Uyghurs and other Muslim groups in China; a decision that SenseTime labelled as “deeply disappointing”.