Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk has become the third-richest person in the world after surpassing Facebook Inc co-founder Mark Zuckerberg on Monday as shares of Tesla continued their unrelenting rally after going through a forward stock split.
Musk is now worth $115.4 billion compared with $110.8 billion for Zuckerberg, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index noted.
Similarly, on Monday, Jeff Bezos’s ex-wife MacKenzie Scott became the world’s richest woman, passing L’Oreal SA heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. Scott, 50, who got a 4% stake in Amazon.com Inc. as part of her divorce from founder Bezos. Scott is now worth $66.4 billion.
Musk, 49, has seen a meteoric increase in his wealth, with his net worth growing by $87.8 billion this year as Tesla shares increased by almost 500%. Furthermore, an audacious pay package — the largest corporate pay deal ever struck between a chief executive officer and a board of directors — that could yield him over $50 billion if all goals are met.
Tesla, a favorite among amateur investors on online trading firm Robinhood Financial, has been among the largest beneficiaries of the boom in retail investing during coronavirus led lockdowns. At one point last month, nearly 40,000 Robinhood accounts added Tesla shares during a single four-hour span. And the trend isn’t limited to the U.S., South Korean retail investors have piled into Tesla this year as well and hold about a 1% stake in the American automaker.
Tesla’s $464 billion market value now exceeds that of Walmart Inc., the largest company in the U.S. by revenue.
Last week, Musk joined Zuckerberg, Bezos and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates in the rarefied centibillionaire club as tech stocks increased.
The heady pace of wealth accumulation in recent times is in stark contrast to the state of the worldwide economy. Growth has declined sharply since the pandemic started with companies laying off millions of workers and consumer demand cratering. The brunt of economic pain has been borne by young and lower-wage employees, whose jobs are typically more vulnerable to Covid-related layoffs.
The increasing income inequality has resulted in sharp responses from many progressive politicians and critics on the left. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders this month introduced legislation to tax “extreme wealth gains” during the coronavirus crisis.
Musk still has a long way to become the world’s richest person. Bezos is worth $202 billion while the second-richest person, Bill Gates, is worth $125 billion.