The coronavirus pandemic, which has now infected more than eight million people across the world, has resulted in the worst economic slowdown since the Great Depression. At the beginning it looked like it was even-handed, showing no mercy to either common workers or billionaires. Soon the situation changed, however, with world’s rich not only recovering their losses, but also increasing their wealth significantly. Here are 11 US billionaires who, according to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, have become richer during the pandemic.
Increase: US $8.5 billion
Total wealth: US $67.5 billion
Beginning the list is the 75-year-old co-founder, executive chairman, and CTO of the Oracle Corporation, known for his aggressive comments about IT companies and criticism of whistleblower Edward Snowden. In the 1970s, this college dropout started a company that became a rival of Microsoft in the database management market and put Ellison on a list of the wealthiest individuals in the world. The company’s earnings this year made it a good choice for investment, with experts assessing that Oracle has a higher-than-average ROE (return on equity).
Increase: US $11.6 billion
Total wealth: US $41.1 billion
Nike is another company that experts say one should invest in. The company’s digital transition amid the pandemic has yielded benefits, with Nike’s direct-to-consumer business accelerating and consequently making Knight, who co-founded Nike, a wealthier person. Like most people on the list, the 82-year-old is closely linked with charity work. In 2017, Knight revealed that he donated $112 million worth of Nike’s stock to charity.
Increase: US $11.8 billion
Total Wealth: US $110 billion
Here is a person that needs no introduction. Gates, who has donated about $50 billion to charitable causes over the course of his career and warned that the world is not prepared for a global pandemic several years ago, has also become a victim of it, with numerous conspiracy theorists claiming that he is using the coronavirus outbreak to implant microchips into people en masse - which will be done through COVID-19 vaccines.
The 64-year-old, who donated more than $100 million to an organisation to purchase coronavirus vaccines, recently called these claims stupid. This, however, has not calmed down the 28 percent of Americans, according to a poll by Yahoo News/YouGov, who believe that Gates is involved in a secret plot.
Increase: US $12.1 billion
Total wealth: US $60.1 billion
The 78-year-old, who served as the mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013, ended years of speculation by launching an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in the upcoming elections. Bloomberg, who co-founded his financial, software, data and media company in 1981 and is a majority owner, has frequently found himself on the list of the world’s richest individuals.
Increase: US $12.6 billion
Total wealth: US $48.6 billion
Following her divorce from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie became the world’s third wealthiest woman. Amazon’s steady growth during the pandemic made the 50-year-old even richer. In 2019, she signed a Giving Pledge, promising to give $17 billion to charitable causes over her lifetime or in her will.
Increase: US $13.3 billion
Total wealth: US $66.0 billion
His tenure as Microsoft’s CEO was controversial. Some praised Ballmer for the company’s financial success as it managed to triple its sales and double its profits, but critics say that under his leadership, the company lost its market dominance and missed new technology trends. His remark that the iPhone had "no chance" of getting any significant market share is still remembered by many. In 2014, he made what experts said was his best investment by purchasing the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, which made him an even wealthier individual.
Increase: US $13.7 billion
Total wealth: US $64.6 billion
Here is a person that you may not have heard about, but whose product you have been using constantly – Google. Together with Sergei Brin, who is also on the list of wealthiest people, Page is the controlling shareholder of Alphabet Inc, the parent company of Google and the world’s fourth largest technology company.
Increase: US $13.9 billion
Total wealth: US $63 billion
Like his former partner, Brin has been investing in Tesla, the shares of which have been steadily increasing in value. Since 2012, he has been involved in Google’s research and development programme Project Glass, which is developing augmented-reality head-pieces that will allow users to access information on the Internet hands-free by using voice commands.
Increase: US $14.1 billion
Total wealth: US $38.7 billion
Unlike most of us, Musk has had an extremely successful year – he has become father for the seventh time, his brainchild SpaceX launched American astronauts to space from US soil for the first time in nine years, and Tesla's shares have seen a significant rise despite the fact that the world economy is suffering its worst downturn since 1929. Musk has been an outspoken advocate for lifting the coronavirus safety measures that have crippled the US economy. This has resulted in several feuds with US officials.
Increase - US $30.1 billion
Total wealth – US $84.8 billion
Zuckerberg is world’s youngest self-made billionaire (if one is to believe Forbes’ expose on Kylie Jenner, which stripped the reality star of the title last month). Despite privacy scandals and what experts consider to be a decline in popularity, Facebook managed to generate $17.7 billion during the first three months of this year, resulting in a jump for the company’s shares.
Increase - US $36.2 billion
Total wealth - US $149 billion
For a long time there was only one king of the jungle – Bill Gates. But this all changed in 2017, when he briefly unseated the Microsoft co-founder; however, a year later Gates lost for good. During the pandemic, the digital world has become the new modus operandi and e-commerce has become an integral part of the new reality. So no wonder Amazon's shares have jumped amid the pandemic, significantly increasing Bezos' wealth.
At the time of writing, Forbes’ real-time billionaire list estimates his worth at $154 billion. Experts say that if his fortune continues growing at the current rate, Bezos is set to become world’s first trillionaire.