Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the biggest loser when it comes to billionaires this year. He’s ending 2018 with a much lighter wallet than he entered the year due to scandals and setbacks for the social media network. In fact, the reversal puts him where he was in 2016.
According to a Time Money report, Zuckerberg lost about one-quarter of his wealth this year. On January 2, the savvy tech guru was worth $75 billion. As the year closes out, Zuckerberg is worth $15 billion less, which is a more significant loss than any of the other 499 other wealthiest people in the world. Most of his fortune stems from his 13 percent stake in Facebook.
Unfortunately, this year, Facebook experienced several issues including accusations that it gave Russia a platform to interfere in the U.S. elections. Plus, the company suffered a data breach that it waited to let users know about. Then, there’s the possible role that Facebook had in the Rohingya mass genocide. Also, Facebook executives faced some blowback over poor practices at work. All those instances led to falling stock prices for the social media platform.
One of the most significant issues revealed this year was Cambridge Analytica and its co-founder Christopher Wylie who admitted the company used the data of 87 million Facebook users inappropriately. The company worked for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign during the primaries. The company handled Trump’s digital advertising and targeted potential voters.
After the November mid-term elections, the New York Times published a bombshell report, “Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis” that spelled bad tidings for the network’s profits. The Times reported that Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg hid warnings and evidence regarding Russia’s influence in the U.S. elections as well as the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Sandberg lied that she had nothing to do with hiring a PR firm that tried to pin the entire thing on George Soros.
Despite his vast losses, Zuckerberg still has plenty of money left in his massive fortune, which includes $2.4 billion in “cash and other assets” along with real estate worth $175 million. Since 2008, he’s been a billionaire, and it will take more than a bad year to wipe out everything he’s amassed in the past decade. Perhaps 2019 will be worse if lawmakers enact strict regulations for his company.
Despite having arguably the worst possible year, the head of the most extensive social media network is still the No. 5 richest person in the world after losing an extraordinary amount of money. His net worth is still roughly $52 billion, so nothing to sneeze at.