(Bloomberg) — The rally in tech shares has taken the number of people with fortunes of more than US$100 billion to eight.
Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin joined the exclusive club last week, entering a group dominated by US tech entrepreneurs, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The world’s eight richest people together hold fortunes of more than US$1 trillion and have added US$110 billion combined this year.
In 2017, Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos was the first to hit the US$100 billion milestone since Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates back in 1999. Gates’s wealth then slumped with the dot-com bubble burst, and he regained the title of centibillionaire only in 2019. Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk and Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg joined the club last year as the tech industry led a boost in wealth creation with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating a switch to online.
Billionaires with wealth of at least US$100 billion are mostly U.S.-based. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and other progressive lawmakers recently revived plans to introduce a wealth tax, though the proposal is unlikely to go anywhere in a narrowly divided Congress.
“The U.S. economy is the world’s most powerful engine of wealth creation and prosperity,” John Lettieri, president and chief executive officer of Washington D.C.-based think tank Economic Innovation Group, told U.S. lawmakers March 17. “In spite of this, the lack of wealth at the bottom remains a troubling and persistent fact of life in this country.”
US shares climbed to a fresh record Friday on optimism over the economic recovery. The tech-focused Nasdaq 100 Index has risen more than 7% this year, with Google parent Alphabet Inc. rallying for the past two weeks as it won a copyright ruling. Page and Brin have added more than US$20 billion each to their wealth this year, some of the biggest gains.
Warren Buffett briefly reached the US$100 billion mark in March before hitting it again last week, while Bernard Arnault of France’s luxury group LVMH has been part of the elite group on and off since 2019.
(Updates with proposed U.S. wealth tax in fourth paragraph.)
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