The pandemic has been a crisis for many, but not for America’s wealthiest billionaires.
The wealth of nine of the country’s top tech titans escalated beyond $360 billion last year, The Washington Post reported.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ title as the world’s richest person was challenged as Tesla CEO Elon Musk more than quintupled his wealth. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg exceeded the $100 billion mark. Google co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin acquired a combined fortune of $65 billion.
Apple’s market capitalisation topped the $2 trillion mark last year, making its CEO, Tim Cook, a billionaire, per The Washington Post.
Amazon has substantially profited from people shopping online during the pandemic. Consumer demand at the beginning of the crisis was so high that Amazon and other retailers faced supply shortages of items such as toilet paper and disinfectant.
As companies shifted to remote-work models, employees relied more heavily on cloud computing services, where customers rent data storage from companies including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft.
Google and Facebook also benefited from a rebound in online marketing, as well as the need for sustainable communication tools, which included Google Classroom and Facebook-owned WhatsApp, per The Washington Post.
Affluent consumers, who were less likely to become unemployed during the pandemic, benefitted from an increase in disposable income by staying at home, helping Tesla’s shares soar 547% last year.
These tech titans are not the only billionaires whose wealth ballooned. According to Yahoo Finance, Oracle’s executive chairman and CTO, Larry Ellison, saw his net worth rise from $59 billion to $90.3 billion in the last year. The net worth of Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, rose from $22.9 billion to $44.4 billion in the same time period.
The significant rise in their gains sharply contrasts with the economic destruction faced by millions of Americans, as unemployment and evictions soared. This highlighted deep-rooted societal issues of inequality and the ever-expanding wealth gap.
A recent report also showed American billionaires could fund two-thirds of Biden’s COVID-19 relief package just using profits generated during the pandemic.