Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg ‘profited’ the most from COVID-19.
The pandemic proved to be in huge favor of America’s billionaires. Nine of the country’s top titans had their fortunes rise by more than $360 billion in the last year.
They’re all tech barons, demonstrating the industry’s dominance in the American economy.
The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, has more than tripled his fortune and is competing for the title of world’s wealthiest person with the founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, amassed a fortune of more than $100 billion. Larry Page and Sergey Brin, co-founders of Google, made a combined $65 billion.
The assessment of the wealth of tech billionaires is also sparked by how well their companies performed during the pandemic.
The use of social media, such as Facebook, to propagate misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines, increased manifold to aid the efforts to contain the virus.
Musk complained against stay-at-home regulations and defied local orders by reopening Tesla’s plant, claiming that Tesla’s vehicle production should continue during California’s shutdown.
Bezos’ Amazon employed over 500,000 people to stow, sort, select, and pack items in 2020, despite warehouse employees raising safety concerns – and over 20,000 Amazon employees in the US testing positive for COVID-19 by October.
Around 2014, tech companies began to take over the top places in publicly traded markets, displacing names like Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Johnson & Johnson as technology surpassed each industry.
However, the surge in share prices of dominant companies over the last year was mostly due to executives seeking to extend their empire while the pandemic was underway.
While the Trump administration downplayed the virus’ risks, businesses like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook stepped in with tech-oriented efforts to aid the public and encouraged their white-collar workers to work remotely, long before governments ordered citizens to stay off the roads.
Streaming services, online classes, video conferencing, social media, and food-delivery apps were almost instantaneously required to study, work and socialize safely for those who could afford them.
Even critics anticipated that the need for tools to make life bearable during the shutdown would be a watershed moment in America’s complicated relationship with screen time.
In April, the national unemployment rate of America rose to 14.7 percent, the highest level since the Great Depression when 20.5 million Americans lost their jobs, with people of color and low-wage earners most disproportionately affected.
Wealthy customers, who had fewer chances of losing their jobs during the pandemic and had more disposable income by staying at home, were part of a surge that saw Tesla’s stock rose 525 percent in the last year.
Amazon’s gains of 86 percent since the pandemic began occurred as people moved in droves to online shopping, fearful that rushing to the store to get essentials would put them at risk.
As companies switched to remote work, they started relying even more on cloud-computing services from companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, whose stocks surged.
Google and Facebook not only profited from a stronger-than-expected comeback in online advertising but also increased demand for communication products such as Facebook’s WhatsApp and Google Classroom.
Likewise, Apple’s market value surpassed $2 trillion, making Tim Cook, the company’s CEO, a billionaire.
The most influential philanthropist on the worldwide response to the pandemic was Bill Gates.
He moved most of the focus of the foundation he co-founded with ex-wife Melinda to the pandemic, donating $1.75 billion in pandemic-related philanthropy. This is 7.3 percent of the $24 billion he added to his net worth during the pandemic.
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