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Facebook CEO Drops Out of Billionaires Club

Origin of 3-year profit plan revealed

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There are just over 300 fewer billionaires in the world this year, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is one of them. According to Forbes’ latest Masters of the Universe list (my name for it, not Forbes), Zuckerberg’s net worth plummeted by $600 million last year due to Facebook’s inability to make money.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg

Don’t feel too sorry for the 24-year-old personally—he’s making due with about $900 million these days.

Collectively, the billionaires club dropped $1.4 trillion, its individual numbers plummeting from 1,125 last year to 793 this year, though none of them are exactly in the poor house yet. Even among those with truly staggering losses (everything’s relative), membership in the hundreds-of-millions-of-dollars club is relatively secure. Those facing the most devastating losses (not largest) are in industries one might expect: real estate, investment banking, non-renewable energy, developing markets.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Despite Bill Gates losing nearly $20 billion last year, he reclaimed the richest man on the planet position in light of Warren Buffett and Carlos Slim Helu shedding $25 billion a piece. Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page are still sitting pretty, tied for 26th place and each carrying a net worth of $12 billion.

Don’t let Zuckerberg’s and Facebook’s losses fool you, though. Despite those losses, Zuckerberg’s social network endeavor is in a much different place than it was this time last year. A year ago, MySpace was still crushing Facebook in popularity, relegating this year’s net-darling to a seemingly perpetual also-ran. Beyond leading the first quarter of 2008, the only victory MySpace could claim was that it lost less money than Facebook, bringing in only $600 million of the projected $1 billion.

As the first quarter of 2009 winds down, though, Facebook is in a surprising position, headed toward or surpassing 200 million registered users and driving more traffic to outside websites than the previously invincible Google. If Zuckerberg and company can’t figure out a way to make money leveraging numbers like that, the Facebook will join the 2012 list of colossal failures of Internet history.

I say 2012 because Zuckerberg rather famously and awkwardly quipped toward the end of 2008 that he figured Facebook had about three years to come up with a way to make money. Considering Zuckerberg lost a third of his net worth last year, he’s probably right.    
 

 

Facebook CEO Drops Out of Billionaires Club
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