According to NBC News the World's richest become wealthier during Covid pandemic as inequality grows
Nearly All countries in the world will see an increase in inequality because of the pandemic, according to a new report.
The two billionaires, like many of the world’s richest people, have become even wealthier since the coronavirus struck, according to a report released Monday by international humanitarian group Oxfam.
Their experience contrasted sharply with those of the world’s less fortunate, who have hit on hard times and whose recovery from the pandemic could take over a decade, according to the report, titled “The Inequality Virus.”
According to Oxfam, the world’s 10 richest billionaires — which include Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and LVMH luxury group’s CEO Bernard Arnault — have collectively seen their wealth grow by $540 billion over this period. Oxfam based its analysis of the wealthiest people on the Forbes Billionaires List.
Another report explains how the pandemic has unequally affected people’s health outcomes. For example, in the U.S., close to 22,000 Black and Hispanic people would still be alive as of December 2020 if Covid-19 mortality rates were the same as for white people.
Covid-19 is not unique in the way it has affected different populations, said Melissa Leach, the director of the U.K.-based research organization, the Institute of Development Studies.
“Epidemics are always mirrors to society, and what this has revealed is a highly unequal world,” she said.
“We are seeing rises in wealth amongst very few, rises in poverty, and gaps between the rich and poor. And what we’ve learned over many decades is that the gaps in themselves also matter because they have knock-on effects not just for the poor but for the way democracies function and the ways economic policies unfold,” she added.
The report calls on governments to step in to remedy the growing gaps in inequality, and recommends taxes on the wealthy, increased public spending on health care, free universal access to quality health care, and permanent “social protection” for the poorest in society.
“Inequalities make it more difficult to deliver on things that any American would care about,” said Leach. “It’s more difficult to have a stable society, a healthy society, a secure society, a peaceful society, and to have a functioning democracy.”
American Billionaires That Got Richer During COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an economic crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Great Depression. In the early months of the pandemic, as local businesses across the country closed, tens of millions of Americans lost their job. Now, more than half a year later, more than 11 million Americans remain unemployed and many shops and restaurants will never reopen. Here is a look at American businesses that might not survive coronavirus.
The recession ushered in by the novel coronavirus has not meant economic catastrophe for everyone, however. In fact, in the months since the virus reached the United States, many of the nation’s wealthiest citizens have actually profited handsomely. Over a roughly seven-month period starting in mid-March — a week after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency — America’s 614 billionaires grew their net worth by a collective $931 billion.
Using data from Forbes, 24/7 Wall St. identified the American billionaires who got richer during COVID-19. We ranked the 30 billionaires whose monetary wealth grew the most from March 18, 2020 to Oct. 13, 2020. We only reviewed changes in net worth for American citizens who were considered billionaires as of April 7, 2020.
The vast majority of people on this list are high-profile executives or founders and investors at publicly traded companies — and much of their wealth is invested in the company with which they are associated. And though the U.S. economy is facing its worst economic and health crises in over half a century, the stock market has fared relatively well. Since the market crash in mid-March, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has surged, appreciating in value by over 50% as of mid-October, even reaching new record highs. Here is a look at how the COVID stock market crash compares to others in history.
Notably, many of the billionaires on this list are associated with technology companies — and many of those companies have done especially well during the pandemic. The tech-heavy NASDAQ composite index reported even stronger growth than the Dow in recent months, surging by about 66% from mid-March to mid-October — and generating billions of dollars for major shareholders in the process.
30. Lin Bin > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$4.7 billion (+133.6%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $3.5 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $8.2 billion > Industry: Technology
Since mid-March, when the novel coronavirus began wreaking havoc on both the public health and economy of the United States, technology billionaire Lin Bin made about $4.7 billion, more than doubling his net worth. Lin is the cofounder and president of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi. Before founding the company in 2010, Lin worked at both Microsoft and Google. Xiaomi went public in 2018 and its share price has more than doubled during the pandemic.
Though he was born in Guangzhou, China and currently resides in Beijing, Lin is an American citizen.
29. Leonard Lauder > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$5.3 billion (+36.3%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $14.6 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $19.9 billion > Industry: Fashion & Retail
Leonard Lauder is worth an estimated $19.9 billion — enough to make him one of the 30 richest Americans. Over one-third of Lauder’s wealth, $5.3 billion, was amassed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lauder was the CEO of beauty products company Estee Lauder for nearly three decades before stepping down in 1999. He currently serves as the company’s chairman emeritus. A publicly traded company, Estee Lauder beat earnings estimates in the third quarter of 2020 and its stock price has climbed by more than 50% during the pandemic — and Lauder is a significant shareholder.
Like several other billionaires on this list, Lauder is a philanthropist and has donated millions to Alzheimer’s research.
28. Jay Chaudhry > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$6.0 billion (+213.9%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $2.8 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $8.8 billion > Industry: Technology
Jay Chaudhry is founder and CEO of Zscaler, a publicly traded California-based cybersecurity company. Zscaler’s share price more than tripled from mid-March through mid-October — and Chaundhry and his family own 45% of the company. Chaudhry’s net worth also more than tripled over the same period, from $2.8 billion to $8.8 billion.
Though born in Indiana, Chaudhry now lives in the San Francisco Bay area.
27. David Duffield > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$6.0 billion (+80.6%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $7.5 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $13.5 billion > Industry: Technology
David Duffield is one of many tech entrepreneurs to rank on this list. Working as a software engineer at IBM early in his career, Duffield went on to found PeopleSoft, a human resources and finance software company, which Oracle bought the company for nearly $11 billion a decade and a half ago. Duffield then founded WorkDay, another HR and finance software company, which went public in 2012. WorkDay share price doubled from March 18 to Oct. 13, and Duffield owns 23% of the company.
During the recent six-month period, in which Duffield’s net worth grew by $6.0 billion, he donated $5 million to start a scholarship program for engineering students at his alma mater, Cornell University.
26. Charles Koch > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$6.7 billion (tied) (+17.6%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $38.2 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $44.9 billion > Industry: Diversified
Most of the billionaires on this list have expanded their wealth during the COVID-19 pandemic through the appreciation of the shares of the publicly traded companies they are associated with. Charles Koch is an exception. Koch is the chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, one of the largest private companies in the United States. Koch has a 42% stake in the diversified company, which — through its business in industries ranging from chemicals to pipelines — reports $110 billion in annual revenue.
Koch Industries subsidiary Georgia-Pacific, one of largest toilet paper manufacturers in the country, reportedly increased its production capacity to meet consumer demand in the early days of the pandemic.
25. Julia & David Koch > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$6.7 billion (tied) (+17.6%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $38.2 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $44.9 billion > Industry: Diversified
Julia Koch is the widow of the late David Koch, who passed away in August 2019. When David Koch passed away, his wife — along with their children — inherited billions of dollars and a 42% stake in Koch Industries, a company also owned in part by David’s brother, Charles Koch.
One of the richest women in the world, Julia Koch is estimated to be worth nearly $45 billion, and 17.6% of that wealth was generated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Koch is one of only three women on this list.
24. Michael Bloomberg > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$6.9 billion (+14.4%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $48.0 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $54.9 billion > Industry: Media & Entertainment
Michael Bloomberg’s net worth has increased by nearly $7 billion since the start of the pandemic in mid-March to $54.9 billion. Bloomberg was the 14th richest person in the world, as of October.
Bloomberg made much of his wealth through his financial information and media company Bloomberg LP. He reportedly owns 88% of the company. The company markets the Bloomberg Terminal system, which allows users to access financial markets information, and produces the 24-hour cable news channel Bloomberg TV. Active in politics, Bloomberg served as New York City’s mayor for 12 years and ran for the democratic nomination for president before dropping out in March.
23. Dustin Moskovitz > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$7.5 billion (+80.7%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $9.3 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $16.8 billion > Industry: Technology
Dustin Moskovitz helped launch Facebook and still owns an estimated 2% of the company, which accounts for the majority of his wealth, though he has not worked at Facebook since 2008.
Facebook’s stock dipped below $147 per share in mid-March as the stock market struggled, but it has since rebounded. As of Oct. 13, Facebook’s stock was worth over $276 per share. Consequently, Moskovitz’s estimated net worth increased by more than 80%, up to $16.8 billion in October.
22. Jack Dorsey > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$7.8 billion (+298.3%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $2.6 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $10.4 billion > Industry: Technology
Jack Dorsey is cofounder and CEO of Twitter, a social media platform, and of Square, an online payment platform. Dorsey is worth an estimated $10.4 billion — three-quarters of which he amassed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dorsey has a combined salary of less than $5 between both of his executive positions. However, he owns 74.5% of Square’s Class B common stock, and from mid-March to mid-October, Square’s share price nearly quadrupled.
In April 2020, Dorsey made a pledge to give away $1 billion-worth of personal holdings in Square to charitable causes, including COVID-19 relief.
21. Pierre Omidyar > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$7.8 billion (+71.3%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $11.0 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $18.8 billion > Industry: Technology
Pierre Omidyar became $7.8 billion richer throughout the pandemic, according to Forbes estimates. Omidyar founded eBay in 1995 and still sits on the company board. He owns 5% of that company and 6% of PayPal as well.
Like many other companies, eBay and PayPal stock prices dipped at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, before rebounding in the subsequent months. In mid-March, eBay’s stock price dipped below $30 per share, but it steadily rose to over $57 per share by October. In March, PayPal stock fell to $85 per share — its lowest price in over a year — before climbing to a record $213 share price in October.
20. Jensen Huang > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$8.8 billion (+187.3%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $4.7 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $13.5 billion > Industry: Technology
Jensen Huang is the founder and CEO of NVIDIA, a PC graphics and AI company, and one of many tech entrepreneurs on this list. NVIDIA beat earnings estimates in each of its last four fiscal quarters, and the company’s share price nearly tripled between mid-March and mid-October. Huang owns nearly 21.5 million shares of NVIDIA, and his net worth also nearly tripled over the same period — from $4.7 billion to $13.5 billion.
19. Len Blavatnik > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$9.1 billion (+53.4%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $17.0 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $26.1 billion > Industry: Diversified
Len Blavatnik was born in the Ukraine when it was under Soviet rule, but now he has both U.K. and U.S. citizenship. Blavatnik made his initial fortune in Russia’s natural resource industry, and he has invested much of it in the United States and Great Britain. Today, Blavatnik owns Access Industries, a New York-based industrial group with holdings in industries spanning biotech, entertainment, and real estate, and most of the Warner Music Group record label. Through his business holdings, Blavatnik expanded his net worth by $9.1 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
18. Ernest Garcia, II > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$11.5 billion (+479.5%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $2.4 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $13.9 billion > Industry: Automotive
Ernest Garcia’s net worth in October 2020 was nearly six times higher than it was in March. The largest shareholder of the online car selling platform Carvana, Garcia’s net worth initially declined, as the company’s stock fell from its high point of $110 per share in February to less than $30 in March. Along with the share price, Garcia’s net worth fell from $5.7 billion in October 2019 to less than half that amount five months later.
But Carvana’s stock price rebounded and reached new heights later in 2020, topping $200 per share in October. With the share price, Garcia’s net worth also climbed to $13.9 billion.
17. Jim Walton > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$13.1 billion (+23.9%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $54.6 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $67.7 billion > Industry: Fashion & Retail
Jim Walton is the youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton — and one of several of his heirs who collectively own about half of all Walmart’s stock. From March 18 to Oct. 13, Walmart’s share price appreciated by about 20%.
Jim Walton is also chairman of Arvest Bank, which has branches in four states. His 44% stake in the financial services company further contributes to his current estimated net worth of $67.7 billion.
16. Rob Walton > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$13.2 billion (+24.4%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $54.1 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $67.3 billion > Industry: Fashion & Retail
Rob Walton is the oldest son of the late Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. Rob Walton took over as chairman of the company when his father passed away in 1992. Though he still sits on the board, Walton retired as chairman in 2015.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when businesses were shuttered around the country to slow the spread of the virus, business surged at Walmart. The company beat earnings estimates in each of the last three quarters and hired some 400,000 additional workers to meet increased demane. A major shareholder in the company, Walton’s net worth grew by $13.2 billion from mid-March to mid-October 2020.
15. Alice Walton > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$13.5 billion (+24.8%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $54.4 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $67.9 billion > Industry: Fashion & Retail
Alice Walton is one of three heirs to the Walmart fortune, and one three women to rank on this list. Together with her brothers, Jim and Rob, Alice owns over half of all Walmart’s stock. Between mid-March and mid-October, Walmart’s share price climbed about 20%, roughly inline with the increase in Walton’s net worth, which was estimated at $67.9 billion as of October.
While her brothers have worked at Walmart in various capacities, Alice Walton chose a different route. Walton opened a museum of American art in Bentonville, Arkansas — which is also home to Walmart’s headquarters — and has also owned ranches in Texas where she bred horses.
14. Warren Buffett > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$13.6 billion (+20.1%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $67.5 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $81.1 billion > Industry: Finance & Investments
The net worth of famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, Warren Buffett, increased by over $13 billion during the COVID-19 pandemic. With an estimated net worth of over $81 billion as of October, Buffet ranks as the fourth wealthiest person in the world.
Like many other companies, the stock price of Berkshire Hathaway dipped in March to $240,000 per share, but it has since returned to its previous heights of over $300,000 per share in October. Buffett advises investors to think long-term, consider index funds, and to hold onto American companies even amid market volatility.
13. Michael Dell > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$16.2 billion (+70.7%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $22.9 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $39.1 billion > Industry: Technology
Michael Dell founded personal computer company Dell Inc., which was originally known as PCs Limited when it was founded in 1984. Dell Inc. in 2016 merged with computer storage company EMC to form Dell Technologies. Dell is the company’s CEO and holds nearly half of the company’s outstanding common stock.
Between mid-March and mid-October, Dell Technologies’ share price appreciated by 144%. A large share of Dell’s fortune lies in MSD Capital, a private investment firm formed in 1998 specifically to manage Dell’s personal wealth. MSD Capital also has holdings in hotels and restaurants.
12. Eric Yuan > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$16.8 billion (+304.8%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $5.5 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $22.3 billion > Industry: Technology
Few companies benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic as much as Eric Yuan’s video communications company Zoom. As businesses and schools switched to operating online to curb the spread of COVID-19, many used Zoom to communicate, boosting the value of the company significantly.
The company, which went public April 2019, had a stock price of less than $70 per share at the end of the year. By October, that stock price peaked at $559 per share. Yuan’s net worth of $22.3 billion in October 2020 was more than four times higher than it was in March.
11. Sergey Brin > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$19.0 billion (+38.8%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $49.1 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $68.1 billion > Industry: Technology
Sergey Brin co-founded Google and its parent company Alphabet and ranks as one of the 10 richest people in the world after his net worth increased by $19 billion amid the pandemic. Alphabet shares fell below $1,100 in March before rising to over $1,600 per share in October.
The company has diversified assets across the tech industry, including in its Google search engine, Chrome web browser, YouTube, Android mobile operating system, and Google AdSense, a targeted online advertising platform.
10. Larry Page > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$19.1 billion (+37.6%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $50.9 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $70.0 billion > Industry: Technology
Like his fellow Alphabet co-founder Sergey Brin, Larry Page’s net worth increased by about $19 billion throughout the pandemic so far. Now worth an estimated $70 billion, Page is one of the 10 wealthiest people on the planet. Alphabet, like many other tech companies, now has a higher stock price than at any point before the pandemic.
Page was also an early investor in Tesla. The electric car maker’s stock price dipped below $100 per share in March, before increasing to over $400 per share in October.
9. Phil Knight > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$19.6 billion (+66.5%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $29.5 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $49.1 billion > Industry: Fashion & Retail
Nike founder Phil Knight is worth over $49 billion, after his net worth increased by over 66% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the company struggled at the beginning of the pandemic, it placed a greater emphasis on direct-to-consumer sales after retail locations were forced to close. Nike and other athletic apparel makers have fared well as more and more Americans have been working from home and opt for more comfortable clothes instead of more professional attire.
In April, Nike announced it would use its manufacturing facilities to make face shields and other protective equipment for health care workers.
8. Bill Gates > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$20.0 billion (+20.4%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $98.0 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $118.0 billion > Industry: Technology
Bill Gates owns just over 1% of Microsoft after selling or donating much of his stake in the company he co-founded. Yet his net worth still grew by an estimated $20 billion during the pandemic, as he is invested in a number of other assets. Gates’ net worth of $118 billion makes him the second richest person in the world.
Gates’ charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, pledged to spend $300 million combatting COVID-19 through therapeutics, testing, and vaccines.
7. Larry Ellison > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$21.3 billion (+36.1%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $59.0 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $80.3 billion > Industry: Technology
As more and more people are working remotely, cloud computing is an essential component of many businesses. Software company Oracle, which provides cloud services, has bounced back after a slight dip due to COVID-19. With Oracle’s bounce co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison’s net worth also jumped — to over $80 billion. Communication company Zoom utilizes Oracle’s cloud infrastructure. After Oracle’s stock price fell below $40 per share in March, it quickly rebounded and was worth over $61 per share in mid-October.
Oracle also partnered with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in an attempt to help the government agency register volunteers for vaccine tests.
6. Steve Ballmer > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$22.3 billion (+42.4%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $52.7 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $75.0 billion > Industry: Technology
Former Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is now worth an estimated $75 billion, whereas his net worth was $52.7 billion when the pandemic first hit.
Ballmer is the largest individual shareholder in Microsoft after co-founder Bill Gates sold off large stakes in the company. Microsoft stock was worth around $140 per share on March 18. Seven months later, it was valued at over $220 per share, an increase of more than 50%.
5. MacKenzie Scott > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$29.7 billion (+82.6%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $36.0 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $65.7 billion > Industry: Technology
Mackenzie Scott owns an estimated 4% of Amazon, receiving the share of the company through a divorce settlement with founder Jeff Bezos in 2019.
Amazon’s stock price dipped below $1,700 per share in the early days of the pandemic, after reaching the $2,000 per share threshold just a month earlier. As more and more people turned to Amazon for ecommerce, grocery deliveries, and entertainment on Amazon Prime, the stock price soared. By mid-October, Amazon shares were worth over $3,400 per share — more than double what they were at their lowest point in March.
4. Daniel Gilbert > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$42.7 billion (+656.4%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $6.5 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $49.2 billion > Industry: Finance & Investments
Daniel Gilbert was more than seven times wealthier in October than he was in March. No one else on this list saw their wealth grow by a higher percentage. Gilbert’s wealth spiked as a result of his home lending company, Quicken Loans, going public in August as Rocket Companies. The company went public at a $36 billion valuation.
Under the Rocket Companies umbrella, Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage became the country’s largest home lender.
3. Mark Zuckerberg > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$46.5 billion (+85.1%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $54.7 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $101.2 billion > Industry: Technology
Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was one of just three people in the world with an estimated net worth of over $100 billion in October. During the pandemic, the social media platform was used by people to stay in touch amid social distancing protocols as well as to share articles and videos pertaining to the U.S. presidential election in November.
Like nearly every other publicly traded company, Facebook’s stock price fell precipitously when COVID-19 hit — from over $220 per share in February to less than $150 per share in March. But by May, Facebook stock hit record highs and shares were worth over $276 per share in mid-October.
2. Elon Musk > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$68.2 billion (+277.4%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $24.6 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $92.8 billion > Industry: Automotive
Visionary and entrepreneur Elon Musk first became wealthy through selling software company Zip2, then co-founding PayPal. Now, much of his wealth comes from his space exploration and rocket company SpaceX, which is valued at $36 billion, and his stake in electric car manufacturer Tesla, of which he is CEO.
As the demand for electric vehicles has increased, so has Tesla’s stock price. On March 18, Tesla stock was worth $72 per share. By Oct. 13, it was worth over $440 per share and has only continued to increase to over $500 since. Tesla’s performance has been so strong, S&P Dow Jones said it will add it to the S&P 500 index in December.
1. Jeff Bezos > Wealth growth during pandemic: +$90.1 billion (+79.8%) > Est. net worth; March 18, 2020: $113.0 billion > Est. net worth; Oct. 13, 2020: $203.1 billion > Industry: Technology
As people have avoided going outside amid the pandemic, many have also been choosing to do their shopping online on the world’s largest ecommerce site, Amazon. The company’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has benefited tremendously throughout the pandemic. With his net worth nearly doubling to over $200 billion, Bezos is by far the wealthiest person in the world.
As of 2020’s second quarter, Amazon’s year-over-year sales increased 40%. The company noted its online grocery delivery sales tripled from the previous year. Amazon also offers web services through its AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud computing service, which has grown in popularity as businesses increasingly operate online.