Social distancing helps billionaire duck the market carnage
As the continuing rout in global stocks obliterated about $US4 trillion ($6.7 trillion) on Wall Street on Monday, one billionaire was managing to avoid the onslaught as social distancing becomes the norm.
Eric Yuan, the founder of Zoom Video Communications, added $US20 million to his net worth during the carnage. Shares of the video-conferencing company climbed 0.4 per cent as the S&P 500 dived 12 per cent, boosting its year-to-date gain to 58 per cent. They advanced an additional 3 per cent on Tuesday after Needham & Co. analyst Richard Valera recommended that investors buy the stock.
Yuan, 50, has added $US2 billion to his net worth this year so far, the fourth-biggest increase in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world's 500 richest people. After starting the year unranked, he's now at No. 274 on the list with a $US5.6 billion fortune.
Demand for Zoom’s software is booming as the coronavirus pandemic spreads.Credit:Bloomberg
Demand for Zoom's software, which facilitates virtual conferences and web meetings, is exploding as the spreading virus is prompting office closures and meeting cancellations. Business conferences, college courses and even children's playgroups have all moved online as people worldwide heed calls to stay away from one another.
Born in China, Yuan overcame eight denials on his US visa application before finally making it to Silicon Valley. He came up with the idea for Zoom after repeatedly travelling 10 hours to see his girlfriend while they were college students.
The world's 500 wealthiest lost a total of $US258 billion on Monday alone, pushing their collective losses this year beyond $US1 trillion. Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, the world's fifth-richest person, incurred the biggest one-day decline, with his fortune plunging $US9 billion to $US56.3 billion.
But no one has lost more wealth so far this year than Frenchman Bernard Arnault. The chairman of luxury-goods maker LVMH ended 2019 as one of just three people with a net worth of at least $US100 billion. On Monday, his fortune sank $US4.6 billion, bringing his 2020 decline to $US40.6 billion. He remains the world's fourth-richest person.
Today, just one centibillionaire remains: Jeff Bezos. The Amazon.com founder ended Monday with a net worth of $US105.5 billion, after shares of the retailer slid 5.4 per cent on the day and sliced an additional $US5.4 billion from his fortune.
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