Meta’s Zuckerberg sees $28 billion windfall after shares rocket

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen after fencing in the “Metaverse” with an Olympic gold medal fencer during a live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference to announce the rebrand of Facebook as Meta, in this screen grab taken from a video released Oct. 28, 2021.

Facebook | via Reuters

Meta CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has 28 billion reasons to celebrate the company’s gangbuster quarter.

As of Friday’s close, Zuckerberg is the richest he has ever been, thanks to a 22% surge in Meta stock that has left him with a $28 billion paper windfall. The CEO now has a net worth of $165 billion, making him wealthier than Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

He’ll also receive roughly $174 million in cash when the company pays out its first-ever dividend in March. Zuckerberg owns around 350 million Class A and B shares, both of which are eligible for the dividend. Zuckerberg will earn more than $690 million on an annual basis if Meta maintains its 50 cent quarterly dividend.

It is a remarkable change of fortune for a man whose net worth is closely tied to the performance of Meta stock. In 2021, Zuckerberg’s net worth peaked at around $142 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as the Nasdaq reached a fresh high.

But a market-wide correction hit Meta harder than most. Investors and analysts harshly criticized the company for plowing billions of dollars into Reality Labs, its virtual reality division. Zuckerberg responded by executing deep cuts across the board, dubbing it Meta’s “year of efficiency”

Many other tech CEOs followed suit throughout 2022, 2023 and into 2024. Still, at its lowest point in October 2022 and November 2022, Meta shares could be acquired for around $90 apiece and Zuckerberg was worth $36 billion — a quarter of his all-time high.

Meta reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat on the top and bottom lines. It posted growth in every key metric tracked by the street, and more than tripled its net income compared to the year-ago quarter. The company is now worth $1.2 trillion.

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