[News] Who are the 10 Biggest Pandemic Profiteers?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 25 11:45:25 EDT 2021


  Who are the 10 Biggest Pandemic Profiteers?

by Chuck Collins <https://www.counterpunch.org/author/t2equdrukeya/> -  
March 25, 2021

One year ago, the Institute for Policy Studies published “Billionaire 
Bonanza 2020: Wealth  Windfalls, Tumbling Taxes and Pandemic 
Profiteers,” � <https://ips-dc.org/billionaire-bonanza-2020/>and began 
tracking billionaire wealth gains as unemployment surged.  We teamed up 
with Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) to track the wealth growth of 
America’s billionaires over the last year.  This report summarizes 
the extraordinary growth in wealth of those now 657 billionaires based 
on real-time data from Forbes on March 18, 2021.

Here are highlights from the last 12 months of billionaire wealth growth:

    + The combined wealth of the nation’s 657 billionaires increased
    more than $1.3 trillion, or 44.6 percent, since the pandemic
    lockdowns began. *[See Master Table
    Over those same 12 months, more than 29 million
    <https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/> Americans contracted the virus and
    more than 535,000 died from it. As billionaire wealth soared over,
    almost 80_million lost work_
    <https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/claims.asp> between March 21, 2020,
    and Feb. 20, 2021, and _18 million were collecting unemployment_
    <https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf> on Feb. 27, 2021

    + There are 43 newly minted billionaires since the beginning of the
    pandemic, when there were 614
    A number of new billionaires joined the list after initial public
    offerings (IPOs) of stock in companies such as Airbnb, DoorDash, and

    + The increase in the combined wealth of the 15 billionaires with
    the *greatest growth in absolute wealth* was $563 billion or 82
    percent. *[See table 1]* The wealth growth of just these 15
    represents over 40 percent of the wealth growth among all
    billionaires. Topping the list are Elon Musk ($137.5 billion richer,
    559 percent), Jeff Bezos ($65 billion, 58 percent) and Mark
    Zuckerberg ($47 billion, 86 percent).

The *10 biggest “Pandemic Profiteers”* saw the greatest percentage 
increase in their wealth—at least 300 percent. *[See Table 2]*

They mostly multiplied their fortunes in the world of online goods, 
services and entertainment, as forcibly homebound Americans shopped, 
invested and diverted themselves in isolation. They include the owners 
of ecommerce leaders Quicken Loans, Square, Carvana, and cryptocurrency 
exchange Coinbase; social media sites Snapchat and Twitter; online 
streaming platform Roku; and digital ad agency Trade Desk. 19 other 
billionaires experienced increases of over 200% while 48 others more 
than doubled their fortunes with 100%+ gains.

*1. Bom Kim (670 percent/$7.7 billion): *A U.S. citizen and founder of 
the e-commerce giant Coupang, the Amazon of South Korea. Kim’s fortune 
surged as high as $11 billion after the company’s IPO 
in early March.

*2. Dan Gilbert (642 percent/$41.7 billion):* Owner of Quicken Loans, 
which capitalized on cloistered citizens tapping online financing. Lives 
in *Michigan*.

*3. Ernest Garcia II (567 percent/$13.6 billion)*: Biggest shareholder 
of Carvana, the online car sales and auto-financing giant. *Arizona.*

*4. Elon Musk (559 percent/$137.5 billion):* Musk is now the second 
wealthiest Americans—at nearly $138 billion—as his shares in Tesla, 
Space-X and other companies that he owns continue to climb. Lives in 

*5. Brian Armstrong (550 percent/$5.5 billion)*: Chief executive of 
Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the country. 
*California *resident.

*6. Bobby Murphy (531 [ercent/$10.1 billion):* Co-founder of Snapchat, 
with his Stanford fraternity brother, Evan Spiegel. *California *resident.

*7. Evan Spiegel (490 percent/$9.3 billion):* Co-founder of Snapchat 
with his other billionaire super-gainer, Bobby Murphy. *California 

*8. Jack Dorsey (396 percent/$10.3 billion):* Co-founder and CEOs of 
both Twitter and Square, the small business payment app. Lives in 

*9. Anthony Wood (331 percent/$5.3 billion):* Founder of *Roku*, which 
enables online TV video streaming. *California *resident.

*10. Jeff Green (300 percent/$3 billion):* *Californian* founder and 
chairman of The Trade Desk, a digital advertising firm.

*Other notable billionaire wealth gains during the pandemic*

    *Eric Yuan*, co-founder of video-conferencing technology *Zoom*, saw
    his wealth rise by $8.4 billion during the pandemic year, a gain of
    153 percent. A year ago, Yuan had $5.5 billion which increased to
    $13.9 billion. Last year Zoom paid no federal income taxes
    on its $660 million in profits, which increased by more than 4,000

    The three owners of *Airbnb* saw their wealth accelerate thanks to
    their pandemic year IPO. *Brian Chesky’s* wealth increased from
    $4.1 billion to $14.6 billion, a gain of $10.5 billion, an increase
    of 256 percent. *Nathan Blecharazyk* and *Joe Gebbia*, with equal
    ownership stakes valued at $4.1 billion a year ago, each saw their
    wealth increase to $13.2 billion, for gains of $9.1 billion each, or
    222 percent.

    *Jim Koch*, owner of Boston Beer Company and brewer of the *Sam
    Adams brand*, saw his wealth increase from $1.3 billion to $3.2
    billion, a gain of $1.9 billion over the pandemic year, or 146 percent.

    *Dan and Bubba Cathy*, the owners of drive-through sensation
    Chick-Fil-A, saw their combined wealth of $6.8 billion rise to $16.6
    billion, a gain of $9.8 billion over the pandemic year, or 144 percent.

    *Harold Hamm*, the politically connected oil and gas fracker, saw
    his wealth increase from $2.4 billion to $7.5 billion during the
    pandemic year, an increase of 5.1 billion, or 212.5 percent.

Of *17 industry categories*, billionaires in the technology industry had 
the greatest collective wealth growth—$564 billion, or nearly 68 
percent. *[See Table 3]*

They were worth $1.4 trillion on March 18, 2021, or one-third of the 
billionaires’ total. The titans of Wall Street—the Finance & 
Investment industries—saw their wealth grow by $226 billion—a nearly 
37 percent increase. Automotive industry billionaires had the biggest 
percentage point increase in wealth—317 percent based on an increase 
in wealth of $172 billion. That was largely driven by the extraordinary 
rise in Elon Musk’s wealth—$137.5 billion or 559 percent.

All but*three states *saw the wealth of their billionaire residents 
increase*. [See Table 4]*

Topping the list in total wealth growth are *California* at $551 
billion, *Washington*at $134.6 billion, and *New York* at $116.4 
billion. The top three states with the greatest percentage increase in 
wealth are *Michigan *at 164 percent, *Arizona* at 110 percent, and 
*Hawaii *at 107 percent.

Billionaire wealth growth is calculated between March 18, 2020 and March 
18, 2021, based on /Forbes/ data compiled in this report 
by ATF and IPS. March 18 is used as the unofficial beginning of the 
crisis because by then most federal 
and state 
economic restrictions responding to the virus were in place. March 18 
was also the date that Forbes picked to measure billionaire wealth for 
the 2020 edition of its annual billionaires’ report, which provided a 
baseline that ATF and IPS compare periodically with real-time data from 
the Forbes website. PolitiFact has favorably reviewed 
this methodology.

Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at 
the Institute for Policy Studies, where he also co-edits Inequality.org.

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