February 28, 2024

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Mark Zuckerberg becomes the fourth richest man after his fortune increased by $28.1 billion

Mark Zuckerberg becomes the fourth richest man after his fortune increased by $28.1 billion

It's a huge return to Mark Zuckerberg's fortune

The Facebook co-founder's net worth rose by $28.1 billion after Meta's quarterly results far exceeded Wall Street expectations, sending its shares up about 20%. Now worth $170.5 billion, he is the richest ever, surpassing Bill Gates to move into fourth place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

It's a big return for Zuckerberg's fortune, which fell to less than $35 billion in late 2022 as technology stocks collapsed in the face of inflation and rising interest rates, only to rise again in 2023.

The upbeat results will benefit Zuckerberg in other ways, too: He will receive a payout of about $700 million annually from the social media giant's first-ever dividend to investors.

Meta declared a quarterly cash dividend of 50 cents per share on Class A and Class B common stock beginning in March. With Zuckerberg owning about 350 million shares, he will receive about $175 million in each quarterly payment before taxes, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta Platforms Inc., during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, January 31, 2024. Congress has increasingly scrutinized social media platforms as mounting evidence suggests that excessive use and The spread of harmful content can harm young people's mental health. Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg

Meta's move to pay a dividend sends a signal about the company's view of its growth potential. Often, fast-growing technology companies eschew dividends in favor of using profits to develop new products or make expensive acquisitions. While Meta is spending heavily on AI initiatives, its acquisition opportunities are diminishing in the face of regulatory opposition.

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After Meta fired about 21,000 people and narrowed its priorities, the stock has nearly tripled in 2023. New profits and an additional $50 billion in stock buybacks may gain more patience from investors with Zuckerberg's long-term bets on artificial intelligence and the metaverse.

Zuckerberg earned $27.1 million in total compensation in 2022, including private security costs and a $1 base salary, according to the filings. Meta has not yet reported executive compensation for last year.

A company spokesman declined to comment.