• October 1, 2014

Silicon Valley’s rich lose $11.5 billion in technology selloff

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Posted: Thursday, April 10, 2014 4:30 am

SAN FRANCISCO — The technology stock selloff of the past week came with a price tag for Silicon Valley’s richest: $11.5 billion.

That’s how much the 23 wealthiest billionaires who derived most of their fortunes from West Coast technology companies lost since the market closed April 2, as investors ditched the stocks. Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, Oracle Corp.’s Larry Ellison and Microsoft Corp.’s Bill Gates each lost more than $1 billion in four days of trading, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

While technology stocks reversed direction by rising today, investors have been pulling out of the shares for much of the year in favor of companies with stable dividends and earnings. Caterpillar Inc. is up 13 percent so far this year, while microblogging service Twitter Inc. is down 34 percent and online retailer Amazon has slumped 18 percent. The technology-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index fell the most in two years Friday.

“Investors need something to sink their teeth into,” Jack Ablin, who helps manage $66 billion in assets as chief investment officer at Chicago-based BMO Private Bank, said in a phone call. “A lot of tech companies don’t have anything tangible to offer.”

Any losses from the selloff are so far outweighed by the gains that technology stocks made in the last year. Google Inc. hit a record of $610.68 on Feb. 26 after soaring 58 percent in 2013. Facebook this year became the fastest-ever company to reach a $150 billion market value after more than doubling in 2013 and reaching an all-time high of $72.03 on March 10.

Ten of the 23 richest Silicon Valley billionaires are co-founders, executives or investors in Facebook, the world’s largest social network, so the group was the most hit by stock declines in the last week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. They lost $4.2 billion in total since the market close April 2.

Among those was Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and the social network’s co-founders, Dustin Moskovitz and Eduardo Saverin, who each lost more than 7 percent of their wealth. Chief Executive Officer Zuckerberg lost $1.9 billion and is the 23rd-richest person on earth with a net worth of $26.2 billion.

Jan Koum, CEO of messaging company WhatsApp Inc., which is being acquired by Facebook, saw his net worth decline 5.5 percent to $6.2 billion.

The Silicon Valley billionaire whose wealth dropped the most over the selloff period was Dave Duffield, co-CEO of software company Workday Inc. His net worth plunged 11 percent to $6.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

For many of the technology billionaires, a decline of more than $1 billion was just a drop in the bucket. Gates, a Microsoft co-founder, saw his wealth fall $1.1 billion in the past few days. Yet he remains the world’s richest person, with a $78.9 billion net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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