Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of people have lost their jobs or had their hours at work drastically cut. And with the end of the $600 boost to unemployment payments at the end of July, many are struggling to survive financially.
While many Americans find themselves in their worst-ever financial situation, a select few have profited from the coronavirus pandemic. From Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to Zoom founder Eric Yuan, these are some of the individuals who are getting rich thanks to COVID-19.
Last updated: Sept. 2, 2020
Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman began buying insurance on various bond indexes in February based on his belief that investors would abandon the riskier securities in those indexes as the coronavirus continued its spread, The New York Times reported. He continued buying through March 3 and sold his positions on March 23, the day the Federal Reserve announced it was putting together an array of loans and other forms of credit totaling around $4 trillion. This move landed Ackman a profit of $2.6 billion.
“For speed and accuracy, Mr. Ackman’s bet may be the single best trade of all time,” William D. Cohan, a former investment banker, wrote in an op-ed for The Times.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer saw his net worth surge by more than $1 billion during the first weeks of the pandemic, according to Inequality.org. Microsoft has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic, too, with a rise in demand for its cloud computing software as businesses transitioned to remote work, as well as an increase in players of its video game, Minecraft, Reuters reported in late July.
Publicly traded healthcare companies generally have fared well during the coronavirus pandemic, and Stéphane Bancel is one CEO who has benefited from investors’ interest in the coronavirus vaccines, treatments and testing kits. Bancel leads Moderna Therapeutics, which began human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine on March 16 — the first company to do so. Moderna’s stock has risen more than 103% since the pandemic began, and Bancel’s net worth rose from $720 million to $1.5 billion, Forbes reported.
As of April, Jeff Bezos had added $24 billion to his net worth thanks to a surge in demand for Amazon home deliveries as people remained at home, The Guardian reported. Although Bezos warned investors that the company could lose money in the second quarter due to Amazon’s extra spending on coronavirus-related expenses, the exact opposite happened. In the second quarter, Amazon doubled its net profit year over year to $5.2 billion, compared to $2.6 billion over the same time period in 2019, The Verge reported.
Baiju Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev
Millions of Americans decided to invest their $1,200 stimulus check — and many of those decided to do it through Robinhood, the discount brokerage phone app that caters to investing novices, Forbes reported. Robinhood has added more than 3 million accounts since January, and it expects revenue to hit $700 million in 2020 — a 250% increase from 2019. That’s good news for co-founders Baiju Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev, both minority owners of Robinhood with estimated 10%-plus stakes.
Pictured: Robinhood co-founder Vladimir Tenev speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page
Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the co-founders of Google’s parent company Alphabet, have gotten wealthier amid the pandemic. During a single day in May, Brin’s fortune grew by $919 million and Page’s increased by $956 million, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Google is one of the tech companies that has continued to be profitable during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers have relied more on digital services, The New York Times reported.
Apple CEO Tim Cook became a billionaire in early August as the company’s shares rose in value, CNN said. Apple reported blockbuster earnings in the third quarter with Mac and iPad sales “actually benefiting nicely” due to remote work and learning needs, analysts at Piper Sandler noted, according to CNBC.
Serial entrepreneur Gustavo Denegri’s investment in the Italian biotech firm DiaSorin has paid off amid the pandemic. His 45% stake in the company has netted him a 32% increase in his net worth, which was pushed up to $4.5 billion, Forbes reported. DiaSorin has launched swab-based diagnostic tests and antibody blood testing kits for COVID-19.
Pictured: A coronavirus test kit, like the ones Denegri has invested in through the biotech firm DiaSorin.
Like Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates seems to be benefiting from Microsoft’s strong performance during the pandemic. Although Gates only owns roughly 1% of Microsoft shares, according to Forbes, his net worth rose from $100 billion in March to $115.2 billion as of Aug. 24.
Reed Hastings might have “Tiger King” to thank for his boost in net worth. Netflix subscriptions have surged since the start of the pandemic, leading shares of the streaming service to reach record highs, Forbes reported. Hastings, the co-founder and CEO of Netflix, has gotten $1.3 billion richer since the end of March. He is now worth $5 billion.
Seo Jung-Jin is another healthcare executive whose net worth is rising thanks to COVID-19. As CEO of South Korean biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion, Seo has become about $1.5 billion richer since March 11, Forbes reported. Celltrion has developed a rapid-result diagnostic test and is also working to develop a treatment for the coronavirus.
Pictured: Vials full of Celltrion Inc.’s CT-P59 coronavirus treatment, ready to be used in trials in South Korea.
Alain Mérieux, founder of diagnostic test maker BioMérieux, has become $1.5 billion richer since March, Forbes reported. BioMérieux is one of the key players in the race to expand testing for COVID-19.
Elon Musk’s net worth has tripled since March 18, Business Insider reported. As of Aug. 24, Musk was worth $89.8 billion, Forbes reported. The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has increased his net worth by billions amid the pandemic thanks in part to reportedly partnering with medical equipment companies, according to GQ.
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A descendant of Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche, who founded the Swiss pharma company Roche in 1896, Maja Oeri has gained wealth thanks to her 5% share in the business. Roche is developing both coronavirus treatments and an antibodies test, Forbes reported. Oeri’s net worth has jumped about 10% since the pandemic started — she is now worth $3.2 billion.
Pictured: Maja Oeri (center) posing with actor Daniel Craig (left) and director Steve McQueen (right) at the Museum of Modern Art’s 2014 Party In The Garden, New York City.
Leonard Schleifer is the CEO and co-founder of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which began clinical trials of its rheumatoid arthritis drug sarilumab on COVID-19 patients in March, Forbes reported. Schleifer’s net worth has risen 11% since the pandemic started, bringing his net worth to $2.2 billion.
Andreas and Thomas Struengmann
Billionaire twins Andreas and Thomas Struengmann have invested in a number of biotech and healthcare companies over the years, including German biotech upstart BioNTech. The company has partnered with Pfizer and Fosun Pharmaceuticals to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The Struengmanns are now worth $6.9 billion each — an 11% increase since the start of the pandemic, Forbes reported.
Pictured: The Pfizer company logo.
Li Xiting is the co-founder of medical device maker Mindray Medical International, which now is China’s largest producer of medical equipment, Forbes reported. Mindray tripled its production of ventilators to help fight the coronavirus pandemic and donated $4.6 million worth of medical devices to hospitals around the world, Forbes reported. Despite the large donations the company has made, Li’s net worth still has risen. His net worth is now $12.6 billion.
Pictured: A ventilation face mask in a hospital ICU, much like the equipment Li’s company is making amid the pandemic.
Eric Yuan is the founder and CEO of video conferencing startup Zoom Technologies, Inc. His net worth jumped 112% to $7.57 billion in three months — a nearly $4 billion rise — as many businesses transitioned to remote work and turned to Zoom to keep employees connected, Business Insider reported.
As of May, Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth had risen $30 billion since the coronavirus pandemic hit hard in March, Business Insider reported. Facebook reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings with $17.74 billion in revenue. Perhaps more people are using social media as they spend more time at home — Facebook reported that during the first quarter of 2020 it reached 3 billion monthly users across its line of apps, which includes Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
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