Tesla’s Elon Musk speeds past Mark Zuckerberg on the billionaires list after Meta stock plummets on its cash-sucking AI plans

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Tesla’s stock rebound has helped Elon Musk get an edge over mega billionaire rival Mark Zuckerberg to secure his place as the world’s third-richest billionaire.

Thanks to on-paper gains from his EV maker, Musk’s net worth rose to $185 billion, a nearly 9% jump from earlier this week that put him ahead of Zuckerberg’s $157 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. At the same time, disappointing Meta earnings took a $14 billion toll on CEO Zuckerberg’s net worth.

Friday’s billionaire list reversal comes after Zuckerberg surpassed the Tesla CEO earlier this month for the first time since 2020. Meta’s skyrocketing shares pushed Zuckerberg ahead of Musk as Tesla’s recent trouble, including price cuts and its first year-over-year sales decline since the pandemic, made it one of the worst-performing stocks in the S&P 500. 

Tesla’s shares are still down 31% year-to-date, while Meta’s shares are up about 27% over the same period. The net worth of both chief executives are closely tied to their flagship companies. Zuckerberg owns or controls more than 350 million shares of Meta, giving him a 13% stake in the company, according to the company’s proxy statement. Musk owns about 715 million shares of Tesla, just over a 20% stake in the company. 

Since reporting earnings on Tuesday, shares of Musk’s EV maker are up more than 18%, even as the company’s net income fell by 55% year-over-year. Musk’s assurances that Tesla would soon release new models and increase its production using existing facilities gave investors hope that the EV maker’s recent lackluster performance was set for a turnaround.

Meanwhile, Meta shares are down about 11% since reporting earnings after market close on Wednesday. Zuckerberg warned investors of possible stock volatility to come as he steers Meta toward AI adoption—an endeavor that the company said could be a big money drain. The company predicted that its pursuit of AI dominance could cost it $40 billion in capital expenditures, up $5 billion from what it had forecast in October.

The two CEOs have a long history of rivalry that grew heated after Meta launched a Twitter competitor soon after Musk bought the social media company in 2022. Last year, Musk challenged Zuckerberg to a “cage match,” that the Meta CEO seemed willing to accept. 

After some back and forth, mixed martial arts aficionado Zuckerberg called off the match in August, saying that Musk was being flaky.

“I’m going to focus on competing with people who take the sport seriously,” he said at the time.

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