After a round of musical chairs, Musk, Gates and Adani are among 2022’s top 5 billionaires

   2022-12-26 04:12

  • The year 2022 has seen wealth of most of the top billionaires of the world eroding, with market volatility resulting in big swings in wealth throughout the year.
  • The list of the top five billionaires of the world includes Bernard Arnault, Elon Musk, Gautam Adani, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos.
  • While four out of the top five billionaires lost over a cumulative $262 billion of net worth, Gautam Adani, added over $42 billion and jumped 11 spots on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
  • From owning luxury brands to starting an internet-based yellow pages service, from mining and green energy to helping combat climate change, here’s a peek into the world’s top five billionaires’ lives.
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The list of the world’s top billionaires has played out like a game of musical chairs, with highly volatile stock markets resulting in rapid changes in the wealth numbers of the richest people of the world.

This year’s extreme flux in markets and personal wealth meant that the list of top five billionaires at the end of 2022 had a shake up in rankings, an unexpected exit and an even more surprising entry. A year ago, the top five richest people on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index were Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault, Bill Gates, and Larry Page, in that order.



Much has changed since then.

Gautam Adani, the chairman and founder of the Adani Group was the dark horse who entered the elite club of top five richest people on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index this year. He replaces Google’s co-founder Larry Page, who saw his net worth decline $45.8 billion as IT stocks took a severe beating this year, pushing him from fourth to tenth rank on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

While four of the top five billionaires of 2022 have lost over a cumulative $262 billion of net worth, India’s richest man Gautam Adani added over $42 billion and jumped 11 spots on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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Elon Musk gave up his top spot while Jeff Bezos fell three spots. Bill Gates, despite losing $28 billion this year, resolutely held on to the fourth position.

Name Net worth (Dec-22) Net worth (Dec-21) Net worth change Position change
Bernard Arnault $161 bn $171 bn -$10 bn 2
Elon Musk $140 bn $274 bn -$134 bn -1
Gautam Adani $120 bn $77.7 bn $42.3 bn 11
Bill Gates $109 bn $137 bn -$28 bn
Jeff Bezos $107 bn $197 bn -$90 bn -3

Source: Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of December 23, 2022

Here’s a list of the top five billionaires of 2022 and their achievements.

1. Bernard Arnault – $161 billion

After a round of musical chairs, Musk, Gates and Adani are among 2022’s top 5 billionaires
Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis VuittonWikimedia


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French business magnate and chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury goods company, Bernard Arnault is the richest person in the world as of December 23. His wealth stands at $161 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, after a decline of $10 billion in the last one year.

Arnault’s tryst with luxury goods companies began with the acquisition of Boussac, a textile and retail conglomerate, in 1984. Boussac also owned Christian Dior, which sold fashion, fragrances, and accessories for women. Coincidentally, Arnault’s mother was fascinated by Dior, which contributed to Arnault’s motive to acquire the business.

He formed LVMH in 1987, creating a group of luxury brands which would swell to 75 by 2022, including names like Tiffany, Christian Dior, Fendi, Bulgari, Sephora, and TAG Heuer, to name a few.

Together, these brands helped Arnault cross $100 billion in wealth for the first time in December 2019, and to the top of the pile of richest people in December 2022.

2. Elon Musk – $140 billion

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After a round of musical chairs, Musk, Gates and Adani are among 2022’s top 5 billionaires
Elon Musk, Telsa and SpaceX founderFlickr

Elon Musk, the South Africa-born founder of electric car maker Tesla and spacecraft maker SpaceX, is now the second-richest person in the world. His wealth currently stands at $140 billion after a decline of $134 billion in the last one year.

Musk started off his entrepreneurial journey with Zip2, an internet-based city guide service, with a funding of $28,000. The company was eventually acquired by Compaq for $307 million, with Musk receiving $22 million for his share.

Since then, Musk either led or founded several companies, including X.com, PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla and Starlink, among others. Among these, Tesla is Musk’s crowning jewel – the company debuted on the stock exchanges in 2010, raising $226 million in the process. As of December 22, Tesla’s market capitalisation stood at $393 billion.

While Musk has often been dogged by controversies, especially around his micro-management of Tesla, he has been in the news cycle this year for the drama leading up to his acquisition of Twitter, and his subsequent handling of the social media company.

In December, Musk ran a poll on Twitter asking users if he should step down as the company’s CEO. This poll received 17.5 million votes, with 57.5% of them asking Musk to step down. He has now announced that he will step down once he finds a replacement.

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3. Gautam Adani – $120 billion

After a round of musical chairs, Musk, Gates and Adani are among 2022’s top 5 billionaires
Gautam Adani, founder, Adani GroupBCCL

The Gujarat-born Gautam Adani is the third-richest person in the world with a net worth of $120 billion, after an addition of over $42 billion in the last one year. Interestingly, Adani is the only billionaire in this list to have added to his wealth. He is also the biggest gainer in 2022, by a wide margin, with the second closest being US options trader Jeff Yass with a gain of $29 billion.

Gautam Adani’s rise has been rapid, driven by a big surge in the market capitalisation of the seven listed Adani group companies, which have added ₹8.55 lakh crore in market capitalisation this year (as on December 19).

Adani, whose businesses span across ports and energy, has been described as ‘Asia’s busiest dealmaker’ by Bloomberg. He has also topped the list of the sixth edition of ‘Bloomberg 50’, a list of the most influential people in business around the world.

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So far in 2022, Gautam Adani has struck deals across the ports, construction, media and energy businesses.

Adani started the year with the listing of Adani Wilmar, an FMCG company, on the bourses in February, just in time to leverage the fallout of the Russia-Ukraine war, which sent prices of edible oils soaring, boosting the company’s revenue in the process.

Later, he also won a tender to privatise Israel’s Haifa port in a deal valued at $1.18 billion. He also announced a mega purchase of cement majors ACC and Ambuja Cements from Holcim in a $10.5 billion deal.

Apart from this, Adani announced a $70 billion new energy plan that would see the group setting up three giga factories by 2030. He also pledged ₹60,000 crore towards social causes, winning praise from the Indian IT czar and noted philanthropist Azim Premji.

4. Bill Gates – $109 billion

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After a round of musical chairs, Musk, Gates and Adani are among 2022’s top 5 billionaires
Bill Gates, noted philanthropist and co-founder of MicrosoftBCCL

Bill Gates, the American business magnate, noted philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft, is the fourth richest person with a net worth of $109 billion, after a decline of $28 billion in the last one year.

Born in Seattle, Washington, Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft in 1975 along with his childhood friend Paul Allen. He held different positions at the company throughout his professional journey, including chairman, CEO, president, and chief software architect. He is one of the key entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution of the 1970s.

Under his leadership, Microsoft went from being a small business to a leading software company. The company’s first major milestone was the IBM partnership in 1980 and then the subsequent launch of Windows in 1985, which would go on to become one of the most widely used operating systems in the world.

However, in the 1990s, Gates and Microsoft were criticised for their anti-competitive tactics, often termed as the “embrace, extend and extinguish” strategy. Microsoft was fined and sued multiple times across jurisdictions for its anti-competitive practices.

Gates eventually transitioned to a full-time role at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2008 to focus on the foundation’s philanthropy endeavours like healthcare, education and climate change, among others.

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5. Jeff Bezos – $107 billion

After a round of musical chairs, Musk, Gates and Adani are among 2022’s top 5 billionaires
Jeff Bezos, founder, AmazonFlickr

Jeff Bezos is the fifth richest person in the world with a net worth of $107 billion, after a decline of $90 billion in the last one year. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bezos holds an electrical engineering and computer science degree.

Bezos’ professional journey began in the financial services sector, first at Fitel, a fintech telecom startup, and then as a product manager at Bankers Trust. However, his fortunes would change with the founding of Amazon in 1994, after a road trip from New York City to Seattle. What began as an online bookstore would expand to become one of the largest e-commerce and cloud services companies in the world.

Bezos’ Amazon journey was not the smoothest, though – in 2000, he had to borrow $2 billion from banks after Amazon’s cash balances fell to just $350 million. In 2002, the company launched Amazon Web Services and later in the year nearly bankrupted itself as revenues stagnated. However, a year later, it reported a profit of $400 million, turning around its fortunes.

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Bezos also founded Blue Origin, a human spaceflight startup, in 2000. However, it would take the company another 15 years to launch its first test flight.

Bezos acquired The Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million, and founded Altos Labs, a biotechnology company, in 2021. Altos Labs is dedicated to developing longevity therapeutics.

In his philanthropy efforts, Bezos pledged $10 billion towards combating climate change. He has also donated or awarded over $450 million towards various charitable causes, including those tackling homelessness and food insecurity, providing education, among other things.

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