The world, more than ever before, is closer and more connected. Thanks to the dramatic rise of digital technology and web infrastructure that continues to provide anchor for social media to thrive.
Today, via social media, a glorified digital platform, people can create and share information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks.
While technology, on one hand, is playing a major role in this development, one cannot but acknowledge the contribution of financial investments (running into millions) to see various social media platforms flourish.
Before the buzz of social networking sites, it was commonplace for the rich class to own, buy or invest in news media companies such as the case with popular American billionaires: Rupert Murdoch; Warren Buffet (Richmond-Times Dispatch, The Tulsa World, The Eagle, and The Roanoke Times); or Jeff Bezos (The Washington Post)
More startling is Australian American Rupert Murdoch (age 91), who over the years, alongside his family has amassed a huge media empire that includes The Sun and The Times (in the UK), The Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, and The Australian (in Australia), The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post (in the US).
Fast forward to the present, there is an increasing trend of billionaires building or acquiring competitive social networking sites.
In this post, Ripples Nigeria spotlights billionaires who own or have gone on to acquire a social networking site.
1. Mark Elliot Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg is an American billionaire, internet entrepreneur and business leader.
The 38 years old launched Facebook in February 2004 when he was 20 years old alongside his roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. The blue-app idea started off as a college communication channel and then grew into the global edifice that it is today, reaching one billion users in 2012.
Other social network sites owned by Zuckerberg include Instagram, Messenger, and Whatsapp -managed under a parent company, Meta Platforms.
While Whatsapp is a phone number-based instant messaging app, Facebook and Instagram helps people connect and socialise sharing photos, memories and thoughts on the internet. After nearly 2 decades controlling one of the biggest social media networks, Zuckerberg’s net worth has grown to a staggering $43.5B that places him as the 25thrichest person, according to Forbes. With roughly 2.96 billion monthly active users as of the third quarter of 2022, Facebook is the most used online social network worldwide.
2. Ben Silbermann
Ben Silbermann is an American tech leader and billionaire. He is the co-founder and executive chairman of Pinterest, a visual discovery engine that allows users from different background organize images, links, and recipes.
Ben graduated from Yale University in the spring of 2003 with a degree in Political Science. The Ex-Google employee cofounded Pinterest in March 2010). Prior to the Pinterest success, his initial application, Tote, failed to gain significant traction.
The Pinterest idea was conceived to create a pinboard product that could enable saving and discovery of information on the internet using images, and on a smaller scale, animated GIFs and videos, in the form of pinboards.
Today, Ben is a billionaire, and currently worth $1.5B, according to Forbes. His company, Pinterest has Paul Sciarra and Evan Sharp, as co-founders alongside Ben. In the third quarter of 2022, Pinterest had 445 million monthly active users (MAUs) worldwide, according to Statista.
3. Bill Gates
Bill Gates needs no introduction as a billionaire. For a long time, he was the world’s richest man. Millennials and many Gen Z grew up to know the computer wizard as the world’s richest man because Mr Gates held Forbes’ title of the richest person in the world between 1995 and 2010, and again from 2013 to 2017.
From owning Microsoft Corporation, an American multinational technology corporation producing computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, and related services, he has built for himself an intimidating profile as a billionaire with many companies under his belt as owner or majority stakeholder.
Today, a list of Microsoft’s subsidiaries include GitHub, Metaswitch, Nuance Communications, RiskIQ, Skype Technologies, Xamarin, Xandr and LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals and business associates.
While Zuckerberg’s Facebook seeks to connect friends and families, Gates’ acquired LinkedIn connects local and international professionals looking to engage and interact outside office life. In February 2022, LinkedIn’s registered users reached 830 million plus from over 200 countries and territories.
4. Daniel Stewart Butterfield
Daniel Stewart Butterfield is the Canadian billionaire, businessman and brain behind photo-sharing website Flickr and the team-messaging application Slack. Although, born in the US, Butterfield had to move to Victoria when he was five years old.
As a child, Butterfield taught himself how to code, and attended St. Michaels University School in Victoria, British Columbia. At an early stage, he made money in university designing websites.
His initiative, Ludicorp, initially developed a massively multiplayer online role-playing game called Game Neverending. However, when the game failed to launch, the company started a photo-sharing website called Flickr.
In March 2005, Ludicorp was acquired by Yahoo!, where Butterfield was retained as the General Manager of Flickr. Later in August 2013, Butterfield announced the release of Slack, an instant-message-based team communication tool, built by Tiny Speck while working on Glitch.
As of June 10, 2015, Flickr had a total of 112 million registered members and more than 3.5 million new images uploaded daily. As a billionaire, Stewart Butterfield has a net worth estimated at $1.2B according to Forbes.
5. Elon Reeve Musk
51 year-old Elon Musk joined the league most recently. The founder, CEO and chief engineer of spaceX acquired Twitter to become its new CEO. The former world’s richest man is an angel investor, CEO and product architect of Tesla, Inc.; founder of The Boring Company; co-founder of Neuralink and OpenAI; and president of the philanthropic Musk Foundation.
With an estimated net worth of around $155.8 billion, according to Forbes, Musk now leads the microblogging team where he fronts as CEO after a $44 billion acquisition deal.
In 2006, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams built the social networking site. By 2012, more than 100 million users posted 340 million tweets a day, and the service handled an average of 1.6 billion search queries per day.
The Internet has continued to be a haven for many billionaires in recent years, with many buying into venture capital and tech startups. While some have recorded tremendous success as the case with many listed above, some have had to lose their investment like the case of Google founders -Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they tried out with launching Google+ to compete with Facebook but crashed out.
Last modified: December 23, 2022