Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg avoided a cage match with Elon Musk but got a jab in anyway by passing him on the billionaires list

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Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk never actually made it into the ring, but Zuckerberg still dealt a blow to the Tesla CEO by surpassing him on the list of the world’s richest people.

Zuckerberg is now the third richest person in the world with a net worth of $171 billion, jumping  above number four Musk, who has a net worth of $168 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The Meta CEO has gotten tens of billions of dollars richer since the start of the year, according to Bloomberg, in part because of the stellar performance of Meta’s shares.

Although his official salary for a decade has remained steady at $1, Zuckerberg is Meta’s largest and controlling shareholder, with more than 350 million shares, according to the company’s most recent proxy statement. Meta’s shares have skyrocketed about 40% since January, giving Zuckerberg paper gains of about $49 billion on the shares he owns or controls. 

Meanwhile, one of Musk’s main sources of wealth, Tesla stock, is struggling. Shares have plummeted 43% since the start of the year, making it the worst performing company in the S&P 500. Musk owns just over 715 million Tesla shares, according to the company’s most recent proxy statement, and their value dropped by $76 billion since January.

Tesla’s lackluster stock performance comes after the company reported its first year-over-year sales decline since the pandemic earlier this month. Over the weekend, the company also cut the price of several vehicles along with its Full Self-Driving software. 

Even notable Tesla bulls have recently cast doubt on the company’s direction and are expecting answers from Musk on Tuesday’s earnings call. 

But while Musk’s flagship company backslides, he is still trying to secure a $45 billion pay package, after a judge struck it down in January (when it was worth $56 billion). Musk’s big payday could put him above Zuckerberg by net worth, but it’s unclear whether the  package will be approved by shareholders at the company’s proxy meeting in June.

The two billionaire executives have been at odds for years. In 2016, Meta contracted SpaceX to launch a satellite that would’ve brought internet access to sub-saharan Africa. The rocket exploded on the journey prompting Zuckerberg to write on Facebook that he was “deeply disappointed.” After Musk bought Twitter (now X), Zuckerberg was quick to launch Threads, a lookalike competitor, which Musk later called, “eerily quiet.”

Their conflict escalated in June when Musk challenged Zuckerberg in a post on X.

“I’m up for a cage match if he is lol,” he wrote at the time.

Zuckerberg, who has recently taken an interest in martial arts, seemed to take the challenge seriously and was ready to set up the fight. He later called it off, saying Musk wasn’t serious about getting into the ring.

“Dana White offered to make this a legit competition for charity. Elon won’t confirm a date, then says he needs surgery, and now asks to do a practice round in my backyard instead,” Zuckerberg wrote on Threads. “If Elon ever gets serious about a real date and official event, he knows how to reach me.” 

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