Tech billionaires' net worth has skyrocketed, and it looks like they'll only get richer

Jeff BezosAmazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the Economic Club of Washington DC's &quotMilestone Celebration Dinner."REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

  • Tech billionaires are leading the ultra-wealthy in growing their fortunes, according to a UBS report titled "The Billionaire Effect" released on Friday.
  • The Swiss bank found tech tycoons' wealth grew 3.4% or $1.3 trillion in 2018, and the number of tech billionaires nearly doubled from 76 to 148 in five years.
  • Billionaires have become a key policy issue in the US as Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democratic presidential candidates have proposed wealth taxes.
  • View Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tech billionaires are leading the ultra-wealthy in growing their fortunes, according to a UBS report titled "The Billionaire Effect" released on Friday.

UBS, one of the world's largest wealth managers with roughly 1,000 billionaire clients, found tech tycoons' wealth grew 3.4% or $1.3 trillion in 2018, and the number of tech billionaires nearly doubled from 76 to 148 in five years.

The Swiss bank estimated the wealth of tech entrepreneurs like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg almost doubled in the last five years - growing 91%.

"If tech billionaires' wealth were a country, it would rank second only to the US," the report said. "Looking back over five years, tech billionaires have driven almost a third of the growth in billionaire wealth. US tech billionaires accounted for more than half of that growth."

Billionaires have become a key policy issue in the 2020 US presidential election with Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other democratic presidential candidates saying they would implement a tax on the ultra wealthy.

Warren has been criticized by billionaires such as Leon Cooperman for her proposed wealth tax of roughly 3% to 6%. Cooperman said she was "s------- on the American dream."

Meanwhile, tech billionaires have come under fire for issues such as data protection and political advertising on their platforms. Zuckerberg - who's worth $72.9 billion, according to Bloomberg - was recently grilled by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Facebook's sale of personal user data to third parties and policy of allowing false political adverts.

"I think there will be a change in behavior [of billionaires] driven by the mainstream, with a reduction in risk appetite and I think there will be a reduction of output," said Josef Stadler, head of UBS' global ultra-high net worth department. "Whether that's a good or bad thing I don't know,"

Stadler made the comments at the report's launch event in London, in response to a question about whether billionaires will be forced to clean up their acts.

The report highlighted that entrepreneurs who built software, the internet, and equipment are the wealthiest in the tech industry. However, fintech and multimedia have grown rapidly - 419% and 504% respectively in the past five years.

"Even so, pioneers of the future such as e-commerce, fintech, ride hailing, and data systems are making headway, as they stand to disrupt swathes of the global economy," the report said.

"Banking today is already different today than it was five years go. You look at Revolut and Monzo and the newly developed systems and this will fuel new billionaires or at least millionaires," said Marcel Tschanz, Swiss head of wealth management at PWC, at the event.

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