Meet the Briefest Billionaires of 2021, who are super-rich for a brief moment.
From left to right: LoanDepot founder and CEO Anthony Hsieh, Peloton cofounder and CEO John Foley, and Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt.
Not all billionaires remain super-rich indefinitely, although most do for longer than a few hours. The turbulence of 2021—a year marked by continued Covid-19 upheavals and a rush of chaotic public stock offerings—minted a slew of new billionaires whose membership in the three comma club lasted only months, days, or even minutes.
The poor performance of several companies following their stock market debuts was a major contributor to this year’s wealth roller coaster. During the pandemic, the rising popularity of SPACs, often known as “blank check corporations,” played a part, since they opened the floodgates for a surge of firms looking to go public without the red tape of a regular IPO. Stock prices have plummeted in numerous situations after promising starts. Four of the 10 millionaires profiled below went public with their companies via SPAC: Grab’s Anthony Tan,
As a result of a SPAC merger, JoeBen Bivert of Joby Aviation, Carl Daikeler of BeachBody, and Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe all became billionaires, but the value of their interests fell below $1 billion due to a dip in the stock price.
In 2021, however, it wasn’t simply SPACs that were unpredictable. According to data from Dealogic reported in the Financial Times, half of the firms that raised more than $1 billion in IPOs this year were trading below their listing prices as of November. Bumble, the owner of the dating app, raised $2.2 billion in February at a $8.6 billion valuation; shares had plunged 50% as of December 14. The coronavirus epidemic continues to exert disproportionate effect, as the tides of limitations and public opinion ebb and flow, putting certain businesses in and out of favor.
These are some of the tycoons who become billionaires for a short time.
The founders of at-home fitness equipment companies Peloton and Beachbody (also briefly billionaires) can speak to that.
These are among the tycoons who were briefly billionaires in 2021, listed starting with the shortest tenure as a billionaire (net worths are as of close of trading on December 15, 2021):
1. Anthony Tan
Grab cofounder and CEO
Billionaire for less than a day
Net worth: $600 million
Tan became a billionaire for a few hours on December 2 after his firm, Grab, the Southeast Asian ride-hailing behemoth, went public. Grab went public through a SPAC merger, valuing the “super-app” (which also includes online banking, hotel bookings, and insurance services) at $40 billion and setting the global record for the largest-ever SPAC merger. When shares of Tan’s six-year-old firm commenced trading at $13.06 apiece, Tan’s ownership in the company surpassed $1 billion. Grab’s stock, on the other hand, swiftly plummeted, shedding over a third of its worth by the end of the day to settle at $8.75 per share. Since then, the stock has only dropped further, closing on December 15 at $7.14.
2. Tim Chen
Nerdwallet founder and CEO
Billionaire for less than a day
Net worth: $499 million
Another of 2021’s shortest-lived billionaires, Chen spent an extremely brief amount of time with his net worth at 10 figures when his company, Nerdwallet, went public on November 4. The personal finance company—used by people looking for advice on credit cards, mortgages and more—opened trading at $23.50 per share before briefly surging to $34.44. At that peak, the 31.7 million shares Chen accumulated as founder and CEO, soared to a value of $1.09 billion. But the stock closed the day at $23.40 and has not surpassed the $30 threshold since. Shares of the money-losing company closed at $15.46 each on December 15, giving the company a $1 billion market capitalization.
3. Jean Qing Liu
DiDi Global President
Billionaire for less than one week
Net worth: $466 million
When DiDi Global’s shares were listed on the New York Stock Exchange in June, Jean Qing Liu, the company’s president, and her husband, Will Wei Cheng, the company’s CEO and chairman, both became billionaires, with estimated net worths of $1.1 billion and $4.4 billion, respectively. A 27 percent plunge in DiDi shares, sparked by news that China’s regulator was investigating the company, put Liu’s worth below $1 billion less than a week later. The position for the ride-hailing business deteriorated in November, when Chinese regulators reportedly requested it to devise a strategy to delist from the New York Stock Exchange due to concerns about the loss of sensitive data. Since its IPO, DiDi’s shares has dropped by nearly 60%. (With a net worth of $1.9 billion, Cheng is still a billionaire.)
4. JoeBen Bevirt
Joby Aviation founder and CEO
Billionaire for less than three months
Net worth: $670 million
Bevrit’s brief stint as a billionaire began in August, when his Santa Cruz, California-based electric air taxi firm, Joby Aviation, went public via a SPAC merger. On the first day of trading, shares surged 6% to settle at $10.90, making Bevrit, 47, the first billionaire in the electric aviation sector, with a net worth of $1.1 billion–all before the company released its first vehicle. Despite the fact that he’s been working on an aircraft that can take off and land vertically since 2009, electric air taxi startups still have a long way to go before reaching the market. The Federal Aviation Administration will certify Joby’s aircraft in 2023, according to the company. Investors have struggled to retain the same level of enthusiasm due to the timing, with shares down 42% from the IPO as of December 15.
5. Carl Daikeler
BeachBody CEO and chairman
Billionaire for less than four months
Net worth: $320 million
In June, Daikeler took his at-home fitness company, Beachbody, public via a SPAC merger in the hopes of capitalizing on the pandemic’s momentum. Beachbody’s 23-year-old merger with exercise bike maker Myx Fitness was meant to turn the 23-year-old company into a powerful competitor to Peloton. Investors bought into Beachbody’s vision, and Daikeler’s investment climbed to $1.7 billion, thanks to rapid development in its subscription business and a library of on-demand workout sessions. However, after the SPAC merger, shares have dropped more than 80%, as lessened coronavirus regulations have dampened much of the enthusiasm for exercise equipment firms. Beachbody’s third-quarter revenue fell 17% year over year to $208.1 million, while losses grew to $39.9 million from $13.8 million the previous year. According to Forbes, Daikeler lost his billionaire status in September.
6. Anne Wojcicki
Billionaire for less than six months
Net worth: $765 million
Following the success of her company’s DNA tests, 23andMe cofounder Anne Wojcicki took the 15-year-old genetics testing company public in June, becoming a billionaire in the process. When the company went public via SPAC merger, her 99.4 million shares were worth almost $1.3 billion; shares climbed 21% to $13.32 on the first day of trading. Her 23andMe investment, on the other hand, sank below $1 billion in value the next month, then recovered in early October before plummeting again in November as the stock plummeted amid sluggish revenues, massive losses, and the company’s struggle to shift into medication development. Since the transaction, 23andMe’s stock has dropped 43%. (Note: As a result of her 2015 divorce from Google cofounder Sergey Brin, Forbes has been unable to establish the value of Wojcicki’s other assets outside of her 23andMe stock.)
7. Anthony Hsieh
LoanDepot founder and CEO
Billionaire for less than eight months
Net worth: $649 million
Five years after pulling the plug on a different IPO attempt, Hsieh gave it another shot and oversaw the February stock market debut of California-based mortgage lender LoanDepot. Though marked down at the last minute with only 3.2% of its shares listed for public trading, the IPO boosted the net worth of Hsieh, the company’s chairman and CEO, to an estimated $2 billion thanks to his 54% stake. As of mid-December, the 56-year-old Hsieh is worth less than half of that amount as LoanDepot shares dropped to nearly 80% below their IPO price. The company has battled some bad press but is mostly struggling against broader housing market trends—namely fear over rising interest rates—which have hit LoanDepot harder than some of its larger competitors. Rocket Companies, the parent company of competitors Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage, has seen shares drop 30% since its IPO in August 2020.
8. Whitney Wolfe Herd
Bumble cofounder and CEO
Billionaire for less than eleven months
Net worth: $970 million
The cofounder and CEO of Bumble, Wolfe Herd became the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire when she took the buzzy dating app company public in February. The IPO—the second for a big dating app after Match Group’s 2015 debut—boosted Wolfe Herd’s 21% stake to $1.5 billion after shares opened trading at $76. However, the honeymoon period was disrupted by a November quarterly earnings report that showed a decline in overall user growth centering around its other dating app, Badoo, which is popular outside the U.S.. The red flags in the report sent investors into a frenzy and deflated Wolfe Herd’s net worth beneath the $1 billion mark, though she has hovered close to the threshold since, at one point even passing it again.
9. John Foley
Peloton founder and CEO
Billionaire for less than a year
Net worth: $707 million
With a net worth of $1.5 billion, Foley, the cofounder and CEO of Peloton, first featured on Forbes’ billionaire list in April. Early on in the epidemic, the fitness equipment company, which provides stationary bikes and treadmills with at-home training subscriptions, profited from a surge in demand, with sales increasing by 250 percent in the first quarter. Gyms, like many other epidemic favorites, have had difficulty reopening. In early November, Peloton’s CEO lost his billionaire title after the company’s stock plunged 30% in one day following a disappointing earnings report. As of December 15, the stock had dropped another 30%, further eroding Foley’s riches.
10. Jack Schuler
Healthcare investor and philanthropist
Billionaire for less than a year
Net worth: $757 million
Schuler, a former president of Abbott Laboratories, is another entrant to Forbes’ World Billionaires List in April. His decades of investment in healthcare paid off big time early in the pandemic. Following bets on relevant new technologies like Quidel Corp.’s Covid-19 testing (one of the first firms to get FDA approval) and Inspirotec, a device that can detect the virus’s presence in the air, his net worth increased to $1.1 billion. However, a dramatic drop in the stock price of several of his businesses, such as Accelerate Diagnostics, Biodesix, and Aspira Women’s Health, has slashed his fortune by more than $300 million.