Usually when you see that Jeff Bezos has broken a new record for wealth, it's for gaining some unprecedented amount of money, either for making a ton of money in a short stretch or in recognition of his overall fortune. But two days in the last week will go down as an infamously rough time for Bezos' massive online retailer Amazon. Over a 48 hour period in the last week, Amazon's share price dropped so much that Jeff set a new wealth record for LOSING money. When the dust cleared, over two days he lost $19.2 billion.
That's an all-time wealth loss for a 48 hour period. The previous holder of the two day loss record was Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, who saw $16.5 billion fall off of his total net worth following some bad news for the social media giant in July of this year.
Jeff Bezos may be king of the two-day wealth loss, but he has a long way to go to break the record for most money lost by one human in history, without any time constraints. That record belongs to Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son.
Masayohsi Son is the founder of SoftBank, a Japanese telecommunications conglomerate that saw huge growth during the late 90s and early 2000s, the era we now refer to as the "dotcom bubble."
At the height of that bubble's precarious growth, Son was worth $76 billion in early 2000 thanks to his savvy investments in new, massively successful internet companies like E*Trade, Alibaba, and Japan's Nippon Credit Bank. That's when things started to go wrong for him, as well as anyone else whose fortunes were tied to these young internet companies.
As the owner of 42% of SoftBank's stock, Son was doing mighty well for himself when the company's market cap hit $180 billion. That was in early 2000.
On March 10 2000, the NASDAQ Composite (the stock exchange where virtually all new dotcom companies were traded) hit a peak of 5,000.
Two months later, in May 2000, the NASDAQ composite had dropped to 3,300. On September 28, 2001 (as the nation reeled from 9/11), the NASDAQ dropped to 1,500. Another year later the market bottomed at 1,200. That's a 76% drop over two very painful years.
A company like SoftBank, with so much exposure to the internet sector, did not fare well in these difficult times. Every single investment Masayoshi Son had championed over the previous five years was decimated. As just one example, Softbank's $400 million investment in E*Trade was reduced to just $22 million. Softbank's market cap dropped a mind-numbing 98% from $180 billion to $2.5 billion. And with that drop, Masayoshi Son's net worth plummeted from an all time high of $76 billion to an all time low of $1.1 billion. A personal loss of $74.9 billion. Ouch.
That is officially the most money lost by an individual in human history.
Of course, Son ended up just fine. He was a billionaire the whole time, first of all, and second he eventually recovered a chunk of his former wealth. Today his net worth is $22 billion and he is back to being the richest person in Japan.
Much like fellow loss champion Jeff Bezos, he learned that being a mega-billionaire means being able to sustain incredible, unprecedented losses and still coming out rich.