Australia’s billionaires have taken a huge hit to their fortunes amid the tech bloodbath that has seen share prices plummet, billions wiped off valuations and some companies sacking staff.
Afterpay’s co-founders, who scored a $39 billion deal when US digital payments company Square acquired the company, have suffered some of the most brutal losses.
Ex-neighbours and now co-CEOs Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen started buy now, pay later company Afterpay in 2014, based on the idea that Millennials prefer cashless and credit-free lifestyles.
Yet Mr Molnar has seen his $2.1 billion fortune from 2021 plunge to a mere $681.9 million this year.
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His co-founder Mr Eisen had amassed riches of $2.5 billion but it had also dropped to $681.9 million.
Recently, the Afterpay founders were revealed to be Australia’s highest paid chief executives with each taking home a record $264.2 million pay packet between them – or the equivalent of 2800 times the average full-time wage.
Overall, technology stocks plummeted by 35 per cent in the last financial year.
It has also seen the owner of online retailer Kogan, whose company has recorded a fall of 10 per cent in its gross profit and has been undertaking a number of cost cutting measures, see his fortune slashed.
Ruslan Kogan wealth was $183.6 million last year, but this has slid a staggering amount down to $44.1 million this year.
Then there’s buy now, pay later provider Zip, which has been battling a number of headwinds including a deal to merge with US player Sezzle abandoned, its share price down 80 per cent this year, while it also closed its money management app that it acquired for $7.5 million.
Zip’s founder Larry Diamond hasn’t escaped his company woes with his 2021 fortune, estimated to be $412.8 million dropping to a measly $24.8 million in 2022.
Combined the four tech founders have lost close to $6 billion in the last financial year.
It comes as Australian tech darling, graphic design giant Canva dropped in value by a “brutal” $20 billion according to one venture capital firm.
But software billionaire and CEO of WiseTech Global Richard White, who has seen the company’s share price fall by 40 per cent in the first half of this year and has a net worth of $4.7 billion, has been in the tech scene for the past 25 years.
He urged other tech founders not to get spooked by the wild market swings and to stay the course on their investment planning.
“Technology is a growth sector and it’s growth far outstrips any other sector. When you’re talking about technology to infuse competitive advantage and efficiency and effectiveness into a business, there is an enormous unmet demand for that sort of solution in every industry, whether it’s banking, mining or in our case logistics, every other industry,” he told the Australian Financial Review.
“Over the long term, technology stocks, all of them, are going to be better, more valuable and fundamentally better for the economy because they are transformational, they make everything else in the economy better.“