Mark Zuckerberg became the 4th richest man after his fortune rose by $28.1 billion

It's a big comeback for Mark Zuckerberg's fortune

The Facebook co-founder's net worth rose to $28.1 billion as Meta's quarterly results beat Wall Street's expectations and sent its stock up nearly 20%. He is now worth $170.5 billion, the richest man ever, and has surpassed Bill Gates for fourth place on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Zuckerberg's fortune, which fell below $35 billion in late 2022, will rise again in 2023 as tech stocks tumbled due to inflation and interest rate hikes.

The upbeat results will also benefit Zuckerberg in other ways: He will receive about $700 million a year from the social media giant's first dividend to investors.

Meta declared a quarterly cash dividend of 50 cents per share on its Class A and B common shares beginning in March. While Zuckerberg owns about 350 million shares, he takes home $175 million before taxes in each quarterly payment, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Meta Platforms Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Washington, DC, US, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Congress is increasingly scrutinizing social media sites. The proliferation of harmful content can damage the mental health of young people. Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg

Meta's move to pay a dividend sends a signal about the company's view of its growth potential. Often, fast-growing tech companies eschew dividends in favor of using earnings to develop new products or make expensive acquisitions. As Meta spends heavily on artificial intelligence initiatives, its acquisition prospects are dwindling due to regulatory opposition.

Shares nearly tripled in 2023 after Meta laid off about 21,000 people and scaled back its priorities. The new dividend and an additional $50 billion in share buybacks could prompt more patience from investors in Zuckerberg's long-term bets on artificial intelligence and metawares.

Zuckerberg is taking home $27.1 million in total compensation through 2022, which includes private security costs and a base salary of $1. Meta has not yet disclosed executive compensation for the past year.

A company spokesperson declined to comment.

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