Facebook co-founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a comeback in the top four of the billionaire’s list as he became over $27 billion richer on Friday with Meta’s quarterly profits exceeding the expectations of Wall Street.

Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg (REUTERS)

After releasing the company’s quarterly results, Meta shares were up by 20 percent. With a significant surge in his wealth, Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth crossed $169 billion on Friday, surpassing Bill Gates to move into the fourth spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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It’s a big comeback for Zuckerberg, whose wealth dropped below $35 billion in late 2022 as tech stocks collapsed in the face of inflation and interest rate hikes, only to soar in 2023.

Not just a spike in his net worth, but Mark Zuckerberg is also set to gain other perks from Meta stock hitting a record high, seeing its biggest one-day surge yet. The Facebook co-founder stands to receive a payout of about $700 million a year from the social media giant’s first-ever dividend for investors.

Meta announced a quarterly cash dividend of 50 cents a share for Class A and B common stock beginning in March. With Zuckerberg holding about 350 million shares, he would take home about $175 million in each quarterly payment before taxes, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Meta layoffs lead to stock surge

Meta has been employing major cost cutting measures, which has been credited as the reason behind the spike in share price. After Meta fired about 21,000 people and narrowed its priorities, the stock almost tripled in 2023.

The new dividend and an additional $50 billion in share buybacks may win more patience from investors with Zuckerberg’s long-term bets on artificial intelligence and the metaverse.

In October 2023, Meta announced a fresh round of layoffs in its Reality Lab’s division, which is mainly focused on meta-verse development. Zuckerberg earlier stated that most of the layoffs scheduled in the company will take place in spring this year.

Zuckerberg took home $27.1 million in total compensation in 2022, including private security costs and a base salary of $1, according to filings. Meta hasn’t yet reported executive compensation for last year.

(With inputs from Bloomberg)

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