Bill Gates Would Be Richer Than Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos Combined If He Held onto Microsoft

That’s a lot of money.
Ameya Paleja
Bill Gates during an eventMasaru Kamikura/Wikimedia Commons

Over the past few days, we have been covering how Tesla CEO Elon Musk's personal worth has been soaring along with the company's stock prices. Even as Musk enjoys his time at the top, leaving fellow space rival Jeff Bezos behind, there was an obvious question that needed answering. Where would Bill Gates be, had he not sold his shares in Microsoft?

Gates co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen back in 1975. The company was private for over a decade after eventually going public in 1986. As the popularity of personal computers increased, Microsoft went on to become the world's most valuable company in 1998. At the time, Gates owned $2.6 billion worth of shares at the company, Bloomberg reported.  

Gates, however, stepped down from his position as CEO, a couple of years later but remained on the board of Microsoft for two more decades. It was only when he decided to leave the board in 2020 and spend more time on his philanthropic activities that Gates decided to do away with majority stock and reduced his ownership in the company to just over one percent. With such a minor hold, Gates is still the fourth richest person in the world, adding about $6.5 billion to his net worth over the last year. 

Bloomberg did the math to calculate how much Gates would be worth today if he had held onto the two billion shares that he held in 1998. The answer is a whopping $693 billion. That's just three billion less than the combined personal worth of the top three people on the Billionaires list. Or just above the Gross Domestic Produce (GDP) of Saudi Arabia or Switzerland. 

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Buoyed by the digital push of the pandemic, Microsoft recently overtook Apple to become the world's most valuable company. Had Gates held on to his shares, he would have been far out of the reach of Musk and Bezos on the richest person list and we probably wouldn't have been writing about Musk at all since even after his recent meteoric rise, he would have an Everest to climb ahead of him. That's a lot of money.

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