There Are Now a Record Number of Billionaires—With Taylor Swift and 19-Year-Old Brazilian Heiress Livia Voigt Joining the List - Kanebridge News
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There Are Now a Record Number of Billionaires—With Taylor Swift and 19-Year-Old Brazilian Heiress Livia Voigt Joining the List

By MICHAEL KAMINER
Fri, Apr 5, 2024 7:30amGrey Clock 3 min

For celebrities like Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Tiger Woods, and Steven Spielberg, fame is bringing fortune.

They’re among 14 performers, athletes, and entertainment moguls―along with Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Michael Jordan― on the 2024 Forbes World’s Billionaires List, which the media company released this week. The annual ranking “has seen an explosion in celebrity billionaires in recent years,” Forbes said in a statement.

Topping the roster of fortunes: LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault , with an estimated net worth of US$233 billion―up from US$211 billion last year. Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk ranked second, with a US$195 billion war chest, up from US$180 billion in 2023. Just a billion dollars short of second place, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos placed third with US$194 billion, or $80 billion more than a year ago.

LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault topped the list with an estimated net worth of US$233 billion.
Getty Images

Tech titans dominate the rest of the top 10, which includes Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg (US$177 billion), Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison (US$141 billion), Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett (US$133 billion), Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates (US$128 billion), former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (US$121 billion), Reliance Industries honcho Mukesh Ambani (US$116 billion), and Google co-founder Larry Page (US$114 billion.)

Swift made her debut on the list this year, along with 262 other “new billionaires” including shoe mogul Christian Louboutin, 19-year-old Brazilian heiress Livia Voigt, and NBA legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

For Swift, worth an estimated US$1.2 billion, it’s the second star turn on a rich list this month. Last week, Swift made her first appearance on the 13th Hurun Global Rich Report, an annual survey from China-based media and research firm Hurun.

But the ultra wealthy had a very good year regardless of name recognition. The world now has more billionaires than ever, Forbes reported, with 2,781 in all. That adds up to 141 more than last year’s list, and 26 more than a record 2,755 billionaires set in 2021.

The richer are also richer, according to the list. Billionaires’ aggregate worth is now US$14.2 trillion, up US$2 trillion from 2023―and US$1.1 trillion above the previous record, also set in 2021, Forbes said.

Taylor Swift made her debut on the list this year with an estimated US$1.2 billion.
Getty Images

A “flurry” of billionaires are getting rich through the AI “gold rush,” according to Forbes.

“The poster child for all this is Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jensen Huang ,” whose company’s stock surged 300% over the past year. Open AI CEO Sam Altman , who briefly lost control of his company last year, also made the list, owing to canny investments in his former role as head of VC firm Y Combinator.

The U.S. leads in billionaires, with a record 813 worth a total US$5.7 trillion. China ranked second, with 473 billionaires whose combined net worth is US$1.7 trillion. India set a record with 200 billionaires this year. Forbes said it calculated wealth using stock prices and currency exchange rates as of March 8. Two-thirds of the billionaires on the list emerged wealthier than a year ago; one-third have lost money.

Forbes’ list diverged from the Hurun rich list, where Musk reigned as the world’s wealthiest and Bezos and Arnault ranked second and third, respectively. The Hurun list was even richer, ranking 3,279 billionaires, up from 3,112 the previous year. The number of billionaires increased by 5% and their total wealth was up 9%, Hurun said.



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More meetings and faceless chats. Fewer work friends. How the modern workday is fuelling an epidemic of isolation.

By TE-PING CHEN
Wed, May 29, 2024 5 min

More Americans are profoundly lonely, and the way they work—more digitally linked but less personally connected—is deepening that sense of isolation.

Nick Skarda , 29 years old, works two jobs in logistics and office administration in San Diego to keep up with his bills. After a couple of years at the logistics job, he has one friend there. He says hi to co-workers at his office job but doesn’t really know any.

“I feel sort of an emptiness or lack of belonging,” he says. Juggling two jobs leaves Skarda exhausted, with little energy or time to grab drinks with co-workers . “It makes it harder to go in and give it your all if you don’t feel like anyone is there rooting for you,” he adds.

Employers and researchers are just beginning to understand how workplace shifts over the past four years are contributing to what the U.S. surgeon general declared a loneliness health epidemic last year. The alienation affects remote and in-person workers alike. Among 1-800-Flowers.com ’s 5,000 hybrid and fully on-site employees, for instance, the most popular community chat group offered by a company mental-health provider is simply called “Loneliness.”

Consider these phenomena of modern work:

It is a marked shift from even a decade ago, when bonds fostered at work helped compensate for declining participation in church , community groups and other social institutions. As the American workday becomes more faceless and scheduled , the number of U.S. adults who call themselves lonely has climbed to 58% from 46% in 2018, according to a recent Cigna poll of 10,000 Americans.

The faceless workday

The disconnection is driving up staff turnover and worker absences, making it a business issue for more employers, executives and researchers say. Cigna, the health-insurance company, estimates that loneliness is costing companies $154 billion a year in absenteeism alone.

“Work is social, it’s a lot more than a paycheck,” says James McCann , founder and chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com.

Earlier this year, 1-800-Flowers.com moved from three days in the office to four to boost a sense of connectivity among workers. It has also begun tapping workers across teams to serve as designated hosts during lunchtime, encouraging people to sit with colleagues they don’t know in common areas and chat, and suggesting conversation topics.

While today’s workers have more ways to connect than ever, “there are only so many memes and jokes you can send over Slack,” says Maëlle Gavet , chief executive of Techstars, a pre-seed fund that has invested in 4,100 startups. “We tend to have more and more people with back-to-back calendars, more meetings and less connections.”

Gavet says that is especially the case for hybrid workers on in-office days, which they tend to use to dash from one meeting to the next.

Paradoxically, meetings can make people feel lonelier—and even more so if the meetings are virtual, behavioural researchers say. A 2023 survey by employee experience and analytics company Perceptyx found people who described themselves as “very lonely” tended to have heavier meeting loads than less-lonely staffers. More than 40% of those people spent more than half their work hours in meetings.

In Cincinnati, Kelly Roehm says she came to chafe at the meetings—sometimes as many as 12—consuming her day after joining a consulting company in 2021. She would often feel her eyes glazing over as she multitasked on other screens.

“It’s like you’re a zombie, there but not there,” says Roehm, who lived 10 minutes from the office but worked mostly remotely because she says few colleagues typically came in. It is a more common setup as companies distribute teams across more locations: At Microsoft , 27% of the company’s teams all worked in the same location last year, compared with 61% in 2019.

She compares that experience with her time more than a decade ago at a company now owned by AstraZeneca . There, she enjoyed lots of social outlets at work: a Weight Watchers group and a lunchtime crochet club.

“Now if I were to think about asking, ‘Hey, do you want to participate in something like this,’ it would just sound weird,” says Roehm, who left this year to focus on her own career-consulting business. “There wasn’t that emotional attachment that made it difficult to say, it’s time to move on.”

The power of small talk

Office chitchat, sometimes an unwanted distraction, seems to provide more benefits than many people realize, says Jessica Methot , an associate professor at Rutgers University who studies social ties at work.

In a study of 100 employees at different workplaces, Methot and fellow researchers surveyed participants at points throughout the day. They found those who had engaged in small talk reported less stress and more positivity toward co-workers.

Even exchanging pleasantries with a co-worker you barely know can help, says Sarah Wright , an associate professor at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury who studies worker loneliness.

“We used to think loneliness has to be overcome by developing meaningful relationships and having that degree of intimacy,” Wright says. “More and more, though, we’re seeing it’s these day-to-day weak ties and frequency of [interactions] with people that matters.”

Such interactions are substantially harder to replicate in a virtual environment. “The default now is, I have to schedule time with you, even if it’s five minutes, instead of just picking up the phone,” says Katie Tyson , president of Hive Brands, an online food retailer founded in 2020 as a fully remote company.

The frictions add up, she says. Last fall, the company added an office in New York where employees voluntarily gather a couple of times a week to foster more cohesion.

Coming to the office, even on a hybrid basis, tends to yield a roughly 20% to 30% boost in serendipitous connections, according to Syndezo, which analysed survey data and email and messaging traffic from more than two dozen large companies.

Yet there are diminishing returns to time in person, says Philip Arkcoll , founder of Worklytics, which analyses workforce data for Fortune 500 companies. Coming in once a month provides a significant boost in ties; two or three times a month adds a little more, Worklytics data show. Once or twice a week results in a smaller increase, though, and working in-person four or five days a week makes almost no difference.

A business priority

Ernst & Young has asked managers to use the first five minutes of team calls to engage in conversation “as real human beings,” says Frank Giampietro , whose title, chief well-being officer for the Americas, was created in 2021 to help support employees during the pandemic.

The professional-services firm is also training employees to spot and reach out to co-workers struggling with issues such as isolation. To date, more than 1,600 employees have taken the training.

One challenge is that American workers have sacrificed connection for productivity, says Julie Rice , co-founder of fitness chain SoulCycle. These days, with more business contacts preferring video calls, she finds breakfast meetings and coffee dates on her calendar have been replaced with Zoom. Though efficient, such video calls are less likely to yield conversations that can turn into useful professional connections or lasting friendships, she says.

“Even people I’m meeting with here in New York, we’ll just Zoom,” she says.

Last year, Rice co-founded Peoplehood, a company that runs “gathers” to improve connectivity and relationship skills, and employers are signing up. One, a beauty-services business with hundreds of field employees who never see each other, asked Peoplehood to host a series of gatherings for workers to meet and share job advice. Another, a marketing company with far-flung employees, requested help after surveys showed staff wanted to feel more connected.

“Whatever relationships we had pre-Covid have sort of run out of gas,” Rice says.

Good luck prodding employees to socialise, though. Nearly all the 150-odd staff at the Pleasanton, Calif., headquarters of Shaklee, the nutrition-supplements company, used to attend annual Earth Day gatherings, which involved community service, lunch and breaking early for the day, says Jonathan Ramot , the company’s North American human-resources director. Office happy hours, bowling outings and “mix and mingles” were also robustly attended.

Now that the workforce has gone remote, last year’s Earth Day event attracted 20 staffers, even though most workers live nearby.

“We have a lot of people asking for in-person events, but when we plan them, they don’t show up,” Ramot says. “Then they complain they’re lonely.”

This past April, Shaklee instead held a mandatory get-together with the chief executive, who had relocated to Florida during the pandemic and was in town. About 100 employees gathered at a brewery for food, drinks and conversation—and no speeches from the bosses.

There was a buzz in the air, Ramot says, as staff hugged and delighted in seeing each other, some for the first time. “People were saying, I miss this,” he says.