Eight billionaires hold more wealth than 50% of households in Silicon Valley, nearly half a million people, according to a new report.
While the wealth gap narrowed by about 3% nationwide in 2021, it grew by 5% in the region, where tech companies have helped create a wave of millionaires and billionaires in recent years, according to the latest Silicon Valley Index.
“We have the highest wealth gap in nation,” said Russell Hancock, CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, which produces the index. “There are 85 billionaires in Silicon Valley, which is the third-largest concentration in the world behind New York and Hong Kong.”
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It takes just eight of those billionaires to equal the wealth of the bottom half of Silicon Valley’s residents, and the wealth of seven of the eight names comes from tech. They are Google
co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt, the longtime Google
chief executive. Also, there’s Meta Platforms Inc.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Nvidia Corp.
CEO Jensen Huang, WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum and Laurene Powell Jobs, who was married to Apple Inc.
co-founder Steve Jobs. The eighth person is finance giant Charles Schwab, who founded Charles Schwab Corp.
The combined wealth of those eight names — which includes cash, real estate and investments totaling at least $10 billion each — is $260 billion, according to data from Forbes as of December 2022 that was analyzed by Rachel Massaro, director of research for Joint Venture Silicon Valley’s Institute for Regional Studies.
|Charles Schwab||Charles Schwab Corp.||$11.9|
|Laurene Powell Jobs||Apple||$11.1|
Every year, Joint Venture releases the Silicon Valley Index to show the temperature of the region through various data sets. This year, the index took a look at the region’s wealth inequality with ultra-high-net-worth households included for the first time.
The index provides further proof that the coronavirus pandemic made the rich richer. From the report: “Particularly since the start of the Great Recession recovery period in 2010 — and exacerbated by the growth in the wealth divide during the first two years of the pandemic — Silicon Valley’s wealth inequality has grown even more drastic; in 2022, the top 10% of households held 66% of the wealth.”
There were also 22 other Silicon Valley residents, mostly from the tech industry, whose total wealth was estimated at $1 billion to $10 billion, for a combined total of $63 billion. They include venture capitalist John Doerr, Intel Corp.
co-founder Gordon Moore and real estate magnate John Sobrato.
Other stark illustrations of the growing wealth gap in the region include:
- Of Silicon Valley’s 163,000 millionaire households (those with more than $1 million in investable assets), about 8,300 have more than $10 million.
- On the other hand, about 220,000 Silicon Valley households have less than $5,000 in their bank accounts, Hancock said.
- Nearly one-third, or 28%, of households “did not earn enough money to meet their most basic needs without public or private/informal assistance.”
- Forty-two percent of kids in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties are living in households that aren’t self-sufficient, meaning they need government, church or some other type of assistance.
- About 2% of Silicon Valley households, or about 22,000, do not have bank accounts.
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