Richest man in 2030?
— 🇷🇺 ANATꙮLY 🤔 KARLIN (@akarlin88) February 17, 2021
Currently jostling in the top rankings: Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Elon Musk (Tesla), both at around $200B.
Amazon is a mature company that dominates the US e-commerce market and has substantial fingerprints abroad (about a third of revenue). Also not to be underrated is AWS, which accounts for a third of the global cloud computing market.
There’s nothing on the horizon that could conceivably undercut his position. Amazon is a very good company and, short of the Democrats’ leftist wing seizing control of the party, there’s no obvious political risks to its quasi-monopoly. Scope for foreign expansion is limited, as the big markets will see their own e-commerce giants consolidate (e.g. Ozon in Russia). But there’s still plenty of scope to grow out e-commerce within its core territories of the US and Western Europe through further technological progress in things like drone deliveries and AI. Although brick and mortar stores will recover come the end of the Corona saga, there is no reason to think it will be anything but a very temporary reprieve.
Bezos is leaving Amazon to focus on Blue Origin, the main competitor to SpaceX. This can either explode or stay where it is. But I believe that Amazon by itself should see Bezos get steady gainz to at least $0.5T (inflation-adjusted).
Tesla has established itself as the Apple of electric vehicles. Elon Musk is such a cult figure – the Steve Jobs of our days – they he doesn’t even need to spend any time on advertising his car, so eager are people to buy it. Musk Tweets, “Doge jump!”, his adoring fans reply, “How high?” Brian Wang, who predicted Musk would emerge as the world’s richest man for years, says Tesla still has a quintupling ahead of it. Certainly a bold call, considering that many skeptics are calling even today’s valuations grossly overestimated. Then again, Tesla isn’t just the cars, but also the battery business and self-driving suite. And with his record, you’d have to be bold to bet against him. If that happens, Tesla will propel Musk to the trillion dollar mark just by itself.
Musk doesn’t actually care very much about money (it’s clear he views this entire things with stocks and crypto as only so many ultimately meaningless numbers) so this makes him much bolder about pursuing bold pie in the sky visions. This is a high risk, high reward strategy that will either knock him off his perch or send him into the trillions in a way that I just don’t see happening with the more “normie” Bezos.
The ur-example of this is SpaceX, which is tentatively valued at $70B. It already dominates (60%) the $10B a year space launch market, in the process eating Roscosmos’ lunch. It is currently being used to set up Starlink, a satellite Internet constellation that will IPO at a likely market cap of $30B. Space tourism will follow. Currently costs $20M and you need connections. Starship flight to LEO could be as low as $20,000. That’s less than the cost of an Arctic cruise on a Russian nuclear icebreaker. There are 6 million HNWI in the US and more than 20 million in the world. Air cargo market is $140B a year. Starship transport could take away a chunk of that in areas where value / unit mass is sufficient high and just in time delivery is a priority. Commercial air traffic is $600B/year. Assume its $2M per Starship flight (half of it fuel, half operating costs). Yes, expensive, for the 100 passengers that a Starship is designed to take to Mars. But that’s for a trip lasting months. If you pack a Starship like you would a commercial airliner, you could get something like 500 people on board. 2M/500=$4,000 per ticket for a 40 minute trip from New York to Beijing. That’s exactly the price of a 3 hour TransAtlantic Concorde flight. There was big demand for it in the 1980s and there will be much bigger demand for it in the much richer and more unequal 2030s.
I have long been a Tesla skeptic. While I did not explicitly endorse the outside article published on my blog that Tesla is “going to zero” back in 2019, I did not exclude the chances of that happening. Certainly I did not invest in it. However, I have always been quite bullish on SpaceX, extremely so once they demonstrated rocket reusability. I ask you, if Elon Musk can wring $800B out of Tesla, what can he do with SpaceX? Do you feel comfortable betting against him? This is potentially trillions of dollars of future value, military dual-use capacity, political influence – this is scope for then getting into seriously into things like nuclear propulsion which you need for extra-terrestrial expansion.
But even if SpaceX doesn’t pan out, there are multiple other ambitious projects in which Musk can strike it big, creating the equivalent of a second Tesla or even bigger.
The Boring Company promises to dig tunnels at a rate 10x faster than existing TBM’s. High hurdles, as these are mature technologies, with well established materials science limits (mainly to do with heat dissipation). But if successful, there remain plenty of tunnels to be dug out in traffic-congested American cities, and subways to be built in the urbanizing Third World.
OpenAI is considered the second most advanced AI company after DeepMind and probably ahead of Google AI. The potential ramifications need hardly be spent out.
Not all of these projects need to succeed. Just a couple or even one of them going parabolic could easily propel Musk into trillionaire status, if Tesla is insufficient.
“Satoshi Nakamoto”, the anonymous inventor of Bitcoin, has 1.1M Bitcoins. That translates into about $50B today and trillionaire status if/when Bitcoin goes to a million.
Just matching the world’s total amount of gold assets, which are valued at $10T, will already see Bitcoin at $500,000.
But #DeFi is going to eat most of traditional finance and will pull Bitcoin as the default “flight to safety” asset within the crypto ecosystem. I expect to see $1M Bitcoin within the decade.
— halfin (@halfin) January 11, 2009
Only problem is that we still have no idea who Satoshi Nakamoto is or whether he is even still alive. As such, should he count? Unless he credibly outs himself as Satoshi, he is not appearing in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Mark Zuckerberg is #5 thanks to Facebook (and Instagram) at $100B.
However, the younger generations no longer really use Facebook, which is becoming increasingly unwieldy. It was very hip and cool in the mid-2000s, to get one you needed a US academic email and it was considered highly prestigious relative to the likes of MySpace or Bebo (Britain). Now it’s the preserve of boorish and overly politicized boomers. (Not cool)
The Winklevoss twins bought $11M of BTC at $120 a coin (Apr 2013). If preserved, that investment would now be $4.5B. $1M BTC around 2030 means they converge with Zuck.
Or overtake him entirely, if decentralized alternatives (urbit?) cardinally replace Facebook.
Funny if so, then the Winklevosses would end up having the last laugh.
That said, Zuckerberg does have big exposure to VR (e.g. Oculus), so depending on how that pans out I wouldn’t write him off completely just yet.
It could be some currently little known Chinese techie. Chinese consumer market is half the size of the American one and Chinese e-commerce market is already much bigger than the American one.
Considering that the Chinese tech ecosystem is “self-contained” from the American/global one, then if Chinese GDP indeed comes to drastically exceed America’s – as simple human capital/population comparisons would suggest – then the world’s biggest tech companies will become Chinese. Taiwan’s TSMC is already in the world’s top 10. Imagine what China’s what look like – even bearing the political “discount” given to companies operating in a space with lower rule of law and property rights protections. (Not that this American advantage may hold indefinitely, given SJW infiltration of institutions).
Main argument against Chinese trillionaire is that CPC really doesn’t want to see emergence of such wealth concentrations and has aggressively pruned oligarchs that got too big for their breeches.
The richest current Chinese billionaire, Zhong Shanshan, is a bottled water tycoon… Says it all.
That said, if I had to nominate one totally “dark horse” candidate…
Changpeng Zhao runs Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange by far. (The second biggest, Huobi, is also Chinese). His 2021 net worth was $2.7B and that was before the TENfold explosion in the Binance Coin this week. Now, he’s probably at least $10B.
Many things have to go just right for him to go up another couple of orders of magnitude.
Most important, BNB needs to flip ETH as the dominant smart contract token and for that to happen the Binance Smart Chain needs to topple Ethereum supremacy. I don’t think that is happening because Ethereum has first mover advantage, is too well established with its own ecosystem, and BSC is also highly centralized, which undermines the main raison d’etre of crypto (and if BSC was to decentralize, it will bump up against the same scalability problems that Ethereum is struggling with).
But should that happen then BNB would have gone up another order of magnitude.
Then he will be in the driving seat of the next crypto explosion and however many more orders of magnitude there is still left to go there. Controlling the world’s dominant CEX will also provide unlimited arbitrage possibilities.
This would easily propel him into the trillions of dollars.