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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth surpassed $100 billion for the first time on Thursday after the company released its TikTok competitor, Reels.
Optimism in Facebook Inc. according to Mail Online, hit record levels following the release of the new Instagram feature which comes as TikTok faces a possible ban in the U.S. as the Trump administration cracks down on China.
Zuckerberg, 36, joins fellow tech colossi Jeff Besoz, founder and CEO of Amazon, and Bill Gates of Microsoft, as the only people in the world who currently have centibillionaire status (worth over $100bn), according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
The CEO co-founded Facebook from his Harvard dorm room in 2004, and still owns a 13% stake in the company while holding the position of the company’s chairman and controlling shareholder.
Stock in Facebook Inc. climbed by 6.5 per cent on Thursday, the day after it launched Reels on Instagram. The company itself is currently valued at roughly $720 billion.
The founders of America’s largest tech firms have seen huge levels of wealth accumulation this year during the coronavirus pandemic, which has driven more people than ever online.
Despite the U.S. economy contracting at a record rate, Zuckerberg has seen his wealth increase by $22 billion this year. Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, has gained more than $75 billion.
The country’s largest American tech companies – Facebook Inc, Apple, Amazon.com Inc., Alphabet and Microsoft Corp. – currently have market valuations equivalent to around 30% of U.S. gross domestic product – nearly double the levels in 2018.
The new Instagram Reels feature will let users record and edit 15-second videos with audio, and will let users add visual effects. Users will be able to share Reels with followers in Instagram in a dedicated section called Reels in Explore, or in the Story feature where posts disappear after 24 hours.
The Reels option will be available in the Instagram app. The company has been testing Reels in Brazil since November and in France, Germany and India since earlier this summer.
Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services. The Instagram ‘Story’ feature, which lets people share photos and videos that expire in 24 hours, is similar to Snapchat. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questioning about the company’s habit of copying rivals before a congressional hearing on July 29.
Facebook earlier launched a TikTok knockoff called Lasso in 2018, but closed that down in July. It also tried services similar to Snapchat called Slingshot and Poke before Instagram Stories caught on. But those were separate apps – it might have more success with a feature built into Instagram.
In fact, copying Snapchat’s features was successful for Instagram in part because Snapchat was difficult to figure out for new users.
They were already comfortable with Instagram. But TikTok is very easy to use – easier than Instagram – and part of its appeal is that you’re able to sit back and scroll endlessly with just swipes, without the need to follow anyone or post anything.