Zuckerberg Becomes Centibillionaire after Trump Threatens TikTok Ban, Instagram Reels Launches

Despite a mass advertising boycott and internal criticism over his platform's policing of President Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg is richer than ever.

After Facebook stock enjoyed a surge of more than 6 percent this week following the official unveiling of the Instagram-based TikTok rival Reels, the 36-year-old founder and CEO found that he was no longer considered to be a mere billionaire.

With TikTok's future now increasingly unclear, and Facebook reporting a stronger than expected performance in Q2, Zuckerberg is now a centibillionaire, joining Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates in the $100 billion club, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Revealed on Wednesday, Reels has been pitched by Facebook as a "new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram," letting users edit 15 second clips over music or sound effects—taking more than a pinch of inspiration from TikTok.

Bloomberg Billionaires Index - 7 August 2020
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of 7 August 2020. Bloomberg Billionaires Index,

The Chinese-owned rival has found itself under heavy political pressure, with the Trump administration threatening to ban U.S. entities from doing business with its owners, a firm in Beijing called ByteDance, unless it is sold to an American company.

Microsoft confirmed last weekend that it was exploring such a deal, with a deadline set for mid-September. The progress of the acquisition remains unclear.

TikTok said in a statement today that it was "shocked" by Trump's executive order and indicated that it would now seek legal action in response to the threat.

While Zuckerberg has not commented officially on the matter, BuzzFeed News reported he told staff that banning the app would set a "really bad long-term precedent."

He reportedly told employees: "A lot of people are out there saying that this helps Facebook and my reaction to that is only in the most narrow sense.

Zuckerberg went on to say: "Yes, they are a competitor this year, and this month, next month maybe our engagement will go up. Maybe it will make Reels a bit easier just to roll out. But you don't run a company for the next month or the next quarter."

Facebook told Newsweek this week it doesn't yet have any stats to share about Reels' performance. Stephanie Chan, a mobile insights strategist with Sensor Tower, said that she couldn't share figures due to it being a feature inside the Instagram app.

Facebook appeared to brush aside negative coverage with the release of its Q2 results last week, beating analysts' expectations. It said that despite a mass ad boycott, a year-on-year ad revenue growth rate of 10 percent was expected to continue.

The social media giant revealed in its filings it enjoyed an average of 1.79 billion daily active users in June this year, an increase of 12 percent year-over-year.

Zuckerberg's wealth continued to rise after his recent appearance at an antitrust hearing alongside his peers from Google, Apple and Amazon. Addressing senators, he took a patriotic approach, describing Facebook as being a "proudly American company."

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg smiles at the conclusion of his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty