(Update: So much has happened since this story was first published. Here's the key explanation of what Mark Zuckerberg must do now, after Facebook suffered the single worst day on Wall Street of any company in history.)
In total, it was $16.8 billion, gone--poof!--in about an hour, as Facebook's stock cratered on a disappointing earnings report.
Sure, the stock could rebound. Gone today, here tomorrow. We'll talk about that below.
(Update: In trading on Thursday morning, Facebook's stock continued to drop. As of 11:30 ET, the company was on pace to lose $115 billion in market value, which would be the largest single-day loss of any company in history. You can track Facebook's stock price here, and we'll update this post again by the end of the day.)
But it's something else entirely to try to grasp what $16.8 billion really represents--and along with it, the fields of absurdity on which our country's true icons of entrepreneurship are playing.
In less than one hour, Zuckerberg lost an amount equal to:
- the total nominal GDP of the entire country of Jamaica;
- about 1.7 times as much money as President Trump claims to have made in his entire lifetime;
- the entire market cap of Snap, or if you prefer, United Airlines;
- roughly the combined salaries of every single player in the NFL this year; or
- as much as and your 1,000 closest friends, family members, and acquaintances will make in your entire working careers combined, assuming you each work for 60 years at jobs that pay an average of $250,000 a year.
Sixty minutes or so. Gone. At least for now.
Of course Zuckerberg is still ridiculously wealthy. Even if his losses hold, he'd have about $70 billion according to Bloomberg, enough to make him the sixth-richest person on the planet.
But when he woke up Wednesday, he was #3.
So what happened? Pretty simple: Facebook's second quarter earning report came out, and it underperformed what analysts expected. Revenue was actually up--but not as much as investors had apparently factored into the share price.
And user growth is down, at least on Facebook itself, although the company was quick to point out, for the first time, that a total of 2.5 billion people use at least one of the company's apps each month, including WhatsApp and Instragram.
Maybe it will all rebound. It has before, although the challenges facing Facebook now seem particularly acute.
And by the time Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Facebook CFO David Wehner were finished taking questions on an analysts conference call, the company's stock had fallen 24 percent.
With it, Zuckerberg had lost a lot of money.
How much? Let's try one last analogy: enough to buy the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago Cubs, and San Francisco Giants.
And still have enough left over to pick up the Boston Red Sox, too.