In the world of ranking rich people, the big news of the day is Bloomberg’s new real-time billionaire tracker, which will attempt update every day the wealth of the 20 richest people in the world.
The idea, presumably, is that enough of them have their wealth in public vehicles that it’s easy to figure out how much their wealth moves on a daily basis.
It’s all fun, except… we’ve been down this road before.
Back in 1999, CNET unveiled its CEO Wealth Meter, designed to track the wealth of tech CEOs, who regularly lost or made (usually made) billions in a day based on the change of their companies stock.
The Wealth Meter doesn’t exist anymore, and it’s hard to find traces of it on the web, although it’s referred to in this 2000 press release from CNET.
And here’s an article from 2000, about how the ranks of the billionaires had dramatically thinned that year.
David Wetherell, the chief executive officer of Internet investment company CMGI, ended the year as the biggest money loser. After starting out with CMGI shares valued at $2.1 billion, he ended the year with a “mere” $100 million, a 95 per cent decline.
CMGI investors, who have watched the comany’s shares plunge from $138.43 to about $6 during the year, have shown little sympathy for Wetherell’s personal $2 billion loss. At a recent CMGI shareholders meeting, some angry investors called for Wetherell’s resignation. The tone was a far cry from last year’s annual meeting, when many investors–giddy with a 870 per cent return on their shares–asked the CEO for his autograph.
Anyway, if history is any guide, when wealth meters come: RUN!
A crash is probably on its way.