Apr 19, 2022 - Economy

America's silent billionaires

Social media posts mentioning billionaires in the last three months
Data: Keyhole, Forbes; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

While Elon Musk makes waves by trying to bend the world to his vision, most of American's richest individuals are happy to enjoy their wealth with more anonymity.

Why it matters: America's corporate titans — from the Rockefellers to the Waltons — have long been household names. But Musk, and to an extent Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, have hit a new level of superstardom by embarking on pursuits beyond their cash cows.

Driving the news: Over the past three months, Musk, the world's richest person, has generated seven times more mentions on social media than Bezos, number two on the Forbes billionaire list, according to data from Keyhole.

  • He has generated 86 times more mentions than LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, number three on the list.

Musk, Bezos, Gates and Michael Bloomberg in particular have sought to leverage their success into more fame, influence or power.

  • While Bezos isn't as publicly vocal as Musk, he certainly enjoys the celebrity limelight. The New York Post reported on his double date with Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian last week. Amazon's pursuit of movies has launched Bezos into the Hollywood spotlight.
  • Steve Ballmer has also ventured well beyond his original source of success by owning the Los Angeles Clippers.

The other side: Tech royalty Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Larry Ellison have not ventured far afield from their original sources of wealth.

Go deeper