At least one person is winning big off the video-game phenomenon that is Fortnite: Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Fortnite developer Epic Games.
Fortnite reportedly generates $2.5 million a day in revenue, which helped Epic Games rake in $3 billion in profits in 2018. According to Bloomberg, Fortnite’s success also propelled Sweeney into the Bloomberg Billionaires Index after he amassed a $7.2 billion fortune this year. The index tracks the world’s 500 richest people, and Sweeney now ranks 194th. Business Insider notes that this valuation is based on the presumed sale of Epic Games stock during a venture fundraising round announced in October.
While this is Sweeney’s first appearance on the Bloomberg list, he is in the midst of a long and successful career in gaming. Sweeney founded Epic Games from his parents’ basement in 1991. He later launched Unreal Engine, a set of software tools for developers that also generates royalties for Epic Games. Unreal is responsible for many popular titles, such as Gears of War, Bioshock, and of course Fortnite.
While Fortnite is free to play, Epic earns revenue when players make in-game purchases that don’t actually affect performance, such as seasonal costumes or famous dance moves. In addition to being highly profitable, the game has become a global and cultural phenomenon, and has boosted the esports industry as a whole.
Sweeney was far from the biggest winner on Bloomberg’s list. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and the richest man in the world, topped the index for the second year in a row after growing his net worth to $123 billion in 2018, up $24 billion from last year. Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune suffered the most, dropping by almost $20 billion this year.
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Other individuals that added significantly to their net worth include Lei Jun, founder of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, and Colin Huang, founder of e-commerce company Pinduoduo. Georg Schaeffler, who owns one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world, and Amancio Ortega, founder of the Inditex fashion group that owns Zara, saw their fortunes decline. You can view the Bloomberg Billionaires Index in its entirety here.
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