Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Warren Buffett. File photos: REUTERS
Mark Zuckerberg, left, and Warren Buffett. File photos: REUTERS

New York — Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is poised to leapfrog Warren Buffett to become the world’s third-richest person.

Zuckerberg, more than a half-century younger than the Berkshire Hathaway chairman, is now worth $81.3bn, gaining $8.5bn this year as Facebook shook off a data-privacy crisis that caused its stock to tumble 18%. Its rebound from a closing low of $152.22 on March 27 to a record $201.45 at 9.45am on Wednesday in New York narrowed the gap with Buffett to $725m, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The recovery in Facebook shares has rewarded other insiders as well, including chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, who’s now worth $1.8bn, and chief technology officer Michael Schroepfer, whose 0.05% holding is valued at $224m.

Zuckerberg also trails Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person with a $143.6bn fortune on Tuesday, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, with $92.7bn. The Bloomberg index ranks the world’s 500 richest people and is updated after the close of each trading day in New York.

Buffett, 87, once the world’s wealthiest person, is sliding in the ranking thanks to his charitable giving, which he kicked off in earnest in 2006. He’s donated about 290-million Berkshire Hathaway Class B shares to charities, most of it to Gates’s foundation. Those shares are now worth more than $50bn, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Zuckerberg has pledged to give away 99% of his Facebook stock in his lifetime.

With assistance from Jack Witzig