The competitive pressures from shale may also feed into global gas markets...
2020-10-28 5 ENGLISH REPORTS
Other billionaires, on the wrong side of economic, technological, societal and environmental trends are becoming less wealthy. Contrast this polarization with most of the past decade, when steady growth and buoyant asset prices lifted billionaire wealth in all sectors. Most of the decade was a time of exceptional prosperity for billionaires regardless of sector, but in the last two years those using technology to change their business models, products and services have pulled ahead. The COVID-19 crisis just accentuated this divergence. While business innovators and disruptors are deploying technology for competitive advantage across all sectors, naturally the heartland of this activity is the technology, healthcare and industrial sectors, which clearly signal the polarization taking place (see page 17, What’s a billionaire “innovator” or “disruptor”?). During 2018, 2019 and the first seven months of 2020,4 technology billionaires’ total wealth rose by 42.5% to USD 1.8 trillion, supported by the surge in tech shares. Meanwhile, healthcare billionaires’ total wealth increased by 50.3% to USD 658.6 billion, boosted by a new age of drug discovery and innovations in diagnostics and medical technology, as well as latterly COVID-19 treatments and equipment. (Note our standard analysis period has been extended to take into account the effects of COVID-19.) Compare this to the smaller increase for the billionaire class as a whole. It rose by 19.1% to USD 10.2 trillion over 2018, 2019 and the first seven months of 2020.
Increasingly, business innovators are taking advantage of new technologies to gain a competitive edge and create new business models. Think of technologies like the Internet of Things, 3D printing, drones and artificial intelligence that are already being applied in businesses. Further into the future, imagine how quantum computing, neural interfaces, solid-state batteries and fuel cells might transform the global economy. Many of the innovators applying technology at scale in this way are already billionaires, while others are becoming wealthier as they drive change. Naturally, billionaire innovators are most common in sectors such as technology, healthcare and even industrials/manufacturing – where technology has powerful applications such as introducing robots to assembly lines – but it’s increasingly being applied in other sectors to varying degrees. A small number of these innovators are “disruptors”. Think of the people pioneering the production of electric cars for the mass market, or extending online retailing into new areas such as groceries. We have taken a multilayered approach to identifying “innovator and disruptor” billionaire-controlled companies that can be applied from the outside in or vice versa. Judged as the factors having the biggest impact on business disruption and innovation, the components we have analyzed are: disruptive business models, essential technologies and proven emerging technologies (see methodology page 41).
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