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California Movers And Shakers: Who To Watch In 2023


CALIFORNIA – Many California movers and shakers took a haircut in 2022, and 2023 could be worse.

From Silicon Valley to Hollywood, the Golden State’s wealthiest and most powerful residents are largely less wealthy and powerful now than they were at the start of the year.

A year that began with hopes of a return to a semblance of pre-pandemic normalcy quickly went sideways as a hypercontagious subvariant raged, inflation soared, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia plunged Europe into its biggest post-World War II military conflict.

Find out what’s happening in San Franciscowith free, real-time updates from Patch.

California has proven itself to be resilient, but if 2022 taught us anything, it’s that the world’s fifth largest economy isn’t impervious to global events.

At the start of the year, Elon Musk was the world’s richest man, Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta was valued at nearly a trillion dollars, and crypto Svengali Sam Bankman-Fried accumulated some $26.5 billion as a 20-something.

Find out what’s happening in San Franciscowith free, real-time updates from Patch.

Musk is no longer the world’s richest man. He’s gained attention for erratic behavior since purchasing Twitter for $44 billion, plunging the social media company into chaos. Along with a hit to his reputation as an eccentric genius, Musk lost an estimated $100 billion in 2022.

Zuckerberg’s risky bet on a virtual future hasn’t played well on Wall Street. The company has lost nearly two-thirds of its value this year, making it among the S&P 500’s worst performers of 2022.

The Facebook founder has already bet more than $15 billion on the company’s Reality Labs division, according to the report.

Bankman-Fried is facing criminal charges in connection with the collapse of FTX, the cryptocurrency exchange he founded, and the Stanford-born, Crystal Springs Upland prep school alum is reportedly broke.

Rodeo Drive hasn’t fared much better than Sand Hill Road.

Movie ticket audiences have shrunk 30 percent since pre-pandemic levels, and there’s no indication they’re coming back as the proliferation of streaming services and 4K televisions have dramatically enhanced the home theater experience.

Leaders of businesses large and small throughout the Golden State and beyond face headwinds and uncertainty going into the New Year.

The Federal Reserve’s aggressive fiscal policy has roiled markets and, in particular, Silicon Valley, where valuations are based largely on projected earnings. When the cost of borrowing money gets more expensive, venture capitalists tend to be less inclined to wait around for projected earnings to materialize.

After well over a decade of low-interest rates in the aftermath of the Great Recession, the Fed has raised rates four times this year, triggering a stock slide that, as of late September, torched $9 trillion in American household wealth.

The Fed on Dec. 14 raised rates 50 basis points, bringing the cost of borrowing money to between 4.25 percent of 4.5 percent.

But inflation remains high, and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters earlier this month rates could go higher next year.

“There’s an expectation, really, that the services inflation will not move down so quickly, so we’ll have to stay at it,” he said. “We may have to raise rates higher to get where we want to go.”

It is against this tough backdrop that those who typically shape events may find themselves in 2023 responding to events — just like the rest of us.

Here’s a look at who to watch in 2023:

ELON MUSK

For what it’s worth, Musk on Tuesday committed to stepping down as CEO of Twitter after a poll he conducted on Twitter – the results of which he promised to abide by – indicated most of the social media site’s users want him out.

But as the tech entrepreneur often does, he appeared to be speaking in riddles, promising to step down “as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!”

Musk’s stewardship of Twitter has had implications for Tesla investors. The electric car maker’s stock shed nearly 60 percent of its market value in 2022, with the stock plunging precipitancy since the Twitter deal closed Oct. 28.

MARK ZUCKERBERG

The Meta CEO is facing backlash from investors over Zuckerberg’s costly virtual reality venture.

The company has poured more than $36 billion into its Reality Labs division, and the investment has so far returned just $5.3 billion in revenue.

Jim Tierney, AllianceBernstein’s chief investment officer for US growth and a Meta shareholder, was among those who blasted Zuckerberg at a late-October investor conference, The Financial Times reports.

“If any other company had done this you’d have activist investors writing letters, proposing alternative slates of directors, demanding change,” Tierney said.

“I think Mark heard crystal clear what investors wanted. He’s made his decision.”

TIM COOK

The Apple CEO has faced backlash in recent years but for very different reasons than Zuckerberg.

Cook in 2021 signed a secretive $275 billion dollar deal with China aimed at paving the way for future growth, for which he drew harsh criticism.

But all indications are point to a souring relationship between the Cupertino tech giant and Beijing in recent months, and Apple is now planning to source its supplies from other countries, such as India and Vietnam.

A move to decrease reliance on Chinese supplies and labor could have geopolitical and national security implications.

ROBERT IGER

Disney’s former CEO has returned to lead the beleaguered company, and the popular business leader has promised to decentralize creative decision-making at the entertainment behemoth.

But Robert Iger acknowledged that Disney will be ushering in what The Hollywood Reporter characterized as an “austerity era.”

KEVIN MCCARTHY

The House minority leader is on the brink of winning the speakership he’s long coveted, but McCarthy isn’t going anywhere until he resolves a rift within his own party.

McCarthy has the backing of former President Donald Trump and far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia), but 31 Republican House members last month voted against him for the position.

Should he succeed, McCarthy would hold the most prominent position for a California Republican since Ronald Reagan stepped down as president in 1989.

McCarthy’s ascension to the speakership would likely be a boon for a GOP that hasn’t won a statewide election since 2006.

KAREN BASS

The newly-elected Los Angeles mayor is the first woman ever elected to that role in California’s largest city. She swept into office, promising to prioritize the homeless crisis. In her first week, she declared an emergency and issued an executive directive that streamlines the approval process for affordable housing projects.

Bass was on Joe Biden’s vice-presidential shortlist in 2020, and if her plan works, the mayorship would likely catapult her into the conversation for a possible 2026 gubernatorial run.


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