Battle of Billionaires: Musk, Zuckerberg Strive to Break Free from Tim Cook's Shadow

Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook had an estimated wealth of $1.5 billion as of January this year. That made him the 2,083rd richest person in the world, far behind the fortunes of Mark Zuckerberg ($142 billion) and the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, with $189 billion to his name. 

But despite his comparatively modest net worth, Apple’s CEO is in a position to snuff out major swathes of Musk’s and Zuckerberg’s empires – and the two moguls know it. 

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Maybe you saw Musk’s tweet over the weekend that claimed, without providing evidence, that Apple was considering removing Twitter from its App Store – a move that would essentially cut off Twitter from the App Store’s billion users.

Musk also denounced Apple’s practice of taking a 30% cut on App Store sales and accused the company of cracking down on free speech. 

And on Tuesday, Meta Platforms Inc  CEO Mark Zuckerberg chimed in with grievances of his own. In a New York Times Interview, Zuckerberg said it was problematic for any one company to control what app experiences end up on a device while complaining that the “vast majority of profits in the mobile ecosystem go toward Apple.”

Luckily for Musk, a private meeting with Cook soon after seems to have cleared any confusion, with Musk tweeting his reassurances that Apple has no plans to remove Twitter from its App store.

But the App Store isn’t Apple’s only weapon against other tech titans. Tweaks to its terms of service or privacy policies can have devastating effects on other companies’ business models – as seen in January when a change to Apple’s iOS privacy policies resulted in a $10 billion hit to Meta’s annual revenue, according to Facebook parent Meta. 

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Can Meta, Tesla Inc and a host of other tech companies break free from Apple’s chokehold? Musk is already being called on to develop his own mobile device – but in the short-term, it looks like Apple’s dominance will be hard to shake off, thanks to brand loyalty that makes a presence in the App Store vital for fellow juggernauts, even while Apple felt the need to spend only $100 million advertising on Twitter last year. 

But Apple’s 1.5 billion devices aren’t the only battleground that tech wars will be fought in – and already one company is circumventing Apple’s hegemony in a unique way

Gameflip is a leading gaming marketplace startup that’s already sold $140 million in virtual game items on its platform. Used by six million people worldwide so far, it facilitates simple, safe transactions for all things digital – and while it’s available on the App Store, it’s also available on other outlets and, once installed, can be used to swap out some of the world’s most popular games between users, without any downloads from a third-party vendor. 

Gameflip is a startup with over $10 million in backing from venture capitalists – but it’s also available to regular investors.

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