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Gates Slips From 'Richest Man' Status

Microsoft's Chairman Bill Gates has been supplanted as America's richest man, according to a revised Forbes Magazine ranking, using October 1 data. Gates now takes second place to Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, whose wealth Forbes estimated at $58 billion.

Gates had held the top richest spot for 15 years, but his wealth slipped from $57 billion in August to $55.5 billion in October, the magazine reported. Taking third place, at $25.4 billion, was Gates' ostensible nemesis, Larry Ellison, cofounder and CEO of Oracle Corp.

Gates told CNN in an interview broadcast on Monday that despite the financial turmoil in the stock markets, no crisis of capitalism was happening.

The markets have yet to show less turmoil since that time. One account described this week's market performance as "one of the worst weeks ever" for Wall Street. A newly passed $7 billion U.S. taxpayer funding plan, aimed at bailing out faltering banks and investment firms, has so far failed to staunch the red ink.

Coincidentally, Microsoft's stock fell to its lowest point in ten years, closing at a share price of $22.30.

Microsoft's board earlier took steps to shore up the company's market position by passing a $40 billion Microsoft stock buy-back plan, which was announced late last month.

Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's Business Division, expressed optimism that Microsoft's "affordable" software products will "play very well at these times," in a Friday interview reported by CNET blogger Ina Fried.

Microsoft's stock certainly wasn't the only one to take a dive. Yahoo's stock price closed at $12.29 per share on Friday, stoking notions that Microsoft might renew its unsolicited takeover bid for the online advertising company. Investment firm Mithras Capital offered a plan to sell its 1.9 million Yahoo shares to help make such a deal happen.

Microsoft currently holds the public position that it is only interested in acquiring Yahoo's search business. For its part, Yahoo has been seeking an ad revenue-sharing deal with Google to gain cash reserves and fend off Microsoft's advances.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.