back to article Bill Gates is once again the richest man on Earth

Ex-Microsoftie Bill Gates is the richest man on the planet once more, having wrested the title back from Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim with a cool $78.5bn. Just to put that in perspective, Gates is worth more than Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, web tat bazaar eBay or credit card moguls American Express by the end of 2013, …

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  1. jake Silver badge

    The rich get richer ...

    ... and the rest of us get poorer.

    Same ol' same ol'. I am not impressed. There is more to life than money.

    1. FunkyEric

      Re: The rich get richer ...

      Can I have yours then?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Perspective please

        This guy is giving away billions to charity, it's just that he has so much he can't spend the interest fast enough.

        Give him his due though, it's not wrong to want to make money and be rich, but he is quite the philanthropist when it comes to giving money away.

        He recently gave away 10 billion dollars for vaccines. To date he has given away over 20 billion dollars to charities. So come on, put the green eyed monster away.

        1. Outcast

          Re: Perspective please

          He's trying to buy his way out of his one way ticket to hell

          Clue: Diablo doesn't care about money !

          ;-)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Perspective please

          Here's some perspective for you then, Microsoft makes huge profit margins on products that in many key sectors are still near monopolies. They have been pushing up prices in a number of ways this past year or two. That's them taking from you and me, well me and other businesses at least. In the not too distant past in a year when they made like 20 billion in profit they laid off thousands of workers, because, you know everyone was doing that during the great recession. They could have put those workers into training programs or just kept them on working on interesting new projects, but you know Ballmer and Gates needed their bonuses and stock dividends and you might have to do with a little less of them if the profit margin dips a little during a recession.

        3. jgarbo
          Devil

          Re: Perspective please

          Not exactly. The "donations" are tax deductible investments in, eg, vaccine companies, and will return even higher profits for him, probably at a lower tax rate. No billionaire just gives money away - or he'd never have made it in the first place. Wake up, Gates is a scheming rotten bugger with a very good PR cover.

          Me, I've got enough.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: The rich get richer ...

      It's not like Gates is spending his time trying to get richer. It seems he literally can't give his money away faster than he accrues it!

      Also - I didn't get poorer. Did you?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The rich get richer ...

        I will when I lose my job this summer. I believe that I am not alone in the current situation.

        1. AMBxx Silver badge

          Re: The rich get richer ...

          You've got 6 months notice. Get on with doing something about it. I've been made redundant twice, plus jumped once before company went bust. Within 6 months I was better off each time. Would never go back to permanent employment.

          1. Chris Miller

            Re: The rich get richer ...

            Never forget that there are three things you cannot buy with dollars*: happiness; the respect of your colleagues; and the love of a good woman.

            * Of course, that's only if we're talking about Zimbabwean dollars ...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The rich get richer ...

              Sure he gives away billions to some charities that benefit some millions, but then he spent years shafting even larger numbers of people to amass those billions. Very easy to give to charity when you shaft billions to get there

              1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

                Re: The rich get richer ...

                "Sure he gives away billions to some charities that benefit some millions, but then he spent years shafting even larger numbers of people to amass those billions. Very easy to give to charity when you shaft billions to get there"

                Even taking your (rubbish) argument at face value, then you should applaud Bill as he redistributes wealth from the wealthy folk buying computers to the poor trying to simply survive.

                The green eyed envy of hypocritical socialists never ceases to amaze.

                1. streaky Silver badge

                  Re: The rich get richer ...

                  "The green eyed envy of hypocritical socialists never ceases to amaze"

                  Ah you must have caught the disease known as "American".

                  The left loves Bill Gates to bits, because he does what the right claims to want to do instead of paying taxes but conveniently never actually bother whatever their real effective tax rate. If more of the right were like Bill we wouldn't need taxes at all. Instead they like to sit on dead money doing nothing.

                  Bill got his KBE from a left wing government, but whatever.

              2. aqk
                Windows

                Re: The rich get richer ...

                Well, he didn't shaft me.

                OK, my Win 3.1 crashed at least once a week, and (I heard) Win-ME was a dog as well as Vista, but gee- in over a year My Win-8, now Win 8.1 has NEVER crashed!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: The rich get richer ...

              Never forget that there are three things you cannot buy with dollars*: happiness; the respect of your colleagues; and the love of a good woman.

              But it can buy you a decent mancave, which is pretty close to happiness. It can buy you those waste of money confidence classes some places do (waste of money because they're damn expensive, don't know if they're useless or not) which will help you find that woman, as for respecto f your colleagues, porche.

            3. chr0m4t1c

              Re: The rich get richer ...

              "Never forget that there are three things you cannot buy with dollars*: happiness; the respect of your colleagues; and the love of a good woman."

              Four, you forgot abject poverty.

      2. Maharg

        Re: The rich get richer ...

        Comparatively, unless you are in the top % of earners, you did get poorer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The rich get richer ...

          Yeah, compared to the people he's giving money to, we all must look like Bill Gates.

          1. EPurpl3

            Re: The rich get richer ...

            "Yeah, compared to the people he's giving money to, we all must look like Bill Gates."

            No, I'm not old :D

      3. Shane Lusby

        Re: The rich get richer ...

        Glad to see this comment. I wasn't the biggest Bill Gates fan back when he was working but I can't really fault what hes been doing with his time and money since then.

      4. Dave Stevens

        Re: can't give his money away

        Reminds me of his recent Public Santa on Reddit.

        He made a tiny donation to Heifer on behalf of the woman whose name he drew--and included a picture of himself along with a plushie. Huge amount of publicity for basically nothing.

        I picture Scrooge holding that stuffed cow on the picture.

        1. largefile

          Re: can't give his money away

          Why don't you check with Heifer and see how big and important that turned out for them. One small act that made millions of people find out what Heifer is and what they do.

          You folks are too much in your selfish indignation. You are small people who wouldn't know a good thing if it hit you upside the head. Do a little research into what the Gates Foundation has done and continues to do. Do a little research into the giving pledge. Stop your childish old tech jealously and self righteous "open source the world should be free" bull pucky and figured things out. Microsoft made money in the world of big business by playing big business better than anyone else was playing it. Gates is wise enough to parlay that victory into a philanthropic behemoth like no other.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Philip Lewis

            Re: can't give his money away

            "Gates is wise enough to parlay that victory into a philanthropic behemoth like no other."

            Andrew Carnegie was pretty good at it, as were many, many other exceedingly rich folks of the past.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The rich get richer ...

      I'll agree with you there is more to life than money but that's pretty obvious. Why not do something about it then rather than moaning about it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The rich get richer ...

      Are you just deliberately contrary? You spend all of your time banging on about how much stuff you've got, all your many, many, material possessions and then you complain about someone who is trying to give practically all his money away to good causes getting richer?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The rich get richer ... Matthew 25:14-30

      Parable of the Talents

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The rich get richer ... Some people

      Some rich people give to charity, some rich people buy football teams......

      Don't think Gates owns a football team, though it is known that he uses the money he has to invest and make more money so that he can fund more charitable causes and leave a long term legacy.

      Is there something wrong with that?

    7. Greg J Preece

      Re: The rich get richer ...

      ... and the rest of us get poorer.

      Speak for yourself. What you mean is that the successful keep going and you keep whining into a pint glass?

      Christ, I hate this attitude that "The Rich" are spontaneously generated whenever someone needs a Saturday morning cartoon villain to blame for their inadequacies. Gates was never on the breadline, but he made his own fortune.

      1. Maharg

        Re: The rich get richer ...

        "I hate this attitude that "The Rich" are spontaneously generated whenever someone needs a Saturday morning cartoon villain to blame for their inadequacies. "

        it's almost as ridiculous as the attitude that all it takes is hard work to make money and if you are not successful it means you are lazy, I'm sorry I was so lazy I chose not to be born to wealthy parents!

  2. tomban
    Joke

    Wow, imagine what he'd be worth if Windows was a decent operating system!

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

      worth of a decent OS

      Probably nothing, if the success of the various UNIX flavours is anything to go by.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Counterintuitive!

      "Wow, imagine what he'd be worth if Windows was a decent operating system!"

      Well, VMS is a decent operating system - indeed, one of the best. But DEC, which created and fined-tuned VMS single-handed, was driven out of business largely by Gates and his dirt-cheap non-operating-system. Ironically, one of the first uses he made of the ill-gotten gains was to acquire VMS skills and designs in a vain attempt to make Windows industrial strength.

      It doesn't pay to make anything better than the market demands - and if, as in the case of software, the market is utterly ignorant of what quality looks like, it will simply demand the cheapest. In the long term (and even the medium term) this isn't good for anyone but Gates and the other people who made fortunes out of Microsoft. But ho hum, that's capitalism for you.

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: Counterintuitive!

        But you (as common with many hardcore Unix types) miss the point.

        Windows won against VMS et al. on simple economics and simplicity. It had flaws, but Windows was usable for the small business and man on the street. You can't honestly say that about VMS?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Counterintuitive!

        I'm pretty sure that DEC did a fairly good job of driving themselves out of business, consider:

        Excellent, although bottom of the range DEC UNIX / VMS workstation in the late 80s circa £5k-£10k vs good enough Windows workstation £500-£1000. If you didn't have a specific need for the UNIX/VMS, what possible reason would cause you not to buy Windows?

  3. localzuk

    Global Recession? Not so much

    Doesn't look like the recession has been too bad for the uber-rich then...

    1. Andrew_b65

      Re: Global Recession? Not so much

      Uber-rich? No, we're, ahem, 'all in this together'.

  4. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Coat

    Africa

    I thought his foundation was gonna get 98% of his fortune to save starving Africans ... the only way he found to revert public perception of MS ...

    ... then again, since his foundation is pushing GMO's full steam, I think he did the Africans a favor by not funding it accordingly ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Africa

      Yeah that's right - of course it better to eat NO food and starve than eat GMOs. Doh.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Africa

        "Yeah that's right - of course it better to eat NO food and starve than eat GMOs. Doh".

        No, it's better to avoid having children you won't be able to feed. The Green revolution and today's GM crops have simply ensured that the food crash and the massive starvation that ensues will kill billions instead of millions.

        But it's all right: "we meant well".

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Africa

          You are Thomas Malthus, and I claim my £5.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Africa

      I'm not sure his foundation is about starvation. I believe he's been more into medical research and charity than food. Although his foundation does seem to have fingers in many pies, so I'd be entirely unsurprised if it was pro-GM food.

      Although his foundation is also a cunning plan to make him the richest man in the world! In that Warren Buffet gave it loads of cash, but Bill's been spending Warren's cash faster than his. Helping to keep him at th top spot...

      Buffet wants all his cash spend within 5 years of his death, whereas Gates is more interetested in his being a long term fund that keeps on being used. Different philosophies of giving I guess.

    3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Africa

      GMOs, eh?

      Rather than just issue the edict that you are a moron, I am going to first allow you to explain why GMOs are bad. I do hope you have the required understanding of what genetic modification is, and how it works, and therefore are able to explain clearly and concisely how these organisms differ from conventionally bred ones.

      Granted, there are issues around legal entities owning intellectual property rights on living things, but that is an entirely different issue. If anything, having a charitable organisation doing the research, and providing seeds to developing nations without requiring a license from those using them would seem like a very positive thing.

      But then GMOs are evil, as is anything containing 'chemicals', or which is 'unnatural'. Maybe if we wave a crystal at them, they'll become 'harmonized with nature' and we'll all be fine, m'kay?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Africa

        I think you'll find that GM food gives off nucular. No further discussion is therefore required!

        We don't appear to have the radiation warning symbol, for some foolish reason. So I'll go for the next best thing.

      2. Darryl

        Re: Africa

        Paul McCartney says GMOs are evil, so it must be true?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Africa

        >GMOs evil

        Consider these issues:

        1/ Many GM plants have been designed to be able to take a much heaver weedkiller load such as roundup, they claim it breaks down, but I don't trust Monsanto

        2/ One mans plant is an others weed, it could be possible for the GM plants to escape and take over many other crops. A non GM example is the Olive tree in Australia. Just think of GM rape seed growing in the middle of a wheat crop.

        3/ The gene pool of a GM plant is very small so it might be possible for some fungus, insect etc to develop a specific resistance to what ever it has as a defense and then you would get a complete collapse of that crop.

        4/ Hybridization into something unusable and uncontrollable.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Africa

          Consider these counter-points:

          1) This is an issue with breeding weedkiller resistant plants. These can be bred conventionally, as well as via GM, and the issues are essentially teh same, thus the argumetn against GM fails.

          2) Your example is its own counter-point. Non-GM organisms do this, so why are GM ones bad/worse?

          3) Genetic modification changes teh genes of an organism from those otherwise found, thus extending the gene pool. Conventional breeding and crop selection restricts the gene pool (cf bananas).

          4) Again, this applies to any hybrid, not just those from genetically modified organisms. If anything, GM ones will have been better selected in the first place, so if anything, this risk would be reduced. Also, bemoaning the 'uncontrollability' of an organism, whilst criticising its artificiality (i.e. its controlled creation, versus uncontrolled nature) is a contradiction in terms.

          1. Hans 1 Silver badge

            Re: Africa

            GMO's have patents, you cannot re-sew without paying royalties. Anybody who thinks this is a good idea is an idiot, no ifs buts or maybes.

            GMO's can contaminate crops in nearby fields, the farmer of the contaminated field will have to pay royalties, although it's the wind that caused contamination. Anybody who thinks GMO is a good idea is an idiot, no ifs buts or maybes.

            But, of course, it does not stop there ... there are, as you may know, several types of GMO's, some CONTAIN insecticides or repellents for creatures, which is, I am sure you agree, sooooo much better than the stuff we spray onto crops, because before, to get rid of it, we would wash the skin thoroughly and peel the crops prior to eating them, now we have no choice but to ingest the pesticide/repellent. Anybody who thinks this is a good idea is an idiot, no ifs buts or maybes.

            as for your 1), you cannot create conventional crops that withstand stuff like RoundUp - that is the whole point of GMO, AND traces of this stuff stay on the crops.

            2)I do not get your point here, of course this happens, but we try and limit it as much as possible, well, we don't if we allow GMO's

            3)I agree with you on this one

            4)Plants have been here quite some time, man, and have settled into the food chain. Introducing new variants of plants somewhere is bad, period. Every plant in a given region needs predators, otherwise it spreads uncontrollably, this extends point 2, hybrids "might" arise which might become even worse spreaders.

            GMO producers are not forced to carry out tests of the chemicals they put in their crops (unlike pharma, all GMO plants produce non-native chemicals), because it takes tens of years to carry out these tests.

            And of course, nature always wins, in the end ... GMO's are moot, because living beings adapt, this takes quite some time, though - although insects tend to adapt quickly ... this means you constantly have to make your GMO's evolve against new threats ... when you could use natural repellents, that is how organic farming works. Of course, I favor organic crops ... but that is just me,

            Now, why are GMO's especially bad in Africa ? Mainly because of my first and second paragraphs, farmers in those countries will commit suicide because it is unsustainable to have GMO's with such low sale prices (how to pay royalties). This has happened in Central and South America, so nothing new ....

            Christ, these arguments are old, common sense ... why do you people not THINK ?????

            1. Hans 1 Silver badge

              Re: Africa

              >re-sew

              It's sow with o I know ...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or to put another way

    enough cash to fill 245 Olympic sized swimming pools or 24,294,764 paddling pools.

  6. Hairy Spod

    Worthless stats

    Wealth in comparison to the GDP of Wales please..

    1. Andrew Lobban

      Re: Worthless stats

      In 2012 the GDP per head was £15,696 with a population of 3,063,456 that gives £51,147,461,376 which is around $83,738,613,481.69.

      So Bill Gates $78.5 billion is around 0.937 the GDP of Wales :)

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: Worthless stats

        And if that $78.5 billion was turned into dollar bills, it would cover an area of 811 sq. km, or 1.13 Angleseys.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Worthless stats

      Just a point - Comparing personal wealth or company value against GDP isn't really a valid comparison. Basically Bill Gates may be worth 0.9 of the GDP of Wales, but only this year. Wales is worth the GDP of Wales pretty much every year.

      1. Great Bu

        Re: Worthless stats

        I'd still rather live in Bill Gates than Wales, though......

        1. Bumpy Cat

          Re: Worthless stats

          And for both, you can say "I thought they smelt bad on the *outside*!"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Worthless stats

        Actually comparing any wealth to GDP is absurd. GDP isn't a quantity of wealth owned by one entity; it is the amount of money that changes hands every year.

    3. Captain DaFt

      Re: or to put another way

      "enough cash to fill 245 Olympic sized swimming pools or 24,294,764 paddling pools."

      Is that in bills or coins? I hope it's coins, 'cause I have the urge to take a Scrooge McDuck type dip!

  7. bex

    I am a bit better off than last year but I didn't do anything this year that was not necessary, virtually no booze or going out.

    1. wikkity

      no booze

      How is booze not necessary?

    2. Piro

      I wish I had your resolve

      I drink more than is necessary, and don't even know why I do it any more.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: I wish I had your resolve

        so it does work then!

  8. Zmodem

    they are all loosers who live in shanty towns, they get caught up in the hype and forget to sell shares and have money in the bank, then they all cry and commit suicide when the markets crash

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How did ZModem get a gold badge?

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        It's a bronze badge. 'Awarded' for 100 posts in a calendar year.

        The gold badges look yellow to me...

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Sorry to contradict you, but Bronze badges are awarded after 1000 upvotes, not a number of posts in a year.

          And to all those saying "Money can't buy happiness", I will reply "but it can sure as heck prevent misery".

          Money is not all ? Not when you have enough of it. If you don't have any, it becomes pretty much your biggest problem.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Not that it's important, but nope, it's silver badges for 1,000 upvotes. Bronze for the 100 posts in a year. Gold badges are only awarded to Nobel Laureates.

            It's all in the El Reg House Rules, linked to at the top of the comments box.

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              I stand corrected, and thank you for the heads-up.

              Except that we're both wrong : it's 2000 upvotes for silver ):D

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
                Headmaster

                Tee hee.

                I guess it's similar to Murphy's Law of Grammar Nazism. If you post to correct someone's grammar or spelling, it approaches certainty that you will make a grammatical or spelling mistake yourself, in your post.

                However, I sit corrected.

                1. Zmodem

                  cute, the articulate dumbasses sipping their tea pondering of the next good word to say

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          How do I get a Gold one?

          As in heading

  9. Maharg

    Money can’t buy you happiness

    but its more comfortable to cry in a Limo then on a bus

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Money can’t buy you happiness

      Did you mean than, or are you suggesting Gates is so rich that he has a special "Crying Bus" that he uses when he is bored of the limo?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook a tech company?

    Since when? Unless I'm mistaken they're a social media company - using tech and being online doesn't make you a tech company. Or did I miss something?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Facebook a tech company?

      Or an Advertising agency with one Cyber Billboard disguised as a "Social Media" site.

      Not a Tech company.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Analogy of the Day

        FaceBook is a great big drain, where you pour all your personal information, which then goes down into a big sewer where the NSA can swim around in it. Whilst it is swirling around the plughole, people who you might have met once in the pub, or used to work with can see what it is and pour thir own slurry in with it.

        This drain continuously spews back the annoying stench of advertising, but if you bleach it properly with AdBlock, it doesn't stink quite as much.

        It still has a tendency to splurge what you though was private and personal to people you don't really like, or random strangers on a whim, depending on the phase of the moon or something.

  11. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "adding to his cash hoard"

    Are you sure that it's cash, ie dollars in a bank account or folding paper under a mattress, or is it the paper value of company shares, which are unspendable unless you liquidate them with the commensurate drop in "value" if you do so.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      If I had $70bn in assets, you can be assured that there would be at least one completely tasteless room, in one of my many homes, where the walls would be made of gold, with a mattress made out of a huge pile of dollar bills, and machines in the roof to pour either money or jewels on my head at the push of a button. And a bath with a champagne tap as well.

      On reflection, I'm not sure this post does me any credit whatsoever, and I should probably delete it lest it destroys my political career, or comes back to haunt me when I finally achieve billionairedom...

  12. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    "Look on my work, ye Mighty and despair"

    "...boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away"

  13. Trooper_ID

    It's only wealth. I wish I had a bit more than I have, but there we are. At least I don't have half the world seemingly hating on me.

    1. Darryl

      ..as far as you know...

  14. Michael Hudson

    Am I the only one to think these are contradictory

    Gates was the year's biggest gainer, increasing his fortune by $15.8bn

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg put on the most dollars in the tech sector, adding $12.4bn

    1. Smarty Pants

      Re: Am I the only one to think these are contradictory

      Mark Zuckerberg was all tech money (if Farcebuck is tech)

      Bill Gates was Microsoft, Canadian National Railway and Ecolab

  15. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Money, so they say...

    Is the root of all evil too-ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo-day.

    Sounds like a good song lyric.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Money, so they say...

      Actually they don't say that. Well they do, but they are propagating a mis-quote.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good on Bill. I rather like the guy, and the work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

    Sure, he's far from pure white, but overall he's a force for good in the world and has done more than many super-wealthy people to help those who cannot help themselves.

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge

      Yeah, so true, that is why is foundation has 98% of his wealth, right ? Oh no, it does not, shit, what happened ?

      Just a marketing ploy to buy some prestige ...

  17. Vociferous

    I like that the reason Microsoft's stock went up...

    ...was because it fired Gates's pal Steve Ballmer.

    Also, Putin, with a personal wealth of $70 billion in 2012, may still be richer than Gates, as oil prices have continued to climb.

  18. defiler Silver badge

    This time next year, Rodney...

  19. TwoWolves

    Why don't we get an explanation of how he's got richer without working?

    QE and other financial manipulations have ensured that the global super-wealthy have extended their wealth while the middle-class and poor have suffered.

    I'm no socialist but I know corruption when I see it.

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Why don't we get an explanation of how he's got richer without working?

      He got richer without working by owning a lot of Microsoft stock, which rose dramatically when Ballmer was fired from the company.

      (Ironically, Ballmer himself is also a large shareholder, and got almost a billion dollars richer because he was fired! Talk about "crying all the way to the bank"!)

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