A large number of the world’s top billionaires live in the United States. On the Forbes list of billionaires for 2019, 14 out of the top 20 richest people in the world were Americans. The wealth amassed by these Americans is reflective of the country’s GDP which stands at a growth rate of 2.9 percent, well ahead of other nations. Another commonality among the richest people in America is visible in the country’s relationship with its entrepreneurs. A majority of the people that topped the list amassed their fortune by founding their own companies. Let’s take a look at how the top people on this list achieved their billionaire status.
As the founder and owner of Amazon, one the biggest companies in the world, it comes as no surprise that Jeff Bezos is number one on our list of the richest billionaires in the U.S. However, the company had humble beginnings and wasn’t always the giant force it is today.
Amazon started as a bookstore operated from Bezos’ bedroom where you could go online and order a book that would be shipped directly to your home. The company quickly expanded to selling other products and today buying things on Amazon has become a way of life for many people worldwide. Jeff Bezos’ current net worth stands at a whopping $131 billion.
The second position on the billionaires’ list is held by another pioneer in the tech industry. Bill Gates is the founder of the PC software Microsoft. The company was founded by Gates and Paul Allen in 1975 and it revolutionized the computer industry. It is hard to think of a time when computers didn’t run on a Microsoft program.
Bill Gates earned his millionaire status at the age of 31 after Microsoft issued an IPO in 1986. Soon after the company’s valuation increased, he became a billionaire and remained number 1 on the list for several years until he was replaced by Jeff Bezos in 2017. Nevertheless, Bill Gates has remained a constant on this list with a net worth of $96.5 billion.
While the first two spots on this list are held by tech magnates, the third position belongs to Warren Buffet who built his wealth in the financial sector. Born and raised in Omaha, Buffet is commonly referred to as the “Oracle of Omaha” for his renowned investment strategies.
Investing came naturally to Warren Buffet and it was something that he was passionate about from a young age. He invested in his first stock when he was 11 and filed a tax return at 13. He went on to become the founder of the investment company Berkshire Hathaway that derives most of its wealth from stakes in large businesses. Warren Buffet is considered a value investor and is known to hold stocks for extended periods of time. He has a net worth of $82.5 billion.
Another giant in the tech industry is none other than Larry Ellison who is the founder of Oracle. The company has spearheaded numerous software products that have become an integral part of modern-day computers.
However, Larry Ellison came from humble beginnings and started his career as a computer programmer and a rock climbing instructor. He earned his billionaire status as the founder of Oracle. With a 25 percent stake in the company, Ellison has spent his wealth on an island, a 288-foot yacht, a tennis team, and a sailing team. His current net worth is $62.5 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg may be one of the most well-known people on this list. He is the co-founder and CEO of the social networking site Facebook. Today Facebook has become a force of nature in the tech world and owns companies like Instagram and WhatsApp as well.
Zuckerberg has invested a substantial amount of his wealth in real estate and owns property worth $175 million. He calls Palo Alto his home where he resides with his wife Priscilla Chan and two kids. Zuckerberg and his wife run the non-profit organization the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which funds technology to cure new diseases. His net worth is $62.3 billion.
Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, built his empire with the $10 million he received from his severance package after 15 years at Solomon Brothers. Bloomberg noticed a gap in the market for financial information and decided to capitalize on this. He started Bloomberg which provided analysis and information to help the trading sector.
He still owns 88 percent of the company which is now a huge player in the media business. In addition to being the founder of Bloomberg, his other accolades include serving three terms as mayor of New York City. Michael Bloomberg is also widely regarded for his philanthropy work. His current net worth stands at $55.5 billion.
If there’s one company we can’t imagine life without, it’s Google. This search engine has become our gateway to information on anything and everything. So it comes as no surprise that the founder of one of the most valuable software companies in the world is #6 on our list. Larry Page founded the company in 1998 along with co-founder Sergey Brin.
Page was passionate about computers from a very young age and went on to get a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University. Most of Page’s wealth comes from his 16 percent stake in Google. Under his leadership, the company grew in value through its investment in numerous startups. His net worth is $50.8 billion.
Businessmen and brothers Charles Koch and David Koch were co-owners of Koch Industries until David’s death in 2019. The brothers graduated from MIT and took over the family business that is worth around a $100 billion dollars today.
Koch Industries is based out of Kansas and specializes in the equipment for pollution control along with fertilizers, ranching, commodity trading, and several other subsidiaries. Today it is the parent company of numerous brands around the world. Both the brothers were also known for their active philanthropy and donated millions of dollars to political and charitable causes. Today, Charles has a net worth of $50.5 billion, which was also David’s net worth prior to his death.
Sergey Brin co-founded Google with Larry Page. He was born in the Soviet Union and his family fled to the U.S to seek refuge from the anti-Semitism they faced back home. He became a U.S. citizen in 1979. Brin’s role at Google was to head Google X, a highly secretive division at the company. He went on to become the President of Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
Sergey Brin is also known for his philanthropic work and donated $50 million to Parkinson’s research after a genetic mutation inextricably linked him to the disease. In addition to this, he also donated to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the organization that helped him flee the Soviet Union as a child. Sergey Brin’s current net worth is $49.8 billion.
Jim Walton is the son of Sam Walton, who opened the first Walmart store. As heir to the Walmart empire, he earned his billionaire status from the family fortune. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1971 and joined Walmart’s real estate division. He was then put in charge of Arvest Bank which is a part of the Walton family holdings. However, after his brother’s death in 2005, he joined the Walmart board.
Jim Walton current net worth is $44.6 billion. In addition to his stake in the Walmart empire, he also owns Community Publishers that has newspapers in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
The second member of the Walmart family on the list is Alice Walton. She is the only female heir to the Walmart fortune and holds the 11th spot on the billionaires’ list. However, unlike her brother Jim who joined the board, Alice decided to start her own art gallery called the Crystal Bridges Museum.
Alice Walton is an avid art collector and her personal collection is said to be valued at over $100 million. She is also involved in her family’s foundation and donates to environmental and educational causes. Her net worth is $44.4 billion.
Rob Walton is the eldest of the Walton siblings. He graduated from the University of Arkansas and went on to pursue a law degree at Columbia University. After graduation, he joined a law firm, Connor and Winters in Oklahoma. In 1978, Walton joined Walmart’s board where he served as a senior vice-president and then was appointed the chairman in 1992 after his father’s death.
In 2015, he retired as chairman and was succeeded by his son-in-law, Greg Penner. Together with his family, Rob Walton owns half the stock in Walmart and his current net worth is $44.3 billion.
Steve Ballmer was the former CEO of Microsoft and led the company from 2000-2014. He was one of the first employees at Microsoft and dropped out of Stanford Business School to join the company. He became an employee in 1980 and was the first business manager hired by Bill Gates.
Ballmer always looked at his finances from a long-term perspective and when he retired from Microsoft from 2014, he bought the L.A Clippers organization for $2 billion. He is also big on philanthropy and donated millions of dollars to a fund that focused on helping people in poverty. His net worth is $41.2 billion.
You may not have heard of Sheldon Anderson but you’ve definitely heard of the properties he owns, namely casinos in Vegas like the Venetian and the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Adelson owns these properties under the parent company he founded, the Las Vegas Sands. It is also one of the biggest casino operators in the world.
In addition to his business magnate status, Sheldon Adelson is also a philanthropist and has donated to numerous political campaigns. He wealth includes a mega-mansion in Las Vegas and a 300 ft yacht. Adelson has a net worth of $35.1 billion.
Michael Dell is the founder and chairman of Dell. The company has become a household name in the PC industry. In 2016, the company merged with EMC to become Dell Technologies which is said to be one the largest acquisitions in history.
Dell was always passionate about computers and built and sold computers from his dorm room. He soon took his venture full time and created the company PC Limited. The company did well and he issued an IPO when he was just 23 years old. Today, Michael Dell is worth $34.3 billion.
Phil Knight is the co-founder and chairman of the athletic company Nike. It is one of the biggest sports apparel companies in the world and earned Knight the title as one of the most powerful people in the sports industry. He came up with the idea for the company during a class project in business school. Once he realized that he had created a viable business model, he set out to make his dream a reality.
Today’s Nike’s shoes are worn by millions of people around the world and the brand boasts numerous high-profile athletes as its brand ambassadors. Knight has amassed a net worth of $33.4 billion and has made generous donations to his alma mater.
Jacqueline And John Mars
Jacqueline and John Mars are the grandchildren of Frank Mars who founded the famous candy company, Mars Incorporated. The Mars grandchildren made their fortune through their stake in the family business. Jacqueline and John have an ownership stake in the company putting their net worth at $23.9 billion each.
Jacqueline worked on the Mars board for nearly 20 years and is also noted for her philanthropy. She is also a board member of the Smithsonian. Her brother John Mars serves at the Co-President and CEO of Mars Incorporated. In addition to its candy empire, the company also owns Pedigree and Whiskers. This photo shows Jacqueline on the left, and John receiving an honorary Knighthood, right.
Elon Musk is well known for his passion for space travel and is the founder of numerous companies like Tesla and Space X. Musk is also known for his work ethic and rarely takes a holiday. He prefers to spend the majority of his time at one of his many factories.
Tesla was founded by Elon Musk in 2003 and was the first company to sell fully electric cars to the mass market. In addition to this, his company Space X aims to send civilians to Mars. The company is worth over $20 billion. Elon Musk has a total net worth of $22.3 billion.
Jim Simons is known as “one of the smartest billionaires” and is the founder of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies. The fund manages over $60 billion in assets. He was a pioneer in quantitative investing and introduced a trading method for commodities and currencies. This was used on the Medallion Fund which was worth over $10 billion. The strategy is only available to the owners and employees of the company.
Simons retired from the company seven years ago and has since focused on his philanthropic work. He has donated an estimated $2.7 billion dollars to charitable causes around the world. His net worth is $21.5 billion.
Rupert Murdoch is a media magnate who is the owner of several outlets including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London. Murdoch is from Australia and got his start as an entrepreneur when he inherited a newspaper from his father. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1985 and lives in New York City.
He went on to build a media empire that is now worth $50 million and is one of the most influential people in the media industry. Murdoch has since retired from Fox and the company is now run by his son Lachlan. His total net worth is $19.4 billion.