Billionaires have a significant impact on the world, influencing everything from political choices to social and economic improvements. According to Forbes, the world’s billionaires number 2,755. However, just a few — ten to be precise — today have a net worth of $100 billion or more. Numerous billionaires are founders of technological companies, with a large portion of their fortune invested in the companies they founded.
Notably, many billionaires are taxed differently or not at all on their riches since a large portion of their profits remains unrealized—that is, they have not sold any stock or equity and have therefore avoided paying taxes. Additionally, although some billionaires own many billion dollars in cash, many own private assets such as private companies, real estate, or other publicly traded companies.
However, since a large portion of the wealth of the top billionaires is invested in public equities, their net worth may change significantly year over year. For example, Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla and the world’s richest person as of Dec. 8, 2021, has increased his net worth by $122 billion year to date (as of Dec. 8, 2021), owing in large part to the increase in Tesla shares (of which he owns 23 percent)—with Tesla shares up more than 46 percent year to date (as of Dec. 8, 2021).
The following are the ten persons who are now regarded as the richest according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index as of the date of this article’s update—Dec. 8, 2021.
- Elon Musk, the co-founder, and CEO of Tesla, is the world’s wealthiest person, with a net worth of $278 billion.
- Jeff Bezos, the creator of Amazon, is the second richest person, with an estimated net worth of $202 billion.
- Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault (LVMH Chairman and CEO), Larry Page, and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers are among the billionaires who have seen the largest increases in wealth in 2021.
- Eight of the top ten billionaires are in the technology sector, with only LVMH’s Bernard Arnault and Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett being outliers.
1. Elon Musk
Elon Musk has been involved with a number of different companies throughout the years. Musk first enrolled at Stanford University but withdrew to start Zip2, one of the first internet navigation systems. A part of the earnings from this venture was subsequently put in the development of X.com, an online payment system that eventually evolved into PayPal.
While both technologies were subsequently sold to other companies, Musk retained his role as CEO and primary designer for his third venture, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which intends to make space exploration more affordable.
Musk became a significant investor in Tesla Motors (now Tesla) in 2004, which resulted in his retroactive recognition as a co-founder and his present position as CEO of the electric car company.
9 Along with its electric car line-up—which includes sedans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and the upcoming “Cybertruck”—Tesla also manufactures energy storage devices, automotive accessories, and products, as well as solar power systems via its 2016 purchase of SolarCity.
Tesla’s stock price soared by almost 740 percent in 2020, propelling Musk to the top of the billionaires’ list. Tesla became the biggest company to be admitted to the S&P 500 in December 2020.
Musk created two more companies in 2016, Neuralink and The Boring Company, the latter of which he serves as CEO. Neuralink is developing brain-machine interface devices to assist those who are paralysed and to enable users to connect mentally with their computers and mobile devices.
Meanwhile, The Boring Company develops boring machines for tunnelling subterranean public transit lines that will alleviate congestion in large cities. Additionally, it marketed (briefly) a portable flamethrower.
Tesla’s shares surged 12.7 percent and achieved a $1 trillion market valuation on Oct. 25, 2021, after car rental company Hertz revealed its intention to purchase 100,000 of the automaker’s electric cars. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s wealth increased by almost $36 billion in a single day consequently.
Musk’s lead as the world’s wealthiest person continues to expand, owing to the jump in Tesla shares and an October 2021 agreement with investors that increased SpaceX’s value. Musk’s net worth has increased by $122 billion year to date as of Dec. 8, 2021.
2. Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com in a Seattle garage in 1994, soon after resigning from hedge fund behemoth D.E. Shaw. He first offered the idea of an online bookshop to his old employer David E. Shaw, who declined.
Though Amazon.com began as a book store, it has evolved into a one-stop-shop for almost anything and is perhaps the world’s biggest retailer. In any case, it’s difficult to argue with the corporation’s self-description as “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Its tendency of continual diversification is seen in some of its surprising developments, like the acquisition of Whole Foods Market in 2017 and the debut of its own branded OTC medications in August 2017.
In 2020, Amazon’s stock price soared due to increased demand for online shopping as people were forced to remain at home due to lockdowns. In 2020, shares increased by 76%. On July 5, 2021, Bezos resigned as CEO of the e-commerce behemoth and assumed the post of executive chair.
Bezos first floated Amazon in 1997 and went on to become the first individual to attain a net worth of more than $100 billion since Bill Gates in 1999. Bezos’s other ventures include the aerospace company Blue Origin, The Washington Post (which he acquired in 2013), and the 10,000-year clock, often referred to as the Long Now.
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Dutch student Oliver Daemen successfully accomplished Blue Origin’s first crewed flight on July 20, 2021, reaching a height of little over 62 miles before safely landing.
3. Bernard Arnault
Nationality française Bernard Arnault is chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury goods company. This company controls many of the world’s most recognisable brands, including Louis Vuitton, Hennessey, Marc Jacobs, and Sephora. However, the bulk of his income is derived from his substantial interest in Christian Dior SE, the holding company that owns 41.2 percent of LVMH. Through his family-owned holding company, Groupe Familial Arnault, he owns shares in Christian Dior SE and an extra 6.2 percent in LVMH.
Arnault, an engineer by profession, shown his commercial acumen while working for his father’s construction company, Ferret-Savinel, which he would eventually acquire in 1971. In 1979, he reorganised Ferret-Savinel as Férinel Inc., a real estate company.
Arnault remained chairman of Férinel for another six years, until 1984, when he purchased and restructured luxury goods manufacturer Financière Agache, finally selling all the company’s interests save Christian Dior and Le Bon Marché. In 1987, he was encouraged to invest in LVMH and became the company’s largest shareholder, chairman of the board, and CEO two years later.
4. Bill Gates
In 1975, while still a student at Harvard University, Bill Gates joined up with his boyhood buddy Paul Allen to create new software for the earliest microcomputers. Following the success of this effort, Gates dropped out of Harvard during his junior year and joined Allen in founding Microsoft.
Apart from being the world’s biggest software company, Microsoft also manufactures personal computers, publishes books under the Microsoft Press imprint, offers email services through its Exchange server, and sells video gaming consoles and related peripheral devices. Initially serving as Microsoft’s principal software architect, Gates assumed the post of chairman in 2008. He was appointed to Berkshire Hathaway’s board of directors in 2004. On March 13, 2020, he resigned from both boards.
Bill Gates has invested a significant portion of his net wealth in Cascade Investment LLC. Cascade is a private investment entity that holds a diverse portfolio of companies, including Canadian National Railway (CNR), Deere (DE), and Republic Services (RSG), as well as private real estate and energy investments.
In 2000, Gates’ two charitable organisations, the William H. Gates Foundation, and the Gates Learning Foundation, combined to become the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which he co-chairs with his ex-wife, Melinda Gates. He has spent billions of dollars fighting polio and malaria via his organisation. Additionally, in 2014, he contributed $50 million to aid in the battle against Ebola. By 2021, the foundation would have invested more than $1.9 billion in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bill Gates co-founded the Giving Pledge with Warren Buffett in 2010, a campaign urging wealthy people to pledge to give the majority of their fortune to charitable organisations. Notable is the fact that Bill and Melinda Gates declared their intention to divorce on May 3, 2021.
5. Larry Page
As is the case with numerous other technology billionaires on our list, Larry Page’s claim to fame began in a college dorm room. Page and his buddy Sergey Brin came up with the idea of enhancing data extraction skills when surfing the Internet in 1995 while attending Stanford University. The pair created a new form of search engine technology they nicknamed “Backrub,” so named because it is capable of analysing “backing connections.” From there, Page and Brin founded Google in 1998, with the former acting as CEO until his retirement in 2001.
Google is the world’s most popular Internet search engine, accounting for more than 92 percent of all worldwide online search inquiries. Google (the company) grew in 2006 by acquiring YouTube, the world’s largest platform for user-submitted videos.
Then, in 2008, Google purchased Android Inc., the company that created the Android operating system. Google is now a component of Alphabet, the holding company Page led from 2015 to 2019.
Page is also a co-founder of Planetary Resources, a company focused on space exploration and asteroid mining. Founded in 2009, the company was bought by blockchain developer ConsenSys in 2018 due to financial difficulties. He has also invested in “flying automobile” companies, including Kitty Hawk and Opener. As of Dec. 2, 2021, Google’s stock had risen more than 70% year to date, assisting Page and Brin in their ascension to the billionaire ranks.
6. Sergey Brin
What distinguishes Google from the other companies on this list is that its co-founders are quite wealthy. Sergey Brin’s role with Google is comparable to that of Larry Page. Brin co-founded the company with Page in 1998 and served as co-president until Eric Schmidt took over as CEO in 2001. Similarly, after cofounding Alphabet in 2015, Brin served as president until stepping down as CEO in 2019 when Sundar Pichai took over.
Along with its widely successful search engine, Google provides a suite of online tools and services dubbed Google Workspace. These include Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Along with software, Google sells a range of electrical gadgets, including Pixel smartphones, Pixelbook PCs and tablets, Nest smart home devices, and the Stadia gaming platform.
Brin has spent most of 2019 focused on X, Alphabet’s moon-shot research division, which is responsible for ground-breaking innovations such as Waymo’s self-driving vehicles and Google Glass smart glasses. Additionally, he has contributed millions of dollars to research for a cure for Parkinson’s disease and teamed with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to develop new medications against LRRK2, one of the illness’s primary hereditary causes.
7. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook (now Meta) with fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes in 2004. As Facebook started to be utilised at other campuses, Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to devote his whole attention to his burgeoning firm. Today, Zuckerberg serves as CEO and chairman of Meta, a social network with over 2.9 billion monthly active members as of Q3 2021.
Facebook is the world’s biggest social networking website, allowing users to establish personal profiles, interact with friends and family, and join or form groups. Because the website is free to access, the majority of the company’s income comes from advertising.
Meta also houses a number of other brands, including photo-sharing app Instagram, which it acquired in 2012; cross-platform mobile messaging service WhatsApp and virtual reality headset manufacturer Oculus, which it acquired in 2014; Workplace, its enterprise connectivity platform; Portal, its video-calling device line; and Novi, its digital wallet for the Diem payment system.
Zuckerberg co-founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative with his wife, Priscilla Chan, in 2015, with each acting as co-CEO. Their non-profit aims to use technology to address social evils such as increasing educational access and quality, overhauling both the criminal justice and immigration systems in the United States, increasing housing affordability, and finally curing all illnesses.
8. Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 after Bill Gates urged him to abandon his MBA degree at Stanford University. He was the company’s thirty-first employee. Ballmer later became CEO of Microsoft in 2000, succeeding Bill Gates. He held the role until 2014 when he resigned. During his tenure, he supervised the $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in 2011.
Ballmer holds around 4% of Microsoft stock, making him the company’s greatest individual shareholder. Ballmer acquired the Los Angeles Clippers basketball franchise for $2 billion in 2014, soon after stepping down as Microsoft CEO.
Ballmer resided across the hall from Bill Gates at Harvard University. Their “brotherly” connection, as Ballmer characterised it, became difficult when Ballmer began pushing the technology company into hardware (e.g., Surface, Windows phone, etc.).
9. Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison relocated to California in 1966 after dropping out of the University of Chicago. He worked as a computer programmer for many companies throughout the years. He began his company in 1973 as an employee of Ampex, when he met future colleagues, Ed Oates, and Bob Miner. Ellison joined Precision Instruments three years later as vice president of research and development.
By 1977, Ellison and Oates, and Miner had created Software Development Laboratories (SDL), which delivered Oracle two years later, the first commercial relational database application to use Structured Query Language. Due to the popularity of the database application, SDL changed its name to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982. Additionally, Ellison was appointed to Tesla’s board of directors in December 2018.
Oracle is the world’s second-biggest software company, offering a broad range of cloud computing services in addition to other software such as Java and Linux, as well as the Oracle Exadata computing platform. There have also been a lot of big acquisitions that have helped the business grow. PeopleSoft, Siebel, BEA Systems, and Sun Microsystems are just a few of the companies that have helped the business grow.
Over the previous decade, Ellison has invested millions in luxury real estate, mostly in California. Probably his most extravagant purchase, Ellison spent $300 million buying practically the whole Hawaiian island of Lanai, where he built a hydroponic farm and luxury resort.
Over the years, he has also contributed millions of dollars to charity organisations, most notably medical research. Ellison most recently donated $200 million to the University of Southern California in 2016 to establish a new cancer research centre.
10. Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett, the world’s most renowned value investor, filed his first tax return in 1944, at the age of 14, disclosing his profits from his childhood paper route. He began investing in Berkshire Hathaway in 1962, eventually becoming the main stakeholder in 1965. In 1967, he extended the company’s operations to include insurance and other investments. Berkshire Hathaway is now a half-trillion-dollar company, with a single share of common stock (Class A shares) selling for more than $427,400 as of Dec. 8, 2021.
Buffett often referred to as the “Oracle of Omaha,” amassed the bulk of his wealth by investing in companies with straightforward business procedures. While many investors have piled into technology companies, Buffett has taken a more conservative approach, purchasing exclusively from well-established companies with a clearer business model, such as IBM and Apple.
Additionally, he is a well-known Bitcoin sceptic. Additionally, Buffett has acquired a slew of companies entirely throughout the years, including Dairy Queen, Duracell, GEICO, and Kraft Heinz.
Buffett has devoted a significant portion of his fortune, apart from investment to humanitarian activities. Buffett donated $41 billion between 2006 and 2020, the bulk of which went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and his children’s organisations. Buffett and Bill Gates co-founded the Giving Pledge in 2010.
If you want to move closer to reaching Bloomberg’s list of the world’s wealthiest billionaires, you may need to become a technical pioneer or a retail tycoon. Alternatively, you might keep it simple and concentrate on value investing. Additionally, it might not harm, to begin with, cash, as some affluent folks do.
However, the largest riches on this list began with excellent ideas from individuals who have the creativity, determination, and contacts necessary to see them through.