One thing the United States has a lot of is billionaires. Of the world’s 16 richest people, 10 are Americans. Jeff Bezos usually tops the heap, but Elon Musk famously stole his spot for about a month earlier this year. So who’s in the top 10 right now? Here’s the list, according to Forbes real-time data:
Mr Bezos is the richest person on earth. He started the online retailer Amazon out of his garage in 1994, and since then has watched it grow into a multinational giant. In 2020, as other businesses floundered amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Amazon benefited from the glut of customers stuck at home, making a record $386 billion in sales. Mr Bezos is worth $183 billion.
Mr Musk has founded and led several corporations, but is best known as the CEO of the electric car maker Tesla and the space exploration company SpaceX. He briefly overtook Mr Bezos as the world’s richest person in January, but fell back down to the No. 2 spot the next month. He is worth $167.8 billion.
Mr Gates is the co-founder of Microsoft, which he started with his friend Paul Allen at age 20. By age 31, he was a billionaire. Today Mr Gates is less involved in Microsoft and more involved in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charity. The Foundation has pledged to spend $300 million to end the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr Gates is worth $126.2 billion.
Mr Zuckberberg started Facebook when he was a 19-year-old student at Harvard. It is now the most popular social network in the world. The company went public in 2012, and Mr Zuckerberg still owns 15 per cent of the stock. Though Facebook has faced intense criticism in recent years as a forum for misinformation and hate speech, the site remains popular and profitable. Mr Zuckerberg is worth $107 billion.
Mr Buffett is one of the world’s most successful investors and one of its most generous philanthropists. He bought his first stock at age 11, and today is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a hugely diverse holding company that owns corporations from GEICO to Fruit of the Loom. Mr Buffett has promised to give away over 99 per cent of his fortune, and has already donated upwards of $41 billion. He is worth $95.7 billion.
In the 1970s, Mr Ellison built a database for the CIA called “Oracle”. Today that’s the name of his multinational software corporation, one of the largest in the world. Mr Ellison stepped down as CEO in 2014, but is still Oracle’s chairman and chief technical officer. With his penchant for expensive cars, yachts, and Armani suits, some believe Mr Ellison was the inspiration for Marvel hero Tony Stark – right down to his signature beard. In 2012, Mr Ellison purchased the Hawaiian island of Lanai. He is worth $90 billion.
If you don’t know who Larry Page is, you can Google him, which means you’ll be using the search engine he co-founded. Mr Page and Sergey Brin developed Google out of Brin’s dorm room at Stanford, where they were both PhD students in the 1990s. Since then, Mr Page has done stints as CEO at both Google and later its parent company, Alphabet. Though he stepped down as chief in 2019, he is still a controlling shareholder. He is worth $88.8 billion.
Coming up right behind Mr Page is his partner, fellow Google co-founder Sergey Brin. Mr Brin immigrated with his family from the Soviet Union to the United States when he was six. After graduating from the University of Maryland, he studied for a PhD at Stanford University, where he met Mr Page. The two dropped out of Stanford to manage Google and then Alphabet, of which Mr Brin became president. He stepped down in 2019, but is still a controlling shareholder. He is worth $86.5 billion.
Mr Ballmer was the CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014. Under his leadership, the company created products ranging from the hugely successful – e.g., Xbox – to less than successful – e.g., Zune mp3 players, Windows Vista. After retiring from Microsoft, Mr Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. He is worth $70.4 billion.
Ms Walton is the richest woman in the United States, and the second richest woman in the world. Her father was Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club, who was once the richest person in the US. Unlike her brothers, Ms Walton has not focused her career on Walmart. She has worked in leadership positions at multiple investment banks, and founded the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. She is worth $63 billion.