Top 10 richest people in the world
19 June 2021

Top 10 richest people in the world

In 2020, there were reportedly 2,095 billionaires on Earth, with an estimated total net worth of $8 trillion. Of this amount, the top 10 wealthiest people in the world account for $1,153 billion, or roughly 14.41%, which is impressive when you consider that they represent around 0.48% of billionaires.12 Below are the 10 individuals currently considered the wealthiest at the time of updating this article—May 2021—according to the Forbes World’s Billionaires List.

1. Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos

Age: 57
Residence: Seattle4
Founder and CEO: Amazon 
Net Worth: $177 billion2
Amazon Ownership Stake: 11% ($174 billion)3
Other Assets: Blue Origin ($7.15 billion private assets), The Washington Post ($250 million private assets), and $9.75 billion in cash3

In 1994, Jeff Bezos founded in a garage in Seattle, shortly after he resigned from the hedge fund giant D.E. Shaw.35 In fact, he had originally pitched the idea of an online bookstore to his former boss David E. Shaw, who wasn’t interested.6

Though originally started out selling books, it has since morphed into a one-stop shop for everything under the sun, and is arguably the world’s largest retailer.5 At any rate, it is hard to dispute its self-description as the “Earth’s most customer-centric company.”7 Its pattern of constant diversification is evident in some of its unexpected expansions, which include acquiring Whole Foods in 2017 and launching its own branded over-the-counter drugs in February. 2018.89 In 2020, Amazon’s share price skyrocketed on the heightened demand for online shopping as lockdowns forced consumers to stay home.10

2. Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Age: 49
Residence: Austin, Texas15
Co-founder  and CEO: Tesla (TSLA)15 16
Net Worth: $151 billion2

Tesla Ownership Stake: 20% ($114 billion)14
Other Assets: Space Exploration Technologies ($29.8 billion private assets) and The Boring Company ($101 million private assets)14

Elon Musk has had his hands in several different companies over the years. Originally enrolled at Stanford University, Musk deferred his attendance to launch Zip2, one of the earliest online navigation services.1517 A portion of the proceeds from this endeavor was then reinvested to create, an online payment system that later became PayPal. While both of these systems were eventually sold to other companies, Musk has maintained his status as CEO and lead designer of his third project, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which aims to make space exploration more affordable.18

In 2004, Musk became a major funder of Tesla Motors (now Tesla), which led to him being retroactively declared a co-founder and his current position as CEO of the electric vehicle company.1618 In addition to its line of electric automobiles—which include sedans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and the “Cybertruck” announced in 2019—Tesla also produces energy storage devices, automobile accessories, merchandise, and, through its acquisition of SolarCity in 2016, solar power systems.1719 In 2020, Tesla’s stock price experienced an astronomical surge, having risen 705% from the start of the year to mid-December.20 It joined the S&P 500 that same month, the largest company added thus far.21

3. Bernard Arnault

Bernard Arnault

Age: 72
Residence: Paris28
CEO and Chair: LVMH (LVMUY)28
Net Worth: $150 billion2
Christian Dior Ownership Stake: 97.5% ($109 billion)27
Other Assets: Moelis & Company equity ($21.4 billion public assets), Hermès equity ($2.23 billion public assets), Carrefour equity ($1.26 billion public assets), and $4.50 billion in cash27
French national Bernard Arnault is the chair and CEO of LVMH, the world’s largest luxury goods company.2728 This business owns some of the biggest brands on Earth, including Louis Vuitton, Hennessey, Marc Jacobs, Sephora, and many more.29 The majority of his wealth, however, actually comes from his massive stake in Christian Dior SE, the holding company that controls 41.2% of LVMH.30 His shares in Christian Dior SE, plus an additional 6.2% in LVMH, are held through his family-owned holding company, Group Arnault SE.2731

An engineer by training, Arnault’s business chops became apparent while working for his father’s construction firm, Ferret-Savinel, which he would take control of in 1971.31 He later converted Ferret-Savinel to a real estate company named Férinel Inc. in 1979.32

4. Bill Gate

Bill Gate

Age: 65
Residence: Medina, Wash.35
Cofounder: Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)36
Net Worth: $124 billion2
Microsoft Ownership Stake: 1.3% ($25.8 billion)34
Other Assets: Canadian National Railway equity ($11.8 billion public asset), John Deere equity ($11.8 billion public asset), Republic Services equity ($11.1 billion public asset), Ecolab equity ($6.59 billion public asset), Givaudan equity ($4.39 billion public asset), FEMSA equity ($2.22 billion public asset), Waste Management equity ($1.93 billion public asset), Berkshire Hathaway equity ($1.72 billion public asset), AutoNation equity ($1.67 billion public asset), Diageo equity ($1.56 billion public asset), Arch Capital Group equity ($1.39 billion public asset), Sika AG equity ($1.26 billion public asset), Signet Jewelers equity ($760 million public asset), Televisa equity ($300 million public asset), Vroom equity ($260 million public asset), Western Asset/Claymore Inflation-Linked Opportunities & Income Fund equity ($229.4 million public total assets), Liberty Global equity ($225 million public asset), Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas equity ($187 million public asset), Otter Tail Corporation equity ($160 million public asset), Coca-Cola FEMSA equity ($121 million public asset), Owens Corning equity ($38.4 million public asset), and $57.2 billion in cash34

While attending Harvard University in 1975, Bill Gates went to work alongside his childhood friend Paul Allen to develop new software for the original microcomputers. Following this project’s success, Gates dropped out of Harvard in his junior year and went on to found Microsoft with Allen.36

In addition to being the largest software company in the world, Microsoft also produces its own line of personal computers, publishes books through Microsoft Press, provides email services through its Exchange server, and sells video game systems and associated peripheral devices.373839 Originally Microsoft’s chief software architect, Gates later transitioned to the role of chair in 2008. He had joined Berkshire Hathaway’s board in 2004.4041 He stepped down from both boards on March 13, 2020.4243

5. Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

Age: 36
Residence: Palo Alto, Calif.48
Cofounder, CEO, and Chair: Facebook (FB)48 49
Net Worth: $97 billion2
Facebook Ownership Stake: 13% ($115 billion)47
Other Assets: $2.93 billion in cash and $225 million in real estate47
Mark Zuckerberg first developed Facebook alongside fellow students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes while attending Harvard University in 2004.49 As Facebook began to be used at other universities, Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to focus entirely on his growing business.4750 Today, Zuckerberg is the CEO and chair of Facebook, which had more than 2.8 billion monthly active users as of Q3 2020.5152

Facebook is the world’s largest social networking service, enabling its users to create a personal profile, connect with friends and family, join or create groups, and much more. As the website is free to use, most of the company’s revenue is generated through advertising.49 Facebook (the company) is also host to several other brands, including photo-sharing app Instagram, which it acquired in 2012; cross-platform mobile messaging service WhatsApp and virtual-reality–headset producer Oculus, both acquired in 2014; Workplace, its enterprise-connectivity platform; Portal, its line of video-calling devices; and Novi, its digital wallet for the Diem payment system.

6. Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett

Age: 90
Residence: Omaha, Neb.61
CEO: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A)61

Net Worth: $96 billion2
Berkshire Hathaway Ownership Stake: 38.001% ($98.503 billion total)60
Other Assets: Wells Fargo & Co. equity ($76.6 million public assets), U.S. Bancorp equity ($50.2 million public assets), Seritage Growth Properties equity ($38 million public assets), and $1.05 billion in cash60
The most famous living value investor, Warren Buffett filed his first tax return in 1944 at age 14, declaring his earnings from his boyhood paper route.62 He first bought shares in a textile company called Berkshire Hathaway in 1962, becoming the majority shareholder by 1965.6063 He expanded the company to insurance and other investments in 1967.64 Now, Berkshire Hathaway is a half-trillion-dollar company, with a single share of stock trading at more than $390,000 per share in early 2021.65

Widely known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett made the majority of his fortune through purchasing shares in companies with easy-to-understand business operations.6061 While many investors have been piling into tech companies, Buffett has opted for a more cautious approach, only buying from well-established companies that are easier to understand, such as IBM and Apple.6667 He is also a noted Bitcoin skeptic.68 Additionally, Buffett has also outright purchased a lengthy list of companies over the years, including Dairy Queen, Duracell, GEICO, and Kraft Heinz.

7. Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison

Age: 76
Residence: Lanai, Hawaii71
Cofounder, CTO, and Chair: Oracle (ORCL)71
Net Worth: $93 billion2
Oracle Ownership Stake: 35.4% ($61.8 billion)70 71
Other Assets: Tesla equity ($10.1 billion public assets) and $14.9 billion in cash70
After dropping out of the University of Chicago in 1966, Larry Ellison moved to California and worked as a computer programmer for several companies over the years.70 First, in 1973, he was an employee of the electronics company Ampex, where he met future partners Ed Oates and Bob Miner. Three years later, Ellison joined Precision Instruments, serving as the company’s vice president of research and development.

By 1977, Ellison had founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL) alongside Oates and Miner, which, two years later, released Oracle, the first commercial relational database program to utilize Structured Query Language.72 The database program proved so popular that SDL would change its name to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982.72 Additionally, Ellison joined Tesla’s board in December 2018.73

Oracle is the second-largest software company and provides a wide variety of cloud computing programs as well as other software, such as Java and Linux, and the Oracle Exadata computing platform.37747576 The business has also grown through the acquisition of several major companies, including human resources management systems provider PeopleSoft in 2005, customer relationship management applications provider Siebel in 2006, enterprise infrastructure software provider BEA Systems in 2008, and hardware-and-software developer Sun Microsystems in 2010

8. Larry Page

Larry Page

Age: 48
Residence: Palo Alto, Calif.83
Cofounder and Board Member: Alphabet (GOOG)83
Net Worth: $91.5 billion2

Alphabet Ownership Stake: 6% ($89.7 billion total)82
Other Assets: $12.6 billion in cash82
Like several tech billionaires on this list, Larry Page’s claim to fame got its start in a college dorm room. While attending Stanford University in 1995, Page and his friend Sergey Brin came up with the idea of improving data extraction capabilities while accessing the Internet. The duo devised a new type of search engine technology they dubbed “BackRub,” named after its ability to analyze “backing links.” From there, Page and Brin went on to found Google in 1998, with the former serving as CEO of the company until he stepped down in 2001.8284

Google is one of the largest Internet search engines on the planet, accounting for more than 70% of global online search requests.85 In 2006, Google (the company) expanded by purchasing YouTube, the biggest platform for user-submitted videos.84 Then, 2008 saw the release of the first mobile phone utilizing the Android operating system, which was originally developed by Android Inc. prior to Google acquiring the company in 2005.8687 Today, Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet, a holding company for which Page served as CEO from 2015 to 2019

9. Sergey Brin

Sergey Brin

Age: 47
Residence: Los Altos, Calif.91
Cofounder and Board Member: Alphabet (GOOG)91
Net Worth: $89 billion2
Alphabet Ownership Stake: 5% ($86.2 billion total)90
Other Assets: $12.7 billion in cash90
What makes Google unique, compared to the other companies featured on this list, is that its co-founders are relatively close in terms of total wealth. Sergey Brin’s involvement in Google follows a similar path to Page’s. After the duo founded the company in 1998, Brin served as copresident alongside Page until Eric Schmidt took over as CEO in 2001. Similarly, after founding Alphabet in 2015, Brin acted as the holding company’s president before stepping down in 2019 when Sundar Pichai took over as CEO.9293

In addition to being a highly popular search engine, Google also offers a suite of online tools and services, known as Google Workplaces, which includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and more.94 In addition to software, Google also deals in a wide variety of electronic devices, including its Pixel smartphones, its Pixelbook computers and tablets, its Nest smart home devices, and its Stadia gaming platform.

10. Mukesh Ambani

Mukesh Ambani

Age: 63
Residence: Mumbai, India102
Chair and Managing Director: Reliance Industries103
Net Worth: $84.5 billion2
Reliance Industries Ownership Stake: 42% ($73.79 billion total)101
Other Assets: Mumbai residential property ($410 million private assets) and $1.60 billion in cash101
Reliance Industries was originally founded as a small textile manufacturer by Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966.102 In 1979, Dhirubhai’s son Mukesh moved to Palo Alto, Calif., to attend Stanford Business School. A year later, Mukesh returned home at the behest of his father to oversee the construction of a new polyester mill, during which time he also joined Reliance Industries’ board. Rather than moving back to the U.S. to finish his university program, Mukesh remained in India to lead Reliance’s backward integration initiative. During the 1990s, he spearheaded the company’s efforts to create—as well as acquire—multiple petrochemical plants and petroleum refineries.101103

In 2002, Dhirubhai suffered a stroke and passed away. The lack of a will resulted in a feud between Mukesh and his brother Anil over how their father’s empire would be distributed. Three years later, as the result of a settlement brokered by their mother, the siblings agreed to split the business, with Mukesh retaining control over refining, petrochemicals, oil and gas, and textile operations. This didn’t completely ease the tension between the two brothers, as they would neither settle a legal dispute over sharing natural gas nor dissolve their noncompete agreements until 2010. In 2013, Mukesh and Anil seemingly buried the hatchet with the announcement of a $220 million pact to share a fiber-optic network between their two companies.

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