Do you dream of being one of the richest person in the world? Who doesn’t? As of September 2021, there are reportedly 2,755 billionaires on Earth, with an approximated cumulative net value of $13.1 trillion. Of this amount, the top 10 wealthiest people in the world account for $1,153 billion, or approximately 8.8 percent, which is remarkable when you consider that they represent around 0.36 percent of the total billionaires. According to the Forbes World’s Billionaires List, here are the 10 people currently estimated as the wealthiest as of September 2021.
1. Jeff Bezos Richest Person in the World
- Age: 57
- Residence: Seattle, US
- Founder and Executive Chair: Amazon
- Net Worth: $177 billion
- Amazon Ownership Stake: 11 percent ($178 billion)
- Other Assets: The Washington Post ($250 million personal assets), Blue Origin ($7.15 billion private investments), and $13.4 billion in cash
Jeff Bezos, in 1994, founded Amazon.com in a garage in Seattle, soon after he quit from the hedge fund company D.E. Shaw. In fact, he had initially started with the idea of an online bookstore to his former boss David E. Shaw, who wasn’t interested.
Although Amazon.com primarily started by selling books, it has since modified into a one-stop shop for almost everything under the sun and is considered the world’s largest retailer. At any time, it is hard to contradict its self-description as the “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Its pattern of constant modification is apparent in some of its stunning expansions, including procuring Whole Foods in 2017 and starting its own branded over-the-counter drugs in August 2017.
In 2020, Amazon’s stock price skyrocketed on the intensified demand for online shopping as lockdowns urged people to stay home. On July 5, 2021, Bezos stepped down as the CEO of the e-commerce company and shifted to his new role as its executive chairman.
Bezos, for the first time took Amazon public in 1997 and became the first man since Bill Gates in 1999 to obtain a net worth of more than $100 billion. Bezos’s other successful projects are as follows:
- Aerospace company Blue Origin.
- The Washington Post, which he purchased in 2013.
- The 10,000-year clock, also known as the Long Now.
On July 20, 2021, Bezos, with his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Dutch student Oliver Daemen finished Blue Origin’s first successful crewed flight, reaching an altitude of just above 62 miles before landing safely.
2. Elon Musk, Owner of SpaceX
- Age: 50
- Residence: Austin, Texas
- Co-founder and CEO: Tesla
- Net Worth: $151 billion1
- Tesla Ownership Stake: 20% ($125 billion)
- Other Assets: Space Exploration Technologies ($29.8 billion private assets) and The Boring Company ($101 million personal assets)15
Elon Musk had worked in several different companies over the years. Initially enrolled at Stanford University, Musk deferred his attendance to launch Zip2, one of the earliest online navigation services. A part of the proceeds from this effort was then reinvested to create X.com, an online payment system that later became PayPal. While both of these companies were eventually sold to other firms, Musk has continued his status as the CEO and lead designer of his third project, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which targets to make space exploration more affordable.
In 2004, Musk became a significant investor of Tesla Motors (now Tesla), which led to him being declared the co-founder and his current position as the CEO of the electric vehicle firm. In addition to its line of electric automobiles, including sedans, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and the popular “Cybertruck” announced in 2019, Tesla also manufactures energy storage devices, automobile accessories, merchandise, and, through its takeover of SolarCity in 2016, solar power systems.
In 2020, Tesla’s share price encountered an enormous surge, having increased 705 percent from the starting of the year to mid-December. Tesla joined the S&P 500 that same month, the largest company added to date.
In 2016, Musk established two more companies, Neuralink and The Boring Company, serving as the CEO of Neuralink. Neuralink develops brain-machine interface devices to help individuals with paralysis and potentially allow users to interact with their computers and mobile devices mentally. Meanwhile, The Boring Company produces boring machines for the purpose of drilling tunnels for underground public transportation systems, which would decrease traffic congestion in major cities. It also (shortly) sold a handheld flamethrower.
3. Bernard Arnault
- Age: 72
- Residence: Paris
- CEO and Chair: LVMH
- Net Worth: $150 billion
- Christian Dior Ownership Stake: 97.5 percent ($133 billion)
- Other Assets: Moelis & Company equity ($23.3 billion public assets), Hermès equity ($2.23 billion public assets), Carrefour equity ($900 million public assets), and $9.48 billion in cash.
Bernard Arnault, a French by birth, is the chairman and CEO of LVMH, world’s largest luxury products company. This company owns some of the biggest brands on Earth, including Louis Vuitton, Hennessey, Marc Jacobs, and Sephora, among others. However, the bulk of his wealth primarily comes from his massive stake in Christian Dior SE, the holding company that controls 41.25 percent of LVMH. His shares in Christian Dior SE, also an additional 6.2 percent in LVMH, are held within his family-owned holding company, Groupe Arnault SE.
An engineer by education, Arnault’s business instincts became apparent while working for his father’s construction firm, Ferret-Savinel, which he took control of in 1971. He later transformed Ferret-Savinel into a real estate firm named as Ferinel Inc. in 1979.
Arnault remained Férinel’s chairman for another six years until he procured and reorganized luxury goods maker Financière Agache in 1984, ultimately selling all of its holdings other than Christian Dior and Le Bon Marché. He was called to invest in LVMH in 1987 and became the bulk shareholder, chair of the board, and CEO of the company two years later.
4. Bill Gates
- Age: 65
- Residence: Medina, Washington
- Co-founder: Microsoft Corp.
- Net Worth: $124 billion
- Microsoft Ownership Stake: 1.3 percent ($31.2 billion)
- Other Assets: Republic Services equity ($13.5 billion public assets), John Deere equity ($10 billion public assets), Canadian National Railway equity ($9.14 billion public assets), Ecolab equity ($6.92 billion public assets), Givaudan equity ($5.56 billion public assets), FEMSA equity ($2.42 billion public assets), Waste Management equity ($2.26 billion public assets), Berkshire Hathaway equity ($1.87 billion public assets), Diageo equity ($1.77 billion public assets), Sika AG equity ($1.5 billion public assets), Arch Capital Group equity ($1.42 billion public assets), AutoNation equity ($1.33 billion public assets), Liberty Global equity ($251 million public assets), Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas equity ($200 million public assets), Otter Tail Corporation equity ($190 million public assets), Western Asset Inflation-Linked Opportunities & Income Fund equity ($180 million public assets), Western Asset Inflation-Linked Income Fund ($69.9 million public assets), and $62.6 billion in cash32
While attending Harvard University in 1975, Bill Gates went to work with his childhood friend Paul Allen to build a new software for the original microcomputers. Following this project’s success, Gates dropped out of Harvard in his junior year and founded Microsoft with Allen.
In addition to being the largest software company globally, 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. Primarily Microsoft’s chief software architect, Gates, later took over the role of chairman in 2008. He had joined Berkshire Hathaway’s board in 2004. He stepped down from both boards on March 13, 2020.
In 2000, Gates’s two nonprofit organizations, the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation were joined to create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, of which he and his ex-wife, Melinda Gates, are co-chairs. Through the foundation, he has spent billions to fight polio and malaria. Additionally, he pledged $50 million in 2014 to help fight Ebola. As of 2021, the foundation has spent more than $1.8 billion to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2010, along with Warren Buffett, Bill Gates started the Giving Pledge, a campaign encouraging wealthy individuals to commit to donating the majority of their wealth to humanitarian causes.
5. Mark Zuckerberg
- Age: 37
- Residence: Palo Alto, Calif.
- Co-founder, CEO, and Chair: Facebook
- Net Worth: $97 billion1
- Facebook Ownership Stake: 13 percent ($138 billion)
- Other Assets: $3.35 billion in cash and $225 million in real estate
Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes, developed Facebook while attending Harvard University in 2004. As Facebook began to be used at other colleges, Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to focus entirely on his growing business. Today, Zuckerberg is the CEO and the chairman of Facebook, which had more than 2.8 billion monthly active users as of the First Quarter of 2021.
Facebook is the world’s largest and actively growing social networking service, allowing 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.
Facebook (the company) is also manager of several other brands, including the photo-sharing app Instagram, which was procured 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.
Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, established the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in 2015, with each of them acting as co-CEO. Their charity attempts to leverage technology to correct societal problems, such as improving the access and quality of education, reforming the criminal justice system and the U.S. immigration system, improving housing affordability, and eventually eradicating all diseases.
6. Warren Buffett
- Age: 91
- Residence: Omaha, Nebraska
- CEO: Berkshire Hathaway
- Net Worth: $96 billion1
- Berkshire Hathaway Ownership Stake: 38.001% ($103 billion total)
- 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 $1.10 billion in cash
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. He first purchased shares in a textile company called Berkshire Hathaway in 1962, thereby becoming the majority shareholder by 1965. He expanded the company to insurance and other investments in 1967. Now, Berkshire Hathaway is a half-trillion-dollar company, with a single share of stock trading at more than $410,000 per share in mid-2021.
Popularly known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett made the bulk of his fortune through purchasing shares in companies with easy-to-understand business operations. While many investors have been gathering into tech companies, Buffett has opted for a more careful approach, only buying from well-established companies that are easier to understand, such as IBM and Apple. He is also a noted Bitcoin agnostic. Additionally, Buffett has also entirely purchased a lengthy list of companies over the years, including Dairy Queen, Duracell, GEICO, and Kraft Heinz.
Outside of investing, Buffett has donated much of his wealth toward humanitarian efforts. Between 2006 and 2020, Buffett gave away $41 billion, the majority of which went to either the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or his children’s charities. Buffett launched the Giving Pledge alongside Bill Gates in 2010.
7. Larry Ellison
- Age: 77
- Residence: Lanai, Hawaii
- Co-founder, CTO, and Chairman: Oracle
- Net Worth: $93 billion1
- Oracle Ownership Stake: 35.4 percent ($74.3 billion)
- Other Assets: Tesla equity ($11.1 billion public assets) and $16.6 billion in cash
After dropping out of the University of Chicago in 1966, Larry Ellison shifted to California and served as a computer programmer for several companies over the years. First, in 1973, he was an employee of the electronics company Ampex, where he met his future partners Ed Oates and Bob Miner. Three years following, Ellison joined Precision Instruments, serving as the company’s vice president of research and development.
By 1977, Ellison had established Software Development Laboratories (SDL) along with Oates and Miner, which, two years later, released Oracle, the first commercial relational database program to utilize Structured Query Language. The database program proved so popular that SDL would change its name to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982. Additionally, Ellison joined Tesla’s board in December 2018.
Oracle is the second-largest software company and provides a wide variety of cloud computing programs and other software, such as Java and Linux, and the Oracle Exadata computing platform. The business has also grown by acquiring several significant 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 2009.
Ellison has spent millions in luxury real estate over the last ten years, primarily in California. Likely his most majestic expenditure, Ellison bought nearly the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai for $300 million, building a hydroponic farm and luxury spa there. He has also donated millions of dollars to philanthropic causes over the years, mainly to medical research. Most recently, in 2016, Ellison gave $200 million to the University of Southern California for a new cancer research center.
8. Larry Page
- Age: 48
- Residence: Palo Alto, California
- Co-founder and Board Member: Alphabet
- Net Worth: $91.5 billion1
- Alphabet Ownership Stake: 6 percent ($115 billion total)
- Other Assets: $13.8 billion in cash
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 invented 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.
Google is one of the largest Internet search engines on the planet, accounting for more than 70 percent of global online search requests. In 2006, Google (the company) expanded by acquiring YouTube, the biggest platform for user-submitted videos. Then, 2008 saw the release of the first mobile phone utilizing the Android operating system, which Android Inc. originally developed prior to Google acquiring the company in 2005. Today, Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet, a holding company for which Page served as CEO from 2015 to 2019.
Page is also a founding investor of Planetary Resources, a space exploration, and asteroid-mining company. Initially established in 2009, the firm was acquired by blockchain firm ConsenSys in 2018 amid funding problems. He has also shown an interest in “flying car” companies, having invested in Kitty Hawk and Opener.
9. Sergey Brin
- Age: 48
- Residence: Los Altos, California
- Co-founder and Board Member: Alphabet
- Net Worth: $89 billion
- Alphabet Ownership Stake: 5 percent ($110.1 billion total)
- Other Assets: $13.9 billion in cash
Compared to the other companies featured on this list, what makes Google unique is that its co-founders are relatively close in terms of total wealth. Sergey Brin’s engagement in Google follows a similar path to Page’s. After the duo founded the company in 1998, Brin served as co-president alongside Page until Eric Schmidt took over as CEO in 2001. Similarly, after establishing Alphabet in 2015, Brin acted as the holding company’s president before stepping down in 2019 when Sundar Pichai took over as CEO.
In addition to being a top-rated search engine, Google also offers a suite of online tools and services, known as Google Workspace, which includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, and more. In addition to software, Google also deals in various electronic devices, including its Pixel smartphones, its Pixelbook computers and tablets, its Nest smart home devices, and its Stadia gaming platform.
Brin spent much of 2019 focusing on X, Alphabet’s “moonshot” research laboratory, responsible for innovative technologies like the Waymo self-driving cars and Google Glass smart glasses. He has also donated millions of dollars toward researching a cure for Parkinson’s and partnered with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to devise new drugs against LRRK2, one of the most significant genetic contributors to the disease.
10. Mukesh Ambani
- Age: 64
- Residence: Mumbai, India
- Chair and Managing Director: Reliance Industries
- Net Worth: $84.5 billion
- Reliance Industries Ownership Stake: 42 percent ($86.09 billion total)
- Other Assets: Mumbai residential property ($410 million private assets) and $975 million in cash
Reliance Industries was initially founded as a small textile manufacturer by Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966. In 1979, Dhirubhai’s son Mukesh moved to Palo Alto, California, to attend Stanford Business School. A year later, Mukesh returned home at his father’s command 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 initiated the company’s efforts to create and acquire multiple petrochemical plants and petroleum refineries.
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, due to 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 entirely ease the tension between the two brothers, as they would neither settle a legal dispute over sharing natural gas nor dissolve their non-compete 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.
Reliance Industries has founded several highly successful subsidiaries under Mukesh’s leadership, including Reliance Retail and telecommunications company Jio. He is also a member of The Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, an elected Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Global Advisory Council of Bank of America, and a member of the International Advisory Council of The Brookings Institution.
If you want to get a little nearer to be among Forbe’s richest billionaires list, you might need to become a technological innovator or a retail king. Or you can keep it simple and target on value investing. It also wouldn’t hurt to start by coming from wealth, as Arnault, Ambani, and some other super-wealthy individuals did; think Jim Walton (#18 on Forbes’ list) and Charles Koch (#27). However, the most exceptional fortunes on this decorated list started off as great ideas from people with the drive, creativity, and connections to make them take off.