Money – as a kid it seems like some elusive concept, simply a means to purchasing that snack pack at the canteen or saving enough for a Tamagotchi. But as you get older, the importance of those numbers in the ole bank account take on an ever-increasing significance. Sure, it’s not something you should base your whole career around. But it is important and as the saying goes, if you can find something you love and make money out of it, you’re well on your way to finding success.
Certainly, to take a look at the Forbes billionaires list of 2019, these mega-rich humans are every inch the successful worker, having found a passion they turned into some of the most lucrative businesses in the world. But as Forbes outlines, even the wealthiest are not immune to economic forces and weak stock markets, as their results found that for only the second year in a decade, both the number of billionaires and their total wealth shrank.
This year, Forbes identified 2,153 billionaires, 55 fewer than 2018. Of those, a record 994, or 46 per cent, are poorer than they were in the previous year. But of course, this is all relative as the ultra-rich still managed to amass a combined worth of $8.7 trillion – a number so staggering, we wouldn’t even know how many zeros are to be written down should you see it printed numerically.
In terms of countries with the most mega-rich humans, the Asia-Pacific was hardest hit with 60 fewer 10-figure fortunes. Leading the charge though, were the Americas and the U.S. which are the only two regions that have more billionaires than they did a year ago. Now, there are a record 607 billionaires in the States, which includes 14 of the world’s 20 richest.
Even though the number of billionaires may have fallen, some resourceful and relentless entrepreneurs still managed to make some big coin, with 195 newcomers joining the ranks. The richest newcomer is Colin Huang, the founder of Chinese discount web retailer Pinduoduo, which went public in the U.S. in July.
Other notable entrants include Spotify’s Daniel EK and Martin Lorentzon; Juul Labs’ James Monsees and Adam Bowen, Kind Bar’s Daniel Lubetzky and cosmetics wunderkind Kylie Jenner, who also happens to be the youngest billionaire at the age of 21. Yikes.
For most of this year, it seemed as if Jeff Bezos, head honcho of Amazon, was relatively safe in his tech fortress as the world's richest man (and in fact, the richest guy in modern history). However a gigantic divorce settlement and a slide in Amazon shares has co-incided to topple him off the top of the list for the first time in what feels like forever.
Once again, it's everyone's favourite tech magnate Bill Gates who retakes the crown — having earned himself a fresh $30 billion USD thanks to a series of shrewd investments and a bump in the value of his 1% stake in Microsoft. Somehow it's comforting to think that the world's richest dude is categorically not a dick.
Following today's news, see below for the updated list of the 10 richest billionaires in the world for 2019, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index.
Bill Gates - $110 billion
With his wife Melinda, Bill Gates chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation. It works to save lives and improve global health and is also working with Rotary International to eliminate polio.
As many will be familiar with, Gates made his fortune with Microsoft but has since sold or given away much of his stake in the company, owning just over 1% of the shares. He has invested in a mix of stocks and other assets but remains a board member of Microsoft, which he founded with Paul Allen in 1975. To date, Gates has donated about US$35.8 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the Gates Foundation.
Jeff Bezos & family - $09 billion
Bezos, who founded e-commerce colossus Amazon in 1994 out of his garage in Seattle, remains CEO with a 16% stake. In 2018, Amazon pulled in $230 billion in revenues and a record $10 billion in net profit, up from $3 billion the year prior. As well as this, Bezos also owns The Washington Post and Blue Origin, an aerospace company that is developing a rocket for commercial use.
Bernard Arnault & family - $102 billion
One of the world’s ultimate taste-makers, Bernard Arnault oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. His luxury goods group, LVMH, posted record sales and profits in 2018, thanks in part to increased spending by Chinese customers. The arts patron is the visionary behind the $135 million Frank Gehry-designed Foundation Louis Vuitton museum near Paris, opened in 2014.
Warren Buffett - $86.6 billion
Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time. He runs Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies, including insurer Geico, battery maker Duracell and restaurant chain Dairy Queen.
Buffett has promised to give away over 99% of his fortune. In 2018, he donated US$3.4 billion, much of it to the foundation of friends Bill and Melinda Gates. In 2010, he and Gates launched the Giving Pledge, asking billionaires to commit to donating half their wealth to charitable causes.
Mark Zuckerberg - $75.4 billion
After facing another year of criticism for fake news and abuse on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his priority in 2019 is tackling social issues. In April 2018, he testified before Congress after it was revealed that Facebook shared users’ data with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Zuckerberg started Facebook at Harvard in 2004 at the age of 19 for students to match names with faces in class. He took Facebook public in May 2012 and still owns nearly 17% of the stock. In December 2015, he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes.
Amancio Ortego - $68 billion
Amancio Ortega is one of the richest men in Europe and the wealthiest retailer in the world. A pioneer in fast fashion, he cofounded Inditex, known for its Zara fashion chain, with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera in 1975. He owns about 60% of Madrid-listed Inditex, which has 8 brands, including Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, and 7,500 stores around the world. Ortega typically earns more than US$400 million in dividends a year.
Larry Page & Sergey Brin - $63.7 billion & $61.9 billion respectively
Larry Page sits at the helm of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, healthcare division Calico, smart home appliance division Nest and more. He cofounded Google in 1998 with fellow Stanford Ph.D. student Sergey Brin. With Brin, Page invented Google’s PageRank algorithm, which powers the search engine.
Charles & Julia Flesher Koch - $61.6 billion each
Between them, over the past few decades the Koch brothers became the faces of the America's fiscally conservative establishment, entrenched as deep in the industrial heart of the nation as it's possible to get. And it's earned them billions, Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the United States, still thriving as a manufacturing and processing colossus.
Younger brother David passed away earlier this year, leaving his entire share in the company to Julia and instantly making her the world's 10th richest person in the process.