William Henry Gates III
Net worth: $59 billion – As of Sept. 2011
Source: Microsoft, self-made
Age: 55 ,Marital Status: Married
Organization: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Title: Co-Chair ,Education: Dropout, Harvard University
American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, author, and former chairman of Microsoft, William Henry “Bill” Gates III, has a net worth of $56 billion as of March 2011, according to Forbes list of billionaires. The software visionary is now the world’s second-richest man and America’s richest person. He founded the software company with Paul Allen. They officially established Microsoft on April 4, 1975, with Gates as the CEO. Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution.
In 2008, he stepped down from day-to-day duties at Microsoft to devote his talents and riches to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Strong-armed (with help from henchman Warren Buffett) 40 of the world’s wealthiest to sign his “Giving Pledge,” promising to donate the majority of their wealth to charity during their lifetimes. Early on Gates dabbled in different areas, giving money to Harvard’s computer science department, libraries, pilot high schools and local Seattle charities. His giving really took off in 1999, when he funded his family foundation with $16 billion in Microsoft stock. Since then, with further contributions from Gates and pal Warren Buffett, the foundation has become the preeminent philanthropic institution in the world. Among its main initiatives: It will spend $10 billion over the next 10 years on vaccines. In the U.S., education–teacher training in particular–is its main project.
Gates’ wife, Melinda Gates,Co-Chair, operator of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
No longer the planet’s richest person, but that’s because he’s given nearly $30 billion philanthropically. World’s most influential charity tackles AIDS, tuberculosis, polio and funds famine-resistant crops to fight hunger. Worth $54 billion, Gates holds 70% of his wealth in investment fund Cascade, dabbling in everything from autos to hedge funds to trash collecting.
Gates’ 66,000-square-foot compound is built into a hillside on the edge of Lake Washington, near Seattle. Its enviable amenities include: a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system, a 2,500-square-foot gym and a 1,000-square-foot dining room, which seats 24. For a personal touch, out-of-shape visitors can skip the 84-step hike to the ground floor and opt for an elevator ride instead.