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5 Ways The Most Influential Techies Became Billionaires

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5 Ways The Most Influential Techies Became Billionaires

The world of tech appears to exist within its own financial sphere, safe and separate from the uncertainties of the economy elsewhere. Every day new and exciting business and products seem to spring up from the ideas goldmine that is Silicon Valley and while not every company can rise to Fortune Five Hundred status, there appears to be an almost unending supply of cash out there. A job at Google is the dream job du jour among teenagers, and Steve Jobs has replaced Bono as the aspirational idol of today’s talented youth. If you want to follow in the footsteps of these billionaire techies, there are plenty of success stories to choose from – all featuring tech gurus whose original ideas made them young millionaires. There is simply silly money to be made in Silicon Valley; as Microsoft founder Bill Gates demonstrates, with his current net worth of $66 billion, the sky’s the limit for earning in the expanding technology industry. Tech start-ups have spearheaded the movement from conventional banking and lending methods to crowd funding using sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, meaning that it’s now easier than ever for a bright young thing with an idea to become an entrepreneur with a global reach.`

Recently, the financial and industrial success of the leading tech entrepreneurs has gained them rock-star status, with the most enviable among them raking in billions. The image of the entrepreneur has always been that of a single-minded and opinionated individual and nowhere is this clearer than in the tech business:: heavyweights like Mark Zukerberg are now as famous for their domineering – and at times disagreeable-  personalities as they are for the companies they founded. If you think you’re personality is adequately steely and you’ve got a good enough idea, we’ve come up with a list of top 5 tips to follow for for becoming a tech billionaire. Intimidating demeanor optional.

5. Start Young

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There’s no time to lose in the race towards the billions that can be made in technology. Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg was a college undergraduate when he began working on the site and these days the earlier you start, the higher your chances of bringing in the cash. Zukerberg isn’t the only one to kick off his career young: Pinterest founder Evan Sharp turned 30 this year and already heads up a company valued at $3.8 billion, but even that is pretty old in the tech universe. Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel is only 23, and is already responsible for an App that became an overnight household name. In fact, a glance around any tech conference today will tell you that 30 is practically middle aged in the tech world, as the kids start almost weirdly young these days: at the Wired conference in London this year some of the leading young programming speakers were so small, they couldn’t reach the podium. The downside to this career path is that ploughing away to make it big is the unglamorous aspect to the tech lifestyle. Hard work and dedication at school is essential and with the dropout rates in science and technology courses at university still high, this is an uphill struggle. At least you know it pays to be smart.

4. Sell, Sell, Sell!

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Presuming you took our advice and started out on your tech adventure at a young age, you may well want to move on to bigger and better things, quickly growing weary of the successful tech company you’ve founded. Such is the conundrum faced by many a tech entrepreneur and in this case, the best thing you can do is sell on the company when it’s at its most valuable. The sale will easily get you the cash to found your next big adventure and your savvy business skills will earn you the respect of the entrepreneurial world. Tech legend Elon Musk pioneered the trick of founding and selling a number of companies – most notably PayPal, which he co-founded. When Ebay bought PayPal in 2002 for $1.5 billion, Musk cushioned his bank account with around $175 million. A slick operator, Musk also demonstrates the value of stating early: he founded his first company at the age of 12.

3. When You Get Big, Go Bigger

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If you decide you want to hang on to your blossoming start up business and selling isn’t on the cards, that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels when it comes to making more money from your successful tech brand. Take Snapchat for example: the company, which has recently been valued at around $3 billion,  has tech moguls the world over clamouring to snap up some of the gold from the popular picture messaging service; they even had an offer from Facebook. But what did the boys at Snapchat do? What any clever entrepreneur does, they declined the first offer, playing hard to get and making their brand all the more desirable in the competitive tech world. Once you’ve sufficiently increased the value – or at least the perceived value – of your company then you enter the real world of high stakes gambling: the stock market. All the biggest tech companies – from Microsoft to Apple, Twitter to Amazon – trade on the stock market. But techie beware, this is not without its risks. Many a tech company has begun floating on the stock market only to see the share price sink significantly in a short space of time. Perhaps while you’re working hard learning the tech ropes in college, you should sit in on some economics classes.

2. Get A Movie Made About You

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Having graduated to the big time of the tech entrepreneur club, a lucky few Silicone Valley legends will reach the dizzying heights of Hollywood. Where once it was the Gordon Gekkos of the world who inspired the film adaptations of crazy business adventures, now it’s the likes of Mark Zukerberg gracing the big screen, not to mention Ashton Kutcher’s recent turn as Apple founder Steve Jobs. Flattering as it may be to know that your career and business sense are so exciting that they’ve made their way to the silver screen, you shouldn’t sign away your film rights lightly. Anyone who watched The Social Network knows that most characters in the movie didn’t come across as particularly likable, least of all the leading character of Zukerberg himself. The problem with being so successful that you’re immortalized in film is that you may have stepped on some toes on the way – as The Social Network proudly proclaimed, you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies. Nothing makes for more watchable viewing than a wealthy tech geek playing the villain so the naive tech guru should approach any and all movie producers with caution.

1. Get Into Politics

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And so it goes, any successful and powerful figure can segue into the world of politics to use their influence for good, or evil, or whatever ends these rich, formidable men and women desire. You may think that by the time you’ve become a tech billionaire so famous that there are movies being made about your life’s work, you’ve done pretty well for yourself. You’d be wrong. This is crucial moment where you really have to go big or go home, and those at the top always go big. So big, they make it all the way to the White House. While there hasn’t been a tech mogul in the Oval Office yet (Bill Gates for President anyone?) there’s certainly a reciprocal relationship between the tech and political worlds. This past week Barack Obama himself met with the leaders of all the top tech companies in the world, from titans like Google and Apple, to newer contenders such as Dropbox, LinkedIn and – perhaps surprisingly? – Netflix. This move in itself is undoubtedly a nod to the power of the tech industry, but what’s even more interesting is the level of freedom and potential influence the executives had in the meeting: Allegedly, they even brought up the issue of the NSA’s spying activity. This may seem like a far-off dream to the rookies still at stage 5 on our list, appealing for funding on Kickstarter, but have faith: With a great idea, a lot of hard work, some serious determination, and a sound sense of the trends and interests in technology, you too could be lobbying the US President over some coffee in the White House.

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