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The Richest Man in America for the Past 20 Years

National Money
The Richest Man in America for the Past 20 Years

The rich trend in America remains, that the rich people keeps on getting richer. However, the trends is also consistent for Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates who remains to be on the top of the richest Americans for the 20th straight year with a net worth of $72 million.

Forbes has recently released its annuals Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America. The 400 people included in the list have a whopping joint net worth of $2 trillion. The figure is actually higher by $300 million from last years’ combined net worth.

Bill Gates and his Billions

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Even with Bill Gates’ philanthropy works and his promise to give to the needy most of his riches, he is still constantly getting richer as the years go by. Contrary to popular belief, Microsoft is not really his main source for his billions.

Microsoft is only said to make up only one-fifth of Gates’ $72 billion net worth. In August, Microsoft shares went up to $35 when Steve Ballmer announced his resignation. Today, there are still some shares being traded over $32.

The bulk of Gates’ Billions actually comes from other investments and companies. Cascade, Gates’ investment firm, owns a large share of Deere & Co., the Canadian National Railway and the Mexican Coca-Cola bottler Femsa.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Gates garnered almost $10 billion since January 2013. This is in addition to the $7 billion difference from his net worth in January 2012, as compared to his net worth at the start of 2013.

The Giving Pledge and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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Bill Gates is one of the founders of The Giving Pledge, together with Warren Buffett. The campaign is to encourage wealthy people in the world to pledge 50% or more of their fortune to charity.

The pledge campaign began when Buffett committed a substantial amount of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Although both Gates and Buffett have organized dinners for confidential attendees, there have been leaks in the media with regard to the duo’s objectives.

Finally, in June 2010, the campaign for the pledge was formally announced. Gates and Buffett both said that eligible pledgees were then being contacted to join the pledge.

Gates’ philanthropy works and endeavors is said to be even more prominent with the creation of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It is currently the biggest transparently operated private foundation in the world. It aims to enhance healthcare and to reduce extreme poverty.

Currently, the foundation has three trustees: the spouses Bill & Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett. As of September 2012, the foundation has a total of $36.2 billion.

Bill and Melinda were ranked as the second most generous philanthropists in America in 2007. Warren Buffett, another trustee, was the first. It just goes to say that indeed, the Gates’ family has a very giving and selfless spirit.

Wealth and Technology

Warren Buffett, Melinda French Gates, Bill Gates

As Bill Gates continues to be the richest American, it must also be noted that a bulk of the billionaires in the Forbes 400 list are involved with technology. there are 12 out of the top 50 who made money in technology. Ellison, the Oracle CEO, is in 3rd place. Bloomberg is in 10th. Amazon’s executive Bezos is at 12th . Google CEOs, Page and Brin, are at 13th and 14th, respectively. Zuckerberg, one of the youngest billionaires, is in 20th, followed by Microsoft’s Ballmer. There’s also Dell at 25th, Microsoft’s Co-Founder Paul Allen at 26th, Apple’s Jobs & Family at 35th, eBay’s Omidyar at 47th and Google’s Schmidt at 49th.

Starting Out with Micro-Soft

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In 1975, Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, or MITS, the creators of the then new microcomputer. Gates and Paul Allen told them that they were working on a BASIC (a programming code) interpreter for the MITS’ Altair 8800. However, the duo really didn’t have any code written for the Altair and they didn’t even have the Altair itself; they just wanted to see MITS’s interest. The MITS president agreed, and they met for a demo.

Over the weeks, they developed an Altair emulator, which ran on a minicomputer. Afterwards, they made the BASIC interpreter. They went to Albuquerque for the demo, and resulted in a deal with MITS to name it as the Altair BASIC. Allen was eventually hired, and Gates then took a leave of absence from Harvard to work with Allen at MITS. The partnership was named “Micro-Soft”. After a year, the hyphen was dropped and it was officially registered with the Office of the Secretary of the State of New Mexico.

Microsoft’s BASIC became famous, but Gates found out that there’s a pre-market copy in the community that was actually leaked. In 1976, he wrote an Open Letter to Hobbyists, saying that MITS could not produce, distribute and maintain high-quality software without being paid for. Gates persisted that software developers should be paid.

Subsequently, Microsoft parted ways with MITS in late 1976. It moved to Bellevue from Albuquerque in 1979. During these years, Gates was very hands-on as he personally reviewed each line of code that Microsoft shipped out, while at the same time, overseeing business matters.

The Bill Gates’ Management Style

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From 1975 to 2006, Gates was the primary person behind Microsoft’s product and business strategy. He has gained a reputation as the executive who cannot be reached, and who does not return phone calls.

There was another story that said that Gates was defeated in a certain game by another executive, 35 times out of 37 games. After a month, they again met and Gates won or tied each game, showing that he indeed studied the game until he finally solved it. Such further shows that Gates, indeed, is a competitor.

Gates regularly met with the senior managers and program managers. He has a reputation of interrupting presentations with “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!” However, it is also said that his target person should just defend his proposal well until Gates was fully convinced.

His role over at Microsoft is mostly with regard to the management and business side of the company, although he was an active software programmer during the company’s early years.

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