What does it take to become one of the richest duos of all time? Well, a killer idea and a perfect business partner are good places to start. Each of these partners shared a vision, a skill and most importantly, shared the desire to create a legacy – and that’s what they did. Not only did each duo make billions of dollars, they created a product or a brand that influenced everything from business, to technology, to society as a whole. Some of these partnerships have changed the basis of the way we communicate, the way we retrieve information and the way we perceive investments and politics.
Of course, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies between two people who have billions of dollars on the line every day, and as we know, money can sometimes get the better of us all. Many potentially successful business ideas crash and burn before they even have a chance, because they can’t seem to get along with the person they started their idea with to begin with. There are a lot of disadvantages to teaming up with someone, but when you get it right and find a mutual goal combined with the mutual understanding of each other’s responsibilities, you can – literally – strike gold.
While some can be, most business partnerships are not equal. There’s always the one who comes out on top, the one who gets more media coverage, the one who makes more money and the one who gets more of the credit either by mutual agreement or by luck or fluke. Some of these duos are friends, or brothers, while some are just people who happened to work well together and nothing more. Either way, they found a way to make it work and they changed the face of the business world forever, creating a massive fortune for themselves, together.
5. The Apple Steves – Combined Net Worth: $11.1 billion
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, both college dropouts, are the co founders of one of the world’s largest and most profitable information technology companies. Wozniak developed his first computer in 1976 and that year Jobs and Wozniak formed Apple Computer, alongside Ronald Wayne. Apple was incorporated in 1977, leaving Jobs and Wozniak as the only founders after Wayne sold back his shares to them for a mere $800 USD (we’re pretty sure he’s had many sleepless nights since…).
After Jobs’ death in 2011, his estimated net worth was almost $11 billion, while Wozniak’s is currently around $100 million. Wozniak is known as the exclusive creator of the original Apple hardware. He developed the Apple I and Apple II computers in the 1970s, after meeting Jobs through a mutual friend in 1971. The Apple II was the first successful personal computer to be sold and the prototypes for it were assembled by the pair in Jobs’ bedroom and garage. While Wozniak was more into the engineering aspect of the company, Jobs took lead in the managing department. During the first five years of Apple’s existence, profit had a growth rate of 700%, practically doubling revenues every four months. In December 1980, the company went public and created 300 millionaires that same day, more than any other company in history. At the IPO, Jobs possessed 7.5 million stocks worth $217 million and Wozniak handled 4 million stocks worth $116 million. Wozniak gave up his full-time employment at the company 12 years after he helped create it and at that time owned 4% of the company, which was worth about $70 million. He is currently still a shareholder and remains a salaried employee earning approximately $120 000 per year.
4. The Google Guys – Combined Net Worth: $63.5 billion
Of course, the men who created the most visited website in the world and the search engine that become a daily used verb would be on the list of the richest duos. Sergey Brin and Larry Page started Google together in 1996, while they were both PhD students at Stanford University. Over the years, they greatly expanded their search engine with a chain of products, such as Gmail, Google Chrome, Google+, GoogleDocs and Google Earth and formed lucrative partnerships with AOL, Nokia, Ericsson and Microsoft. A year and a half after Google’s IPO in 2004, the value of the stock quadrupled and over 1000 millionaires and 5 billionaires were made. Page became the CEO of Google in 2011 and together, Brin and Page own about 16% of the company. According to Bloomberg’s List of Billionaires, Page’s net worth is estimated at $31.9 billion, while Brin falls slightly behind at $31.6 billion.
3. Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger – Combined Net Worth: $66 billion
Berkshire Hathaway is one of the most successful conglomerate companies in the world and whose president, chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett, is the third richest man in the world with a net worth of $64.7 billion. The company owns Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, GEICO, Helzberg Diamonds, Lubrizol, BNSF, Flight Safety International and NetJets and owns shares in companies such as Heinz, Coca-Cola, IBM and Wells Fargo. The company’s vice-chairman is Charlie Munger, Buffett’s business partner and right-hand man. The two Omaha born and raised boys met while in their thirties, joined forces in 1962 and eventually began to control Berkshire Hathaway three years later. Last year, at 82 years old, Buffet increased his fortune by over $4 billion by buying Heinz and Nevada’s NV Energy utility and by investing billions in Exxon Mobile. “It’s a very peculiar thing for two people this old to be doing something this long. But Warren likes doing it. And I like doing it. It’s much more fun, two than one,” Munger once told author Diana McLain Smith. Buffett has publicly referred to Munger as his partner, whereas Munger openly admits to willingly playing the secondary role in their business relationship. Although Munger reached his net worth of around $1.3 billion because of his position at Berkshire Hathaway and his partnership with Buffet, he also founded his own real estate attorney firm, his own investment firm and was once the Chairman of Wesco Financial Corporation.
2. Bill Gates and Paul Allen – Combined Net Worth: $97.7 billion
According to the Bloomberg’s Billionaires List, since May 2013, Bill Gates is the richest person in the world with a net worth of $82.7 billion. Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975 and it is now the world’s most profitable software company. Gates held the position of CEO and Chief Software Architect since the inception of the company but in February of this year he stepped down as chairman and transitioned to a part-time technology advisor position. Paul Allen held a position on the Board of Director’s at Microsoft, but resigned in 2000. He still owns an approximate 138 million shares in the company and has a net worth of $15 billion. Microsoft is best known for its partnership with IBM and its Microsoft Windows operating system, Microsoft Office, and the Internet Explorer web browser. When Microsoft went public in March 1986, Bill Gates, then just 30 years old, made a whopping $350 million on the first day.
1. The Koch Brothers – Combined Net Worth: $102.4 billion
Koch Industries is an American multinational corporation involved in manufacturing, investment and trading. They employ more than 100 000 people worldwide and are involved in 12 different industries, such as commodities trading and the manufacturing and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fertilizers and minerals. It is the second largest private company and has annual sales of $115 billion, according to Forbes.
The company was founded by Fred C. Koch in 1940, and two of his sons, Charles and David, are now principal owners of the company after they bought out their two other brothers in 1983. While older brother Charles is the chairman of the board and CEO of the company and David is the executive vice president, they both own an equal 42% and have the same net worth of $51.2 billion. The Koch brothers are the richest siblings in the world but they’ve lately been criticized by groups lobbying to remove money from the American political system, after several reports that they’re using a sum of their fortune to try and help friendly Republican politicians win votes.