Many would say that the first few months of 2017 have been off to a rocky start, but the richest billionaires in the world would probably beg to differ. They say that money cannot solve all of our problems, but let’s not act like money doesn’t make life a whole lot easier. Obviously, money cannot account for fixing everything, but it can fix most things, and most things count and pay off in the long run. When the current shape of the political climate gets us down, it can be endearing to buy a jet for ourselves to comfort us in dire times. When we turn on the news and see something that makes our stomachs turn, it’s a nice feeling to know we’re living in an affordable, comfortable living space paid out of our own money. When things go bump in the night in our local neighborhood, it’s wonderful to know we have the money to move away to someplace that suits our aesthetic tastes, like the moon.
Okay, yes, everything that was just written sounds morbidly capitalist and painfully absurd, but hey, the point should be loud and clear regardless: money talks and walks better than anything else in this world. The richest people in the world can attest to that notion. In fact, if we take a moment to look at the 15 richest people in the world right now, we would understand just how well off they really are. Better yet, let’s focus less on the fact that these people are living well and talk about the smart business moves that not only got them to where they are now but have also kept them where they’ve been for as long as they’ve been — among the richest people in the world.
15. Michael Bloomberg – From Wall Street To The Mayor’s Office
With a career spanning since the early 70s, Michael Bloomberg has managed to take both the business world and the thrilling world of politics by storm. It all started when he became a general partner at Salomon Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank, in 1973. After getting laid off, Bloomberg was owed $10 million and used the money to set up his own Innovative Market Systems company. In the 80s, the company was renamed Bloomberg, L.P. and was able to branch out into several different agencies like Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Tradebook. All of these business endeavors helped Bloomberg earn $47.5 billion. Much of the money that Bloomberg has used has been dedicated to his political campaign. After stepping down as CEO of his company, he won the office for mayor of New York City. After his term ended at the tail-end of 2013, he returned to Bloomberg, L.P. as CEO, and business has continued to rise to new heights ever since.
14. Mark Zuckerberg – The Social Network Wizard
Just like how you don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t get to $56 billion in earnings without a few financial setbacks. The countless lawsuits that Zuckerberg has faced regarding the legality and overall ownership of Facebook have kept the site’s founder from reaching his full potential as a billionaire, but with how much he still has in the bank now, we can’t say he’s doing too bad at all. It’s really ridiculous to think he should probably be richer than he is now. In less than 15 years, Facebook has sprouted into a multi-billion dollar corporation, raking in about $64.961 billion as far as total assets are concerned as of 2016. In fact, its net income ($10.217 billion, as of 2016) and other subsidiary statistics continue to rise by the day with no signs of slowing down. Zuckerberg has not only crafted a hugely successful business endeavor, but he has helped revolutionize and evolve the way that we communicate across the world.
13. Charles & David Koch – Political Influencers
David and Charles Koch are the founders of Koch Industries, respectively holding positions as Executive Vice President and Chairman. Koch Industries specializes in trading, manufacturing, and investments. Since those three things happen to be the world’s bread and butter, it’s no surprise that these two are tied for 8th place on the list of richest billionaires. Both men own 42% of Koch Industries and have used their earnings to make a few valuable political and personal investments. The two are worth $48.3 billion each.
12. Jim Walton – Walmart Fortune
In 1962, Walmart was founded by Sam Walton. 54 years later, Walmart remains the world’s largest retailer and Sam’s youngest son, Jim, profits immensely from his father’s foundations. Jim Walton’s net worth stems from a solid $34 billion, which he has cultivated by founding a business career of his own. He currently sits on Walmart’s Strategic Planning and Finance committees as part of the Board of Directors. When he isn’t busy with the family business, Walton is dealing with his own business as CEO of Arvest Bank and Chairman of Community Publishers. All of his separate business endeavors help establish Jim Walton as someone who doesn’t need his father’s money or name to get ahead in life. He can make a quick buck on his own merits and his own business but of course will continue to work in his family business, Walmart, out of respect for what his father built from the ground up.
11. S. Robson Walton – Walmart Heir
Another child to the Walmart heir, S. Robson Walton is the eldest son of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart. S. Robson Walton is best known for his work within the Walton family business. From 1992 until quite recently, 2015, S. Robson Walton served as the Chairman of Walmart, a position that he took up just two days after his father’s death. He worked solely for Walmart in that entire timeframe, which makes sense giving how demanding the work of Chairman can be, especially when it comes to being a Chairman of a company started by one’s father. Committing to the daunting task of living up to the family name, Walton worked solely with operations concerning Walmart and its Board of Directors for 23 years. After decades of long, hard work, it seems that now he can finally rest as a retired man. Still, in retirement, S. Robson Walton lives rich with $34.1 billion to his name.
10. Liliane Bettencourt – L’Oreal Heiress
Despite being the only woman in the top 15 list of the world’s richest billionaires, the name Liliane Bettencourt is not a name that should be taken lightly. In fact, Bettencourt is a highly underrated name in the marketing world considering everything she’s had to endure as the 13th richest person in the world. Bettencourt was born heiress of L’Oréal since her dad founded the company. She grew up to become one of the principal shareholders of the company. One would think that with such a privileged lifestyle, Bettencourt should have it made in the shade, but she has encountered some setbacks thanks to a flurry of controversies and criticisms over the years. More specifically, she has fallen under media scrutiny over her relationship with François-Marie Banier, her estrangement from her daughter, and not paying her taxes. At one point in 2007, she was even given a Black Planet Award by the Ethicon Foundation for “destroying the planet.” Despite all of the disparagement that she’s faced from the public, Bettencourt remains the richest woman in the world with a net worth of $39.5 billion.
9. Sergey Brin – Cofounder Of Google
Anyone who’s thankful for the convenience of the Google search engine can thank Sergey Brin for bringing it into the world. While studying at Stanford University and working on his Ph.D., he met a man named Larry Page at the school. Not only did the two quickly become friends, but the two also quickly became aware of each other’s tech skills. Recognizing Brin’s data mining skills as well as Page’s HTML programming skills, the two developed a PageRank algorithm with the understanding that it could be used to create a search engine that was far superior to existing search engines. With this in mind, they both suspended their Ph.D. studies to focus on what would later be known as Google. The two ran it out of their garage, and after eventually making the site public, Google became a global phenomenon. That phenomenon has earned $39.8 billion on Brin’s behalf.
8. Larry Page – CEO Of Alphabet
As the co-founder of Google alongside Sergey Brin, Larry Page made just as much of a profit on Google as Brin did. In fact, Page’s net worth is a little bit more than Brin’s at $40.7 billion. Page is currently the CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., which caters to the finest industries involved in technology, research, investments, and science. Page also earns income by investing in manufacturers like Tesla, Inc. Numerous investments like this have allowed Page to remain one of the major superpowers in the business and tech industries, not only as a visionary but also as a smart businessman who makes money decisions that have been wise enough to help him keep his spot as the 11th richest man in the world.
7. Bernard Arnault – Ever Heard Of Louis Vuitton?
Some readers may not be familiar with the name Bernard Arnault, but we all have certainly run into his products a few times over the years. He happens to be the CEO and Chairman of LVMH, which is short for Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy. That’s right; that would make Arnault the owner of Hennessy cognac and Louis Vuitton fashion. Hennessy and Louis Vuitton are arguably the two biggest products in the luxury goods and manufacturing world, and for Arnault to own the company which produces both of them is a big deal. Arnault also happens to be the Chairman of Christian Dior, one of the biggest fashion/jewelry retail store chains in the world. Investing in these companies has made Arnault the richest man in France as well as the 10th richest person in the entire world with an estimated $41.5 billion net worth.
6. Larry Ellison – Oracle Corporation
To the average person, the name Larry Ellison may not ring too many bells, but he has proven to be a vital presence in the tech world for decades now. In 1977, Ellison founded the Oracle Corporation. In just a matter of years, the Oracle Corporation evolved into one of the largest software companies in the world, second only to Microsoft. With $52.2 billion to his name, Ellison has allowed himself to strike a healthy balance between living a lavish lifestyle and putting his money in the right place. The philanthropist has shown extracurricular interests in yachting, aviation, tennis, and even politics. When he isn’t getting his feet (or his money) wet in those activities, he is a giver to charities and important causes. Ellison has donated 1% of his earnings and has signed The Giving Pledge, which encourages rich people like Ellison to contribute their money to more philanthropic purposes.
5. Carlos Slim Helu – Global Investor
From 2010 until 2013, Carlos Slim Helu was the richest person in the world. Since then, his ranking has been knocked down by a few pegs, but that doesn’t undermine the numerous successes that he’s had over the years. Dating all the way back to the 60s, he made $400,000 off of private investments, and by 1966, he was worth $40 million. His investments grew large enough that he was able to found Inmobiliaria Carso and Grupo Carso. Much of his early investments focused on construction, auto parts, paper, mining, printing, tobacco, bottling, and soft drinks, among several other things. In the coming years, Helu would become the CEO for companies like Samsung Mexico, Telmex, and America Movil. He’s made plenty of wise investments over the years, and they all paid off well for Helu. With a net worth of $54.5 billion, Helu has more than earned his spot in the Billion Dollar Club.
4. Amancio Ortega – The Next Time You Enter A Zara Store…
Although Amancio Ortega is “only” the fourth richest man in the world, Ortega happens to be the richest man in Europe with $71.3 billion in the bank. In his mid-30s in 1972, Ortega founded his first big business that he called Confecciones Goa, which is where he used prior knowledge on how to make clothes in order to sell quilted bathrobes with the help of thousands of local women sewing for him. A few years later, he opened a retail clothing store called Zara with his wife. Zara is part of the group Inditex, in which Ortega himself owns 59.29% in stock. While he retired from Inditex in 2011, Ortega’s wise investments have helped him remain one of the richest men in the world.
3. Jeff Bezos – Lord Amazon
Everyone uses Amazon, but it isn’t often that we sit back and acknowledge the brilliant innovation crafted by its creator, Jeff Bezos. In 1994, Bezos took a gamble by founding an internet-based service at a time when the internet still felt new and frankly alien to the majority of the public. In due time, that gamble paid off extremely well in Bezos’s favor. What started off as a book merchant slowly started to expand by selling a multitude of various products, like DVDs, software, music, production tech, audiobooks, etc. This simple retailer slowly became a worldwide phenomenon. With the latest introduction of their streaming service, Amazon Prime, Amazon seems to have taken over markets across the world. In 2015, the company even managed to knock down Wal-Mart and take their spot as the most valuable retailer in the United States. This victory helped Bezos garner a whopping $72.8 billion.
2. Warren Buffett – The King Of Investments
Warren Buffett‘s road to success was a steady but ideal climb to the top. It all began with a 3-year stint as an investment salesman for Buffett-Falk & Co. which began in 1951. Following that, Buffett spent 2 years at Graham-Newman Corp as a securities analyst. From there, Buffett moved on to bigger and better things with Buffett Partnerships, Ltd. as a general partner, a position that he would stick with for roughly 13 years. Buffett’s reputation and status would continue to grow until it reached new and unfathomable heights in 1970. It was then when he started working with Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Since 1970, Buffett has held positions within the company as CEO, President, and Chairman of Berkshire. Buffett has managed to lead Berkshire to become the 4th largest public company in the world and 9th largest conglomerate by revenue. All of the success that Buffett has racked up over the last few decades has earned him a hefty $75.6 billion.
1. Bill Gates – The College Dropout
It is absolutely no surprise to see Bill Gates take the top spot as the richest man in the world, though it certainly was not an easy accomplishment for Gates to achieve. From his initial failures in 1974 with his flop business, Traf-O-Data, to his humble successes as the CEO and founder of Microsoft, it took Gates decades before he could reach the pinnacles of the business world. Granted, the methods that Gates has used to conduct business have often been deemed questionable by some and have been criticized by others, but Gates must be doing something right if he’s currently worth $86 billion as of now. For the past 42 years, Microsoft has made billions of dollars with Gates as the company’s chairman, CEO, and chief software architect, and all of Gates’s work has paid off in exponential dividends. Though he no longer takes part in the day-to-day work of the company, he has separate side projects with several investments and business ventures, like bgC3 and ResearchGate. All of these have helped Gates achieve monumental success in business.