While there seems to be a fascination over the life and times of the celebrities throughout the world, it’s interesting to see how little their actual fortunes are compared to the individuals that have founded their own companies or have taken a role in some of the leading industries of the world. Celebrities often make headlines for all of their over-the-top expenditures and time in the limelight so it’s easy to overlook the people that are actually signing their checks. This is just one way to look at how there are a variety of individuals that are operating behind-the-scenes and accumulating a huge amount of money.
From people that have founded their own companies to computer scientists and programmers that have revolutionized the world, the stories behind the people that have made their fortunes are extremely exciting. From being the only woman on the list to being one of the youngest billionaires in the world, these stories are just further evidence that anyone can build a vast fortune with the right skills and circumstance. Check out our list of the 15 richest billionaires in the world in 2017 and see how the one percent have been able to build their fortunes.
15. Rob Walton – $34.1 Billion
Samuel “Rob” Walton is an American businessman that is the eldest son of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart. While there are other chain stores that have come and gone over the years, Walmart has evolved to become the world’s largest retailer. Although there have been some controversies surrounding the Walmart company, the success of this chain is undeniable. There are Walmarts throughout the world and Walton ran the retailer for 23 years after the death of his father. Sam Walton died in 1992 and Rob Walton took over as the chairman before retiring in 2015. His place as chairman of Walmart was taken over by his son-in-law, Greg Penner. As of 2017, Samuel “Rob” Walton had an estimated net worth of $34.1 billion.
14. Liliane Bettencourt – $39.5 Billion
Although there are a number of female billionaires throughout the world, Liliane Bettencourt has the prestigious title of being the only female billionaire on our list 15 richest billionaires. Bettencourt is a French heiress and socialite that has proven to be an amazing businesswoman. She is a major shareholder of the famed L’Oréal brand. As the founder of the brand, her claim to fame has been to evolve the L’Oréal brand to become one of the largest cosmetics and beauty companies in the world. Her estimated net worth for 2017 is around $39.5 billion, which makes her the richest woman in all of the world. While there are other cosmetics brands that have been able to evolve over the years, none have come close to the L’Oréal brand.
13. Sergey Brin – $39.8 Billion
Sergey Brin is a computer scientist that is the other half of the brainchild that created Google. Along with Larry Page, Brin has helped to create and evolve the Google company and became the President of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Brin went to the prestigious Stanford University to obtain his PhD in computer science and it is there that he met his future business partner, Larry Page. In 2007 he married Anne Wojcicki, the co-founder, and CEO of 23andMe but the two ultimately divorced in 2015. Brin is best known for running the Google X division that many blamed for the bumbled Google glasses product that is seen as one of the failures of the Google endeavors. In 2017, Brin is stated to have an estimated net worth of $39.8 billion.
12. Larry Page – $41.5 Billion
Not many people are as familiar with Larry Page as they are with other names on the Forbes’ billionaire’s list like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. Yet, when it’s revealed that Page is the CEO of Alphabet, that is bound to perk a few interests. Before you go thinking that there is actually someone out there that owns the alphabet, keep in mind that Page is actually one of the co-founders of Google. Google’s parent company is called Alphabet, which Larry Page serves as its CEO. Like so many other billionaires, Page doesn’t only seem to focus on the computer science industry to continue to build his fortune. He reportedly invested in the Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk startups to try and bring forth the flying car and has an estimated net worth of $41.5 billion in 2017.
11. Bernard Arnault – $46.1 Billion
The multinational conglomerate, LVMH, was created when the world-renowned fashion house, Louis Vuitton, merged with the champagne and liquor brands, Moët & Chandon and Hennessy. The Chairman and CEO of LVMH is Bernard Arnault and it has earned him the prestigious title of being attached to the world’s largest luxury goods company. Obviously, Arnault is familiar with all of the luxury goods in the world in order to maintain this brand as the pinochle of sophistication. Known as a French business magnate, Arnault has also been able to increase his fortune through wise investments and a propensity towards collecting expensive pieces of art. So far, Arnault has an estimated net worth of $46.1 billion for 2017 but is projected to increase by the end of the year.
10. Michael Bloomberg – $47.5 Billion
Bloomberg L.P. is a billion dollar company that deals with financial, data and media software. It features a revenue-generating product that encompasses everything from analytics to platform services. The founder, Michael “Mike” Bloomberg is also the CEO and owner of Bloomberg L.P. with a number of other hats he wears as a businessman. In 2017, Bloomberg boasted a net worth of around $47.5 billion and is ranked as one of the richest people in the world. He is also an author and philanthropist but is most notable for dabbling into the world of politics. Bloomberg Politics has become a go-to outlet for global political coverage and breakdown analysis of all things political. In collaboration with other political commentators, Bloomberg Politics has become a place to receive political analysis as well as breaking news information.
9. David Koch – $48.38 Billion
Koch Industries, Inc. started off as Wood River Oil and Refining Company in 1940 but has evolved to become a multinational corporation. Koch owns a number of other companies that are involved in manufacturing and distribution of petroleum, chemicals and a number of other products that have helped to raise the company’s prestige. David Koch is a chemical engineer that became the president of Koch Engineering in 1979. He is a co-owner of Koch Industries, Inc. along with his brother, Charles. David has become a huge figure in the media over the years due to his very publicized opinions in the political world. His conservative policy clashed very publicly with Donald Trump’s agenda during the 2016 presidential race. His net worth for 2017 was estimated at around $48.38 billion.
8. Charles Koch – $48.38 Billion
Although his brother, Dave, tends to get the bulk of the publicity due to his strongly voiced political views, Charles Koch is also the co-owner of Koch Industries, Inc. and is also the Executive Vice President. Both he and his brother are thought of as philanthropists and Charles has gone out of his way to support free market-oriented educational organizations. His wife, Elizabeth Koch, founded the Cato Institute and has helped to fund artists and local projects within the Washington, DC area. In 2017, Charles Koch had an estimated net worth of around $48.38 billion. Both of the Koch brothers have been highly criticized for their longtime libertarian beliefs involving minimal social services for the needy, regardless of how many of their philanthropic efforts have made it onto the headlines.
7. Larry Ellison – $52.28 Billion
Larry Ellison’s first attempt at building a software company was back in 1977 when he co-founded, Software Development Laboratories. This led to a contract with the CIA to build a database, which was called the “Oracle” project. The company later became the Oracle Systems Corporation and was able to bounce back after a number of financial difficulties. Ellison has never fit the typical stereotype of someone in the computer science industry and is known for participating in extreme sports as an adrenaline junkie. Ellison has also been known to indulge a bit in his personal spending, luxuriating with yachts and expensive mansions. Yet, he has the funds to do so with an estimated net worth of around $52.28 billion as of 2017. Ellison has been able to evolve the Oracle company over the years and is now best known for the integrated stack of cloud applications and services.
6. Carlos Slim Helú – $54.58 Billion
In 1990, the merger of Corporación Industrial Carso and Grupo Inbursa resulted in the creation of the global conglomerate, Grupo Carso. The company is owned by Carlos Slim Helú and for three straight years in a row, he was rated as the richest person in the world. The conglomerate organization has a hand in a variety of different industry, including healthcare and financial services. The most recognizable acquisition in Grupo Carso’s history was when the telecom industry was privatized and Telmex no longer was controlled by the Mexican government. Just as so many other billionaires have sought to have political influence, Carlos Slim Helú maintained his business adventures and gained some strong political connection. As of 2017, Carlos Slim Helú had a net worth of around $54.58 billion.
5. Mark Zuckerberg – $58.6 Billion
Anyone that’s seen the 2010 film, The Social Network, should recognize the name, Mark Zuckerberg. He and a group of friends and fellow Harvard students first launched their social media site back when he was still living in the dormitory at Harvard University. He is a computer programmer and an Internet entrepreneur that is the cofounder of Facebook. He is one of the world’s youngest billionaires after he took his company, Facebook, public. While the interest over the idea of Facebook was always a huge part of his storyline, the other big side to his persona involves the love story between him and his longtime girlfriend, Priscilla Chan. The two were married in 2012 when Zuckerberg was 28-years-old. He will be turning 32-years-old on May 14 and has recently become a first-time father to their daughter, Maxima Chan Zuckerberg.
4. Amancio Ortega – $71.3 Billion
While there are other billionaires that have acquired their fortune through family members, Amancio Ortega is a true rags to riches story in comparison. While working for a local shirt maker in Spain in the 1960s, Ortega began having dreams of creating his own designs. He later married Rosalia Mera and the two developed their own designs and made them within their own home. From selling clothes out of their home to the creation of the first Zara store, it’s actually pretty amazing that Amancio Ortega has been able to build up his net worth to the tune of around $71.3 billion. He is the founder of Inditex fashion group, which includes the Zara clothing line and stores, as well as a number of other brands and chains.
3. Jeff Bezos – $72.8 Billion
Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon.com, starting off his business with the idea of selling books online and having the company grow exponentially through the years. Nowadays, Amazon sells anything and everything online but it’s the cloud-computing unit and web services feature that truly caused a bump in the retailer’s stock. In 2015, the Amazon company reached a stellar amount in annual sales at $100 billion. As of 2017, Bezos had an estimated net worth of $72.8 billion. Besides Amazon, Bezos has an aerospace company called, Blue Origin. The ultimate goal of Blue Origin is to develop and produce a rocket that will allow for casual space travel. He also made headlines in 2013 when he ultimately purchased The Washington Post for $250 million.
2. Warren Buffett – $75.6 Billion
Warren Buffett is considered one of the world’s most well-known and successful investors and has a rich educational background in economics and business. His very first endeavor into the world of business was the creation of the Buffett Partnership, which went on to accumulate the Berkshire Hathaway. He became chairman and largest shareholder since 1970 but lives quite a different type of lifestyle than some of the other billionaires in the world. He is known for living a life of frugality instead of wasting his wealth on lavish homes and yachts. He has also vowed to give the majority of his fortune to charitable causes. As of 2017, he is said to have a net worth of an estimated $75.6 billion and has already reportedly given over $28 billion to charities.
1. Bill Gates – $86 Billion
Bill Gates is one of the most well-known individuals around the world and has repeatedly made the Forbes list as one of the world’s wealthiest people. He is best known for cofounding Microsoft, which has become the world’s largest computer software company. While other billionaires have used their billions to try and accumulate even more power and political influence, Gates has made headlines for his philanthropic nature and putting his business skills at work to try and save the world’s problems. One of his most recent endeavors addressed the world’s clean water shortage. In 2015, Gates did his best to promote the Omniprocessor that was designed to turn human feces into drinking water. In 2017, Bill Gates had an estimated net worth of $86 billion.