The past 12 months may have been a year marked by COVID-19, the impeachment of former US president Donald Trump, Brexit – and even Megxit, but it also marked an explosion of new billionaires across the planet.
Rapid-fire public offerings, skyrocketing stock prices and surging cryptocurrencies led to the number of billionaires on Forbes’ 35th annual list of the world’s wealthiest booming to an unprecedented 2,755 - 660 more than a year ago.
But who are among the top ten world’s richest people?
1) Jeff Bezos. (net worth: $177 billion)
Jeff Bezos founded e-commerce giant Amazon in 1994 out of his garage in Seattle. He stepped down as CEO to become executive chairman on July 5, 2021. This week, the 57-year-old American billionaire made headlines flew on a voyage lasting about 10 minutes and 20 seconds to the edge of space aboard his space venture Blue Origin.
2) Elon Musk (net worth: $151 billion)
Elon Musk is working to revolutionize transportation both on Earth through electric car maker Tesla -- and in space, via rocket producer SpaceX which is now valued at $74 billion after its latest funding round in February 2021.
3) Bernard Arnault (net worth: $150 billion)
One of the world’s ultimate taste-makers, Bernard Arnault oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. In January 2021, LVMH completed a deal for American jeweler Tiffany & Co for $15.8 billion, believed to be the biggest luxury brand acquisition ever.
4) Bill Gates (net worth: $124 billion)
Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, now divorcing, chair the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment of nearly $50 billion, donates about $5 billion annually to causes around the world. Last year, it donated $1 billion to combat COVID-19 through the administering of vaccines.
5) Mark Zuckerberg (net worth: $97 billion)
Facebook, the social network Zuckerberg famously founded during university at the age of 19, has become a go-to communications tool during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. He took Facebook public in May 2012 and still owns about 15 per cent of the stock. In December 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to give away 99 per cent of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes.
6) Warren Buffett (net worth: $96 billion)
Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time. A unique figure in American business, Buffett’s plain-spoken approach to big business and his understated personal life has made him a broadly popular figure in the US even as Berkshire has amassed massive assets in the insurance and utility businesses and large equity stakes in a vast array of US companies.
7) Larry Ellison (net worth: $93 billion)
Larry Ellison is chairman, chief technology officer and cofounder of software giant Oracle, of which he owns about 35 percent. He gave up the Oracle CEO role in 2014 after 37 years at the helm.
8) Larry Page (net worth: $91.5 billion)
Larry Page cofounded Google in 1998 with fellow Stanford Ph.D. student Sergey Brin. Page stepped down as CEO of Alphabet, the parent of Google, in December 2019 but remains a board member and a controlling shareholder. Page is also a founding investor in space exploration company Planetary Resources and is also funding “flying car” startups Kitty Hawk and Opener.
9) Sergey Brin (net worth: $89 billion)
Fellow Google cofounder Sergey Brin stepped down as president of Alphabet, parent company of Google, in December 2019 but remains a controller shareholder and a board member. Brin is also reportedly funding a high-tech airship project.
10) Mukesh Ambani (net worth: $84.5 billion)
Mukesh Ambani chairs and runs $74 billion (revenue) Reliance Industries, which has interests in petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecom and retail. In 2016, Reliance sparked a price war in India’s hyper-competitive telecom market with the launch of 4G phone service Jio. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Ambani raised more than $20 billion selling a third of Jio to a string of investors, such as Facebook and Google.