It’s said that 1% of the world’s population controls more than half of the world’s wealth, but even among the elites, there are still the best of the best.
Let’s take a look at the 10 richest people in the world, according to Forbes — and it might not be who you think.
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#14. Carlos Slim Helu
Telecommunications is a hot market for profit if you know how to work it. Carlos Slim Helu knew that when he started working to purchase and privatize a government-owned telecommunications company in 1990.
Since then, smart diversification decisions led him to gain the status of Richest Man in the World in 2010, and he is the first in history ever to gain that title from a developing nation.
Helu is of Lebanese descent but grew up in Mexico. You may not have heard of him because he prefers to fly under the radar and live frugally. However, he’s still a man of influence and has practiced what he preaches since his first business ventures at 12.
- Net Worth: $67.4 billion
- Industry: Telecom
- Age: 80
- Country: Mexico
Fun Fact: Helu is highly technophobic. While he enjoys discussing technology, he prefers pencil and paper to a computer.
#13. Amancio Ortega
- Net Worth: $80.2 billion
- Industry: Fashion (Zara)
- Age: 85
- Country: Spain
Amancio Ortega Gaona is the second international name on this list, and he came to prominence in Spain as the power behind the Inditex fashion group. (Noticing a pattern? Apparently, fashion is a lucrative industry.) Even if he’s not the wealthiest man in the world, Ortega is rated as the wealthiest retailer in the world. However, that doesn’t stop him from being humble.
Not only does he share tables on the factory floor with his workers, but he donated €320 million for cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment.
Amancio built his empire not from scratch but actually quite below zero. In an old interview conducted for a Spanish newspaper, he recounts how he was rejected along with his mother by the store owner when he was a child because the store owner was tired of selling them on debt.
The founder of Zara did not study at the university and was forced to drop out of school at the age of 14. He did not belong to an elite class that would have allowed him to get favors.
The only thing that stimulated him over the years and in his entrepreneurial career was his desire for revenge. That desire belongs to all those entrepreneurs—those entrepreneurs who put all their energy into their own business or company.
Born in 1936 in Leon, a small Spanish village that today has around 120 inhabitants, he gradually set up his first clothes production workshop and then, in 1975, to be more precise, the first Zara store.
In addition to Zara, Inditex, the Ortega holding company, controls the Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Oysho, Pull & Bear, Uterque brands, with a worldwide distribution network of 7490 stores and 174,386 employees.
Amancio Ortega prefers a simple life and stays out of the spotlight.
Fun Fact: His first business, Confecciones Goa, sold quilted bathrobes. The name is his initials in reverse.
10. Mukesh Ambani
- Net Worth: $84.5 billion
- Industry: Diversified
- Age: 64
- Country: India
Reliance Industries was originally founded as a small textile manufacturer by Dhirubhai Ambani in 1966.89 In 1979, Dhirubhai’s son Mukesh moved to Palo Alto, California to attend Stanford Business School.
In 2002, Dhirubhai suffered a stroke and passed away. The lack of a will resulted in a feud between Mukesh and his brother Anil over how their father’s empire would be distributed. Three years later, as the result of a settlement brokered by their mother, the siblings agreed to split the business, with Mukesh retaining control over refining, petrochemicals, oil and gas, and textile operations.
Reliance Industries has established several highly successful subsidiaries under Mukesh’s leadership, including Reliance Retail and telecommunications company Jio. He is also a member of The Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, an elected Foreign Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering, a member of the Global Advisory Council of Bank of America, and a member of the International Advisory Council of The Brookings Institution.
#9. Warren Buffet
- Net Worth: $68.5 billion
- Industry: Financial services (Berkshire Hathaway)
- Age: 90
- Country: United States
If anyone knows money, it’s Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway. Imagine how much money $175 was worth in the 1940s. Now imagine making that kind of money as a young teenager who bought his first stock for $38 at age 11, and you’re putting yourself in the shoes of a young Warren Buffet.
The investment ace wasn’t just an early bloomer; he shot out of his traces from the very start with preteen lunches with stock exchange experts and a net worth that surpassed the average adult before he was even old enough to drive.
From talented tyke to billionaire, Buffet still keeps it humble with a frugal approach. He still lives in the same 5-bedroom house he purchased for $31,500 in 1956.
Fun Fact: Buffet used to be terrified of public speaking until a Dale Carnegie course that not only helped him overcome his fear but helped him propose to his wife.
#8. Sergey Brin
- Net Worth: $64.1 billion
- Industry: Software (Google)
- Age: 47
- Country: United States
Sergey Brin is a Russian-born American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur who has almost $65 billion. Sergey earned his net worth as the co-founder of Google, known by umbrella parent company Alphabet.
Sergey Brin and Larry Page co-founded Google back in 1998, in just a small, simple garage. The duo has taken Google to the top, putting Sergey Brin a few places behind Page in this list of the richest people worldwide.
Fun Fact: Sergey Brin (°1973), Co-Founder Of Google, Moved With His Family From the Soviet Union To The US In 1979.
#7. Larry Ellison
For a palate cleanser, let’s take a look at software industry giant Larry Ellison. The man behind Oracle wasn’t exposed to computers until college. However, that didn’t stop him from taking leaps forward in technology development and software advancement.
He then created some of the essential tools on the market today. Like many entrepreneurs on this list, Ellison came from humble roots and built his business on a minimal investment. He had an idea, business smarts, and good timing in rapidly expanding markets.
Fun Fact: Ellison is a thrill-seeker who’s not afraid to risk injury for an adrenaline rush. He has been hospitalized more than once for injuries related to extreme sports.
#6. Larry Page
- Net Worth: $58.4 billion
- Industry: Software (Google)
- Age: 47
- Country: United States
Larry Page is the co-founder of Google, which was founded back in a garage in 1998.
Google, no doubt, has become the most successful search engine in the world, and the company has gone on to make various acquisitions, such as YouTube. Google’s success has made Larry Page one of the richest people in the world.
Fun Fact: Page proposed that they sell Google for $1 million soon as he and Brin had established a functional search engine. “Fortunately,” all the companies they approached, including Alta Vista, Excite, and Yahoo!, refused the offer.
#5. Bill Gates
For the longest time, Gates, as the founder of Microsoft, topped this list before he was ousted by Bezos. From a childhood writing his first computer programs on a General Electric computer, Gates became a pioneer in the technology industry, focusing on innovation, usability, and everyday practicality for productivity software and machines.
While he still uses his smarts — and his money — to investigate the next generation of technology and software intelligence, he’s also known as a major philanthropist behind many large-scale donations and foundations. While he may be the 3rd richest person in the world, he also strives to give back to those in need.
Gates would be richer than the #1 top list if he did not give $35.8 billion, and counting, to charity over his lifetime. This three-part documentary by Netflix tells Bill Gates’ life story, in-depth and unfiltered, as he pursues unique solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems.
Fun Fact: Bill Gates was arrested in New Mexico as a young man for running a red light.
#4 Mark Zuckerberg
Zuckerberg may be facing some harsh times lately. However, that doesn’t change that his name is one everyone instantly recognizes as the power behind Facebook.
He rose to fame from obscurity that The Social Network was even made to catalog and dramatize his journey. Zuckerberg also turned an idea into a global network that has facilitated several surprising tech ventures — from wi-fi balloons to artificial intelligence.
Zuckerberg has been studying how technology impacts our lives since he was very young, including creating Synapse as a teenager to analyze music habits before launching Facebook.
Fun Fact: Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colorblind. He struggles with various colors, but blue is the color that stands out to him most. That’s why it’s so key in Facebook’s brand coloring.
#3. Bernard Arnault
- Net Worth: $110.1 billion
- Industry: Fashion (LVMH)
- Age: 71
- Country: France
“LVMH” may not be something you think of when you think of luxury until you realize it stands for Louis Vitton Moet Hennessy — and the man who runs it is none other than the fourth richest in the world.
He actually began in real estate, taking over the family business to drive successful growth before leaving France for a life of condominium development in the U.S. during the early ’80s rise of French Socialism. It wasn’t until 1983 that he would return to France and begin the first ventures that would lead him into the world of fashion and luxury goods. He’s now the man behind the aggressive market dominance of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, Christine Dior, Dom Perignon, Sephora, and Fendi.
Fun Fact: Arnault once controlled a company called Peaudouce, a leading manufacturer of…disposable diapers.
#2. Elon Musk
- Net Worth: $191.1 billion
- Age: 50
- Industry: Auto (Tesla), Aeronatics
- Ownership Stake: Tesla – 20% ($125 billion), Space Exploration Technologies ($29.8 billion private assets) and The Boring Company ($101 million private assets)
- Country: United States
Elon Musk appears to be a Tony Stark of real life, writes Business Insider from electric cars, solar batteries, or space rockets. As a managing director of Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, and co-founder of OpenAI and Neuralink, Musk always seems to be at the forefront when it comes to launching the most futuristic technologies.
But his path to the title of the world’s richest man was by no means a smooth one. Elon Musk’s life has been full of ups and downs, from problems at school to the brink of bankruptcy, countless lawsuits, and government issues.
Born on June 28, 1971, in Pretoria, South Africa, problems have arisen since childhood. After his parents’ divorce, the two brothers, Elon and Kimbal, choose to live with their father. “It wasn’t a good idea at all,” Musk told Rolling Stone, as his relationship with his father was an extremely difficult one.
After graduating from high school, Musk and his mother, brother, and sister move to Canada to begin his higher education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. After two years of study, he moved to the University of Pennsylvania, obtaining his bachelor’s degree in physics and economics.
After college, he goes to California to pursue a Ph.D. from Stanford college, but quits after a few weeks to focus, along with his brother Kimbal, on launching their first company, Zip2. The company that provided transportation and traffic information to newspapers such as the New York Times and the Chicago Tribune was bought for $341 million, with Musk making $22 million. He often used to sleep at the office and wash at an accommodation offered to young people nearby.
Musk is set to launch his next company, the online banking website X.com, with 10 million of the 22 obtained from Zip2. After a year, his company unites with Confinity, Peter Thiel’s company, thus forming PayPal.
PayPal ended up being bought by eBay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, and Musk, as the main financier, earns $165 million. With 100 million of the sale of PayPal, the engineer is setting up Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX. Its target is to make space travel cheaper 10 times, simultaneously with its ultimate dream of making it possible to colonize Mars.
In 2004, Musk invested 6.5 mils. Dollars in Tesla Motors, a company originally founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, will produce exclusively electric cars. The South African took an active role in the company and helped create and launch the first car in 2006. At the launch of the Roadster, Musk is also a financier and managing director of the company.
Musk continues to come up with ideas taken out of science fiction with the emergence of Hyperloop and The Boring Company. Hyperloop is based on the idea of a super-high-speed train that will travel in a tube that should carry passengers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in about 30 minutes. The Boring Company is tasked with building underground tunnels between Major Cities of America to create uncongested areas of rapid traffic.
2020 has proven to be one of the most successful for its two companies. SpaceX completes a deal with NASA that sends astronauts into space for the first time in November aboard the company’s rockets. Tesla entered the ranks of the 500 companies in the S&P 500 index in December, which increased the value of the shares considerably. Now, the company’s capitalization is approaching $500 billion.
#1. Jeff Bezos
- Net Worth: $200.9 billion
- Industry: Retail (Amazon)
- Ownership Stake: Amazon, 11% ($178 billion), Blue Origin ($7.15 billion private assets), The Washington Post ($250 million private assets), and $13.4 billion in cash
- Age: 57
- Country: United States
Amazon is everywhere, so it’s not surprising that Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, tops this list. Amazon has a major role as the world’s leading online retailer and self-publishing platform, but it doesn’t stop there; from custom home deliveries to groceries, logistics, and even healthcare, the company is expanding in so many directions it’s a miracle Bezos can keep up with how much money he’s making or spending.
Bezos himself came from humble roots; his first job was as a McDonald’s fry cook.
Bezos recently divorced his wife MacKenzie, after which she received 4% of Amazon, which is worth billions.
Fun Fact: Jeff Bezos appeared in a cameo role as an alien in the 2016 film Star Trek Beyond.
With Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Warren Buffett totaling a net worth of almost $400 billion, it is no surprise the US is home to so many high-net-worth individuals.