For only the second year in a decade, both the number of billionaires and their total wealth shrank, proving that even the wealthiest are not immune to economic forces and weak stock markets. By our latest count there are 2,153 billionaires, 55 fewer than a year ago.
Of those, a record 994, or 46%, are poorer (relatively speaking) than they were last year. In total, the ultra-rich are worth $8.7 trillion, down $400 billion from 2018. Altogether 11% of last year’s list members, or 247 people, dropped out of the ranks, the most since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.
Asia-Pacific was hardest hit, with 60 fewer 10-figure fortunes. That dip was led by China, which has 49 fewer billionaires than a year ago. Europe, the Middle East and Africa also lost ground. The Americas, driven by a resurgent Brazil, and the U.S. are the only two regions that have more billionaires than they did a year ago. There are now a record 607 in the U.S. That includes 14 of the world’s 20 richest. Jeff Bezos is again number 1 in the world, followed by Bill Gates at number 2.
Even with strong headwinds, resourceful and relentless entrepreneurs found new ways to get rich: 195 newcomers joined the ranks. The richest newcomer is Colin Huang, the founder of Chinese discount web retailer Pinduoduo, which went public in the U.S. in July. Other notable new entrants include Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon; Juul Labs’ James Monsees and Adam Bowen, Kind Bar’s Daniel Lubetzky and cosmetics wunderkind Kylie Jenner, who is the world’s youngest billionaire at age 21. In March 2019, Forbes released Billionaires List.
(1) JEFF BEZOS
Jeff Bezos founded e-commerce colossus Amazon in 1994 out of his garage in Seattle. He remains CEO and owns a 16 percent stake.
In January, he and his wife, MacKenzie, announced they will divorce after 25 years of marriage. Terms of the split have not been disclosed.
MacKenzie was Amazon’s first accountant. Per Washington state law, she could get up to half of Jeff’s assets, making her the richest woman on earth.
In 2018, Amazon pulled in $230 billion in revenues and a record $10 billion in net profit, up from $3 billion the prior year.
In February, Amazon announced it was canceling plans for a second headquarters in Long Island City, New York after local lawmakers opposed the plan.
Bezos owns The Washington Post and Blue Origin, an aerospace company that is developing a rocket for commercial use.
His real time net time worth is $137.8 billion while the net worth for 2019 Billionaires is $131 billion.
(2) BILL GATES
With his wife Melinda, Bill Gates chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation.
The foundation works to save lives and improve global health, and is working with Rotary International to eliminate polio.
Gates has sold or given away much of his stake in Microsoft — he owns just over 1 percent of shares –and invested in a mix of stocks and other assets.
He remains a board member of Microsoft, the software firm he founded with Paul Allen in 1975.
In late 2016, Gates announced the launch of a $1 billion Breakthrough Energy investment fund with about 20 other people.
To date, Gates has donated $35.8 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the Gates Foundation.
His real time net worth is $97.7 billion and $96.5 billion net worth for 2019 Billionaires.
(3) WARREN BUFFET
Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time.
Buffett runs Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies, including insurer Geico, battery maker Duracell and restaurant chain Dairy Queen.
The son of a U.S. congressman, he first bought stock at age 11 and first filed taxes at age 13.
He’s promised to give away over 99 percent of his fortune. In 2018 he donated $3.4 billion much of it to the foundation of friends Bill and Melinda Gates.
In 2010, he and Gates launched the Giving Pledge, asking billionaires to commit to donating half their wealth to charitable causes.
His real time net worth is $82.8 billion and $82.5 billion is his net worth in the 2019 Billionaires.
(4) BERNARD ARNAULT
One of the world’s ultimate taste-makers, Bernard Arnault oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora.
His luxury goods group, LVMH, posted record sales and profits in 2018, thanks in part to increase spending by Chinese customers.
The arts patron is the visionary behind the $135 million Frank Gehry-designed Foundation Louis Vuitton museum near Paris, opened in 2014.
His daughter Delphine is executive vice president of Louis Vuitton, and a member of LVMH’s executive committee.
His father made a small fortune in construction; Arnault put up $15 million from that business to buy Christian Dior in 1985.
His real time net worth stands at $82.1 billion while $76 billion is the net worth in the 2019 Billionaires.
(5) CARLOS SLIM HELU
Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim Helu and his family control America Movil, Latin America’s biggest mobile telecom firm.
With foreign telecom partners, Slim bought a stake in Telmex, Mexico’s only phone company, in 1990. Telmex is now part of America Movil.
He also owns stakes in Mexican construction, consumer goods, mining and real estate companies and 17 percent of The New York Times.
His son-in-law Fernando Romero designed the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, home to Slim’s extensive, eclectic art collection.
His real time net worth is $59.9 billion while his net worth is $64 billion in the 2019 Billionaires club.
(6) AMANCIO ORTEGA
Amancio Ortega is one of the richest men in Europe and the wealthiest retailer in the world.
A pioneer in fast fashion, he co-founded Inditex, known for its Zara fashion chain, with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera (d. 2013) in 1975.
He owns about 60 per cent of Madrid-listed Inditex, which has 8 brands, including Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, and 7,500 stores around the world.
Ortega typically earns more than $400 million in dividends a year.
He has invested his dividends primarily into real estate in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Chicago, Miami and New York.
His real time net worth is $68.4 billion while his net worth is $62.7 billion in 2019 Billionaires rating.
(7) LARRY ELLISON
Larry Ellison cofounded software firm Oracle in 1977 to tap into the growing need for customer relationship management databases.
He gave up the Oracle CEO role in 2014 but still serves as chairman of the board and chief technology officer.
As part of Oracle’s push into cloud computing, it acquired cloud-software firm Netsuite for $9.3 billion in 2016.
In May 2016, Ellison pledged $200 million to the University of Southern California for a cancer treatment center.
In March 2018, Ellison launched a wellness startup called Sensei, whose first project is hydroponic farming on the Hawaiian island Lanai.
Ellison joined Tesla’s board in December 2018, after purchasing 3 million Tesla shares earlier that year.
His real time net worth is $63.7 billion as of March 6, 2019 and the net worth is $62.5 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(8) MARK ZUCKERBERG
After facing another year of criticism for fake news and abuse on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his priority in 2019 is tackling social issues.
In April 2018, he testified before Congress after it was revealed that Facebook shared users’ data with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Zuckerberg started Facebook at Harvard in 2004 at the age of 19 for students to match names with faces in class.
He took Facebook public in May 2012 and still owns nearly 17 percent of the stock.
In December 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes.
His real time net worth is $64.2 billion as of March 3, 2019 while the net worth is $62.3 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(9) MICHAEL BLOOMERG
Michael Bloomberg cofounded financial information and media company Bloomberg LP in 1981.
He put in the seed funding for the company and now owns 88 percent of the business, which has revenues north of $9 billion.
Bloomberg got his start on Wall Street in 1966 with an entry level job at investment bank Salomon Brothers. He was fired 15 years later.
An active philanthropist, he has donated more than $5 billion to gun control, climate change and other causes.
He plans to spend at least $500 million to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.
Bloomerg’s real time net worth stands at $55.4 billion and the net worth is $55.5 billion in
(10) LARRY PAGE
Larry Page sits at the helm of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, healthcare division Calico, smart home appliance division Nest and more.
He cofounded Google in 1998 with fellow Stanford Ph.D. student Sergey Brin.
With Brin, Page invented Google’s PageRank algorithm, which powers the search engine.
Page was Google’s first CEO until 2001. After serving as president of products, he took the CEO job again in 2011.
The real time net worth of Page is $53.4 billion and the net worth is $50.8 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(11) CHARLES KOCH
Charles Koch has been chairman and CEO of Koch Industries, America’s second largest private company by revenue since 1967.
The diversified company has some $110 billion in revenues from businesses including pipelines, chemicals, Dixie cups, and Stainmaster carpet.
His father, Fred Koch, improved a method of refining heavy oil into gasoline in 1927 and started the family business in 1940.
The Kansas native owns a 42 percent stake in the firm, as does his brother, David; they bought their two other brothers’ shares in 1983.
His son Chase heads the company’s venture capital arm, which has invested in hybrid cloud firm Mesosphere and 3D metal printing startup Desktop Metal.
His real time net worth is $51 billion while $50.5 billion is the net worth for 2019 Billionaires.
(12) DAVID KOCH
David Koch shares majority control of Koch Industries, the second largest private U.S. firm in terms of revenue with his brother Charles.
Koch stepped down from his role as executive vice president in July 2018, citing health concerns; he was named director emeritus.
Koch Industries, which has revenues of $110 billion, refines crude oil, produces fertilizer and makes Dixie cups and Quilted Northern toilet paper.
A well-known philanthropist, David is a donor to New York’s Lincoln Center and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
David Koch ran as the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1980 on a ticket with Ed Clark; they won 1 percent of the vote.
Koch’s real time net worth is $51 billion while $50.5 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(13) MUKESH AMBANI
Mukesh Ambani chairs and runs $60 billion (revenue) oil and gas giant Reliance Industries, among India’s most valuable companies.
Reliance was founded by his late father Dhirubhai Ambani, a yarn trader, in 1966 as a small textile manufacturer.
After his father’s death in 2002, Ambani and his younger sibling Anil divvied up the family empire.
In 2016, Reliance sparked a price war in India’s hyper-competitive telecom market with the launch of 4G phone service Jio.
Jio has signed on 280 million customers by offering free domestic voice calls, dirt-cheap data services and virtually free smartphones.
His real time net worth is $50.1 billion while the net worth is $50 billion in the 2019 Billionaires club.
(14) SERGEY BRIN
Sergey Brin works as president of tech giant Alphabet, the parent firm of Google.
He previously ran the secretive Google X division, which made the ill-fated Google glasses.
Brin cofounded search engine firm Google with Larry Page in 1998.
Brin and Page met at Stanford University while studying for advanced degrees in computer science.
Google went public in 2004 and changed its name to Alphabet in 2015.
Brin’s real time net worth is $52.2 billion while the net worth is $49.8 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(15) FRANCOISE BETTENCOURT
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers is the richest woman in the world and the granddaughter of L’Oreal’s founder.
Bettencourt Meyers and her family own 33 percent of L’Oreal stock, which recorded its best sales growth in more than a decade in 2018.
She has served on L’Oreal’s board since 1997 and is chairwoman of the family holding company.
She became France’s reigning L’Oreal Heiress in 2017 when her mother Liliane Bettencourt, then the world’s richest woman, died at age 94.
Bettencourt Meyers serves as the president of her family’s philanthropic foundation, which encourages French progress in the sciences and arts.
His real time net worth stands at $50.3 billion and the net worth is $49.3 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(16) JIM WALTON
Jim Walton is the youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
He runs the family’s Arvest Bank, which boasts assets of more than $16 billion.
He sat on Walmart’s board for more than a decade before yielding the seat to his son, Steuart, in June 2016.
Collectively Jim and other heirs of Sam Walton own about half of Walmart’s stock.
In January 2018, following the passage of the Congressional tax reform bill, Walmart announced that it would increase its minimum wage to $11 an hour.
His real time net worth is $45.7 billion while the net worth is $44.6 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(17) ALICE WALTON
Alice Walton is the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
She has focused on curating art, rather than working for Walmart like her siblings, Rob and Jim.
In 2011 she opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in her hometown, Bentonville, Arkansas.
Crystal Bridges features works from the likes of Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell and Mark Rothko.
Her personal art collection is valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
His real time net worth is $45.4 billion while $44.4 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(18) ROB WALTON
Rob Walton is the eldest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton.
He ran the retailer for nearly 25 years; he first took over as chairman upon his father’s death in 1992.
He retired as chairman in June 2015 and was replaced by his son-in-law, Greg Penner. He still sits on Walmart’s board.
In January 2018, following the passage of the Congressional tax reform bill, Walmart announced that it would increase its minimum wage to $11 an hour.
He and other heirs of Sam Walton collectively own about half of Walmart’s stock.
His real time net worth is $45.4 billion while his net worth is $44.3 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(19) STEVE BALLMER
Steve Ballmer is the high-wattage former CEO of Microsoft, who led the company from 2000 to 2014.
He joined Microsoft in 1980 as employee No. 30 after dropping out of Stanford’s MBA program.
Ballmer oversaw Microsoft at a difficult time-after the first dot.com crash and through efforts to catch Google in search and Apple in mobile phones.
The same year he retired from Microsoft he bought the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion.
He has ramped up his philanthropy since 2014, putting over $2 billion into a donor-advised fund, with a focus on lifting Americans out of poverty.
His real time net worth is $43 billion while $41.2 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.
(20) MA HUATENG
Ma Huateng (also known as Pony Ma) chairs Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, which ranks among the nation’s largest businesses by market cap.
Tencent’s popular social messaging app WeChat has more than 1 billion users.
The group listed its music-streaming subsidiary, Tencent Music, on the New York Stock Exchange in December 2018.
In contrast to his outgoing rival at Alibaba, Ma has a low-profile style that befits his engineering background.
Ma co-founded Tencent in 1998.
Huatang’s real time net worth is $40.5 billion and the net worth is $38.8 billion in the 2019 Billionaires.