Cream of the crop: World’s nine richest self-made billionaires in tech

A FORTUNE index by Bloomberg revealed one-third of the wealthiest men in the world amassed their wealth from the technology sector and share one common trait – they are all self-made billionaires.

In extracting real-time data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index last week, the South China Morning Post via (Business Insider) listed the nine technology tycoons who continue to dominate the elite list, after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos overtook Microsoft founder Bill Gates as the richest person in the world.

After four years running as the world’s wealthiest man, Gates was for the first time knocked of pole place as Amazon’s increased share price propelled Bezos to have a net worth of about US$90 billion. However, as of Jul 31, Gate’s retook the throne as Bezos’ net worth declined to US$87.2 billion.

According to Business Insider, the founders of powerful companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google generated their wealth from nothing less than hard work.

In the list below, Tech Wire Asia looks at the billionaires who made their riches in tech.

1. Bill Gates

bill gates

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Gates founded Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen at just 20 years old. Just over a decade later, Microsoft went public, making Gate a billionaire just before he turned 31. He was the CEO until 2000, the American billionaire remained the largest shareholder until 2014 and held the richest man in the world title between May 2013 and July 2017. The 61-year-old Gates is also a philanthropist who has pledged US$40 billion to eradicating poverty eradication and eliminating infectious diseases such as HIV and malaria.  His current net worth is US$90.7 billion.


2. Jeff Bezos

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Source: AP

Amazon founder Bezos, a pioneer in the e-commerce world, formed the company in the garage of his Seattle home in 1994. Starting out as an online book retailer, was publicly listed three years later to become a multi-billion dollar titan which sells a myriad of consumer products, including furniture, food, and electronics. Outside Amazon, Bezos owns The Washington Post, which he bought in 2013 and, has invested in a space company called Blue Origin.


3. Mark Zuckerberg

mark zuckerberg facebook asia pacific economic cooperation forum

Source: AP

Facebook attracts almost two billion daily users and is now worth US$480 billion. Its founder Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest of the 50 richest people in the world with a net worth of some US$73.3 billion. The 33-year-old Harvard dropout launched the rudimentary version of the popular social networking site in 2004. Like Gates, Zuckerberg has and his wife Priscilla Chan has devoted a large portion of his wealth to charity.



4. Larry Ellison

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The founder of computer technology corporation Oracle is worth a whopping US$52.9 billion. Ellison first made his name in the tech world in 1977 after teaming up with colleagues from an electronics company to form their own programming firm. It soon after worked on a project called Oracle to build a database-management system for the US’ Central Intelligence Agency. Last year, Oracle acquired US$37 billion in revenue with Ellison taking in more than US$60 million a year in stock awards despite reducing his annual salary from US$1 million to US$1 in 2010. He stepped down as CEO in 2014 and now serves as its chief technology officer.

5. Larry Page

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In 1998, Stanford PhD student Page partnered with classmate Sergey Brin to create BackRub, an early search engine that would later morph into the behemoth that is Google. Last year, Page’s personal net worth increased by US$8.05 billion while Google – now managed by holding company Alphabet – is worth a staggering US$660 billion. The 44-year-old is not known for splurging on luxuries but has an eco-friendly mansion in Palo Alto and owns a Yacht due to his love for water-based activities such as kiteboarding.


6. Sergey Brin

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At 43 years old, Brin, a Russian-born American computer scientist, Internet entrepreneur and philanthropist of Google fame is worth US$46.8 billion. Since teaming up with Larry Page in Stamford in the late ’90s, Brin applied his data mining system to build a web search engine in a crammed dormitory room with inexpensive computers. After a decade, Google has earned its name as one of the most powerful companies in the world. Two years ago, he oversaw a Google massive restructuring, putting it under Alphabet, which among others, is exploring the realities of automated homes and self-driving cars.

7. Jack Ma

Source: AP

Despite being rejected from Harvard at least 10 times and from 30 job applications, including KFC, Alibaba founder Ma is now one of the most recognisable faces in the tech world. The 52-year-old richest man in China started China Yellowpages in 1988 and ran it for eight years before it was taken over by a state-owned telco company. Three years later, Ma formed Alibaba with only US$60,000. Over a decade after formation, the company made headlines with the world’s largest ever initial public offering at US$25 billion. He is currently worth US$43.8 billion.

8. Ma Huateng (Pony Ma)

Source: Reuters

At the age of 26, Ma Huateng, also known a Pony Ma, founded Tencent Holdings, which is now China’s largest Internet portal. The online messaging service developed by Tencent, QQ, is currently known as one of the world’s 10 largest websites, while another mobile-texting service WeChat has recorded close to a billion users. Ma, who is currently worth US$31.1 billion, is China’s second-richest man.



9. Steve Ballmer

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In 1980,  Ballmer dropped out of Stanford business school to form Microsoft with Gates, focusing on the company’s business development. While working with Microsoft, he took on various roles, including president of marketing and executive vice-president of sales support, among others. After Gates stepped down in 2000, Ballmer became the CEO until he was replaced by Satya Nadella in 2014. Ballmer’s leadership led to a revenue growth of 294 percent and profits by 181 percent. Last year, the 61-year-old’s wealth increased by US$4.18 billion with his current net worth at US$4.18 billion.