In 2020, there were over 2,000 billionaires on the planet, representing a total net worth of $8 trillion. The 10 richest people in the world in 2021 possess over $1 billion, which is truly impressive when you realize that they represent less than 1% of all of the billionaires in the world. Based on Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, the following is a detailed summary of the wealthiest individuals in the world today (January 27, 2021).
1. Elon Musk
- Age: 49
- Residence: Austin, Texas
- Co-founder and CEO: Tesla
- Net Worth: $197 billion
- Tesla Ownership Stake: 20% ($141 billion)
- Other Assets: Space Exploration Technologies ($18.7 billion private asset)
As of January 27, 2020, Elon Musk is considered the richest man in the world. A serial entrepreneur, Elon Musk played an instrumental role in the creation and development of some of the most respected companies on the planet today. The success of his first company, Zip2, provided the resources to launch X.com, the online payments technology company that eventually became PayPal. While many entrepreneurs would have been content to stop there, Elon went on to invest in or found some of the most exciting businesses in the world today. SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies, aspires to make space exploration affordable by applying software development principles to the design and manufacture of rockets and related technology. In 2004, Elon invested in Tesla Motors, where he has taken a similar approach to the development of electric automobiles, energy storage devices and solar power systems. Elon is currently CEO of both Tesla and SpaceX, with a truly impressive net worth of $197 billion.
2. Jeff Bezos
- Age: 57
- Residence: Seattle, Wash.
- Founder and CEO: Amazon (AMZN)
- Net Worth: $182 billion
- Amazon Ownership Stake: 11.1% ($165 billion)
- Other Assets: Blue Origin ($7.15 billion private asset) and $9.55 billion in cash
By now, everyone on the planet is familiar with Amazon.com. While Jeff Bezos founded the company in his garage in 1994, Amazon is now considered the world’s largest retailer. Bezos took the company public in 1997 and went on to become the 2nd person in history to achieve a net worth of $100 billion. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, may have beaten him to that title, but as of last year Jeff’s personal wealth has skyrocketed. This was, in part, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the heightened demand for online shopping as lockdowns forced consumers to stay home and shop online. Not one to rest on his laurels, Jeff Bezos has a number of additional “side projects”, including an aerospace company called Blue Origin and his ownership of The Washington Post newspaper, bringing his net worth up to a mind-blowing $182 billion.
3. Bill Gates
- Age: 65
- Residence: Medina, Wash.
- Co-Founder: Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
- Net Worth: $132 billion
- Microsoft Ownership Stake: 1.3% ($22 billion)
- Other Assets: Cornerstone Building Brands equity ($11.3 billion public asset), Republic Services equity ($10.2 billion public asset), John Deere equity ($9.31 billion public asset), Ecolab equity ($6.47 billion public asset), Givaudan equity ($4.42 billion public asset), FEMSA equity ($2.11 billion public asset), Waste Management equity ($1.67 billion public asset), Berkshire Hathaway equity ($1.52 billion public asset), Diageo equity ($1.45 billion public asset), AutoNation equity ($1.37 billion public asset), Arch Capital Group equity ($1.20 billion public asset), Sika AG equity ($1.19 billion public asset), Signet Jewelers equity ($696 million public asset), Televisa equity ($260 million public asset), Vroom equity ($249 million public asset), Liberty Global equity ($216 million public asset), First Cobalt equity ($182 million public asset), Western Asset/Claymore Inflation-Linked Opportunities & Income Fund equity ($167 million public asset), Otter Tail Corporation equity ($145 million public asset), Coca-Cola FEMSA equity ($121 million public asset), Western Asset/Claymore Inflation-Linked Opportunities & Income Fund equity ($89.3 million public asset), Owens Corning equity ($38.8 million public asset), and $55.1 billion in cash
What can be written about Bill Gates that hasn’t already been written a million and one times? The story goes something like this: Back in 1975, Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen began developing software for the original IBM microcomputers. A short time later, he dropped out of Harvard and they went on to found Microsoft. Seemingly overnight, Microsoft became the largest software company in the world, due primarily to their creation of the Windows operating system, which powered almost every personal computer of the time. Today, Microsoft is a leading, diversified technology company with thriving businesses in cloud computing and computer hardware development. In 2000, Bill opted to merge his two philanthropic organizations – the William H. Gates Foundation and the Gates Learning Foundation – to create the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the foundation, Bill and Melinda have spent billions to combat communicable diseases such as polio, malaria and ebola. In 2020, the foundation invested $300 million to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite giving away a large portion of his wealth for various philanthropic endeavours, Bill Gates’ net worth is currently upwards of $132 billion.
4. Bernard Arnault
- Age: 71
- Residence: Paris, France
- CEO and Chairman: LVMH (LVMUY)
- Net Worth: $109 billion
- Christian Dior Ownership Stake: 97.5% ($92.8 billion)
- Other Assets: Moelis & Company equity ($18.9 billion public asset), Hermès equity ($2.12 billion public asset), Carrefour equity ($1.30 billion public asset), and $4.50 billion in cash.
Bernard Arnault hails from France, and he’s the chairman and CEO of the world’s largest luxury goods company, LVMH. They own some of the biggest luxury brands on the planet, including Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Sephora, Hennessey and more. While LVMH is a hugely successful company in its own right, their parent company, Christian Dior SE, controls 41.2% of LVMH and Bernard Arnault is a significant shareholder of Christian Dior SE. In 1987, he became the majority shareholder in LVMH and two short years later he became chairman of the board and CEO. As of this writing, his net worth is an impressive $109 billion.
5. Mark Zuckerberg
- Age: 36
- Residence: Palo Alto, Calif.
- Co-founder, CEO, and Chairman: Facebook
- Net Worth: $95.6 billion
- Facebook Ownership Stake: 13% ($92.5 billion)
- Other Assets: $2.88 billion in cash and $225 million in real estate
Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook in 2004 with fellow Harvard students Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. As Facebook gained in popularity, Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to focus on his fast-growing business. Currently, Zuckerberg is the CEO and chairman of Facebook, which had 2.8 billion monthly active users in Q4 2020, making it the world’s largest social networking service. Facebook (the company) also owns several other popular internet brands, including Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus, Workplace, Portal, and Novi. In 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Their charity aspires to leverage technology to improve access to and quality of education, criminal justice reform, immigration reform and improving housing affordability. Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth is currently $95.6 billion, almost entirely comprised of his 13% stake in Facebook.
6. Warren Buffett
- Age: 90
- Residence: Omaha, Neb.
- CEO: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A)
- Net Worth: $88.3 billion
- Berkshire Hathaway Ownership Stake: 38% ($87.1 billion)
- Other Assets: $1 billion in cash
The most famous living investor, Warren Buffett filed his first tax return in 1944 at age 14, declaring his earnings from his childhood paper route. In 1962, he bought shares in a textiles company called Berkshire Hathaway. By 1965, he was the majority shareholder. In 1967, Berkshire expanded into insurance and other investments. Today, Berkshire Hathaway is valued at over a half trillion dollars, with a single share trading at more than $350,000 in early 2021. Widely known as “The Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett made his fortune purchasing shares in companies with easy-to-understand business operations. While Buffett has opted for a more cautious approach to investing, buying stock in well-established companies that are easier to understand, he has also outright purchased a lengthy list of companies including Dairy Queen, Duracell, Geico, and Kraft Heinz. In recent years, Buffet has directed a significant portion of his wealth toward philanthropic initiatives. Between 2006 and 2020, Buffett gave away $41 billion, the majority of which went to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As of this writing, Warren Buffet’s net worth is an astounding $88.3 billion.
7. Zhong Shanshan
- Age: 66
- Residence: Hangzhou, China
- Founder, Chairman, Executive Director, and General Manager: Nongfu Spring (NNFSF)
- Net Worth: $84.7 billion
- Nongfu Spring Ownership Stake: 84% ($76.5 billion)
- Other Assets: Beijing Wantai Pharmacy Enterprise equity ($13.7 billion public asset) and $1.30 billion in cash
Despite earning a massive fortune in the Chinese beverage industry, Zhong Shanshan had a humble start in the workforce employed first as a construction worker, before becoming a news reporter. Zhong founded his first business in 1993, a health products company called Yangshengtang. A few years later, Zhong founded Nongfu Spring, a bottled water manufacturing and distribution business. Nongfu Spring eventually expanded to other beverages, like coffee, and food products, like rice and yogurt. By 2012, Nongfu Spring had become the largest bottled water company in all of China. In 2019, it became one of the top three producers of bottled tea and juice in the Chinese market. Zhong also acquired a majority stake in China’s largest infectious diseases diagnostics company Wantai in 2001, with its Beijing plant being the biggest manufacturing base of diagnostic medical devices in the country. In early 2021, Zhong stepped down from Wantai’s board for personal reasons. His net worth today is $84.7 billion.
8. Larry Page
- Age: 47
- Residence: Palo Alto, Calif.
- Co-founder and Board Member: Alphabet (GOOG)
- Net Worth: $81.7 billion
- Alphabet Ownership Stake: 6% ($69.2 billion)
- Other Assets: $12.5 billion in cash
Larry Page’s claim to fame got its start in a college dorm room, like several other technology billionaires on this list. While attending Stanford in 1995, Page and his friend Sergey Brin came up with the idea of improving data extraction capabilities on the internet. Three short years later, Page and Brin went on to found Google, with the former serving as CEO until 2001. Google is the largest Internet search engine on the planet, accounting for more than 70% of global online searches. In 2006, Google expanded into video search by purchasing Youtube, the biggest platform for user-submitted videos. Then, 2008 saw the release of the first smartphone utilizing the Android operating system, which was developed by Android Inc. prior to Google acquiring the company in 2005. Today, Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet, a holding company for which Page served as CEO between 2015 and 2019. Much like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, Larry Page maintains a keen interest in space exploration. In addition to his work with Google, Larry Page is a founding investor in a company called Planetary Resources, a space-exploration and asteroid-mining company. Established in 2009, the company was acquired by blockchain firm ConsenSys in 2018. He has also shown an interest in “flying car” companies, having invested in both Kitty Hawk and Opener. Larry Page’s phenomenal net worth is $81.7 billion as of this writing.
9. Sergey Brin
- Age: 47
- Residence: Los Altos
- Co-founder and Board Member: Alphabet (GOOG)
- Net Worth: $79.1 billion
- Alphabet Ownership Stake: 5% ($66.5 billion)
- Other Assets: $12.6 billion in cash
Sergey Brin’s involvement with Google follows a path akin to Larry Page’s. After they founded the company in 1998, Sergey Brin served as co-president alongside Larry Page until 2001 when Eric Schmidt was appointed CEO. Similarly, after founding Alphabet in 2015, Brin acted as the holding company’s president before stepping down in 2019 when Sundar Pichai became CEO. In addition to being the world’s most popular search engine, Google offers a suite of online tools and services, known as Google Workplaces, which includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Meet, Google Chat, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides and more. In addition to software, Google has also developed a sizeable hardware business, including Pixel smartphones, Pixelbook computers and tablets, Nest smart home devices and the Stadia gaming platform. Sergey Brin spent much of 2019 focusing on X, Alphabet’s “moonshot” research laboratory, which is responsible for innovative technologies like the Waymo self-driving cars and Google Glass smart glasses. He has also donated millions of dollars to Parkinson’s research, partnering with The Michael J. Fox Foundation to devise new drugs against LRRK2, one of the main genetic contributors to Parkinson’s disease. As of 2021, Sergey Brin’s net worth is a staggering $79.1 billion.
10. Larry Ellison
- Age: 76
- Residence: Woodside, Calif.
- Co-founder, CTO, and Chairman: Oracle (ORCL)
- Net Worth: $79.1 billion
- Oracle Ownership Stake: 35.4% ($51.5 billion)
- Other Assets: Tesla equity ($12.5 billion public asset) and $14.3 billion in cash
In 1977, Ellison founded Software Development Laboratories (SDL) alongside Ed Oates and Rob Miner. Two years later, they released Oracle, the first commercial relational database program to utilize Structured Query Language. The database program proved so popular that SDL would change its name to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982. Today, Oracle is the second largest software company on the planet. They provide a wide variety of cloud computing services and develop software products such as Java, Linux and the Oracle Exadata computing platform. Oracle grew significantly in the following years through the acquisition of several major companies, including PeopleSoft, Siebel, BEA Systems and Sun Microsystems. In recent years, Larry Ellison has invested many millions in luxury real estate throughout California. Additionally, he purchased nearly the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai for $300 million, upon which he built a hydroponic farm and a luxury spa. He has also donated millions of dollars to charitable causes over the years, particularly in the medical research field. For example, in 2016, Ellison donated $200 million to the University of Southern California to build a new cancer research center. As of January, 2020, Larry Elison’s net worth is an astounding $79.1 billion.