March 3, 2015
10 richest newcomers on Forbes’s billionaire list
NBA legend Michael Jordan (right) made it to Forbes’ billionaire list, but he’s not among the 10 richest newcomers
Falling oil prices and a weak euro have hurt the net worth of many of the world’s richest people, but those forces haven’t stopped a new crop of ultrawealthy contenders from joining Forbes magazine’s 2015 billionaire list. And in a reversal from last year, most of this year’s newcomers hail from China.
Some 290 new arrivals joined the Forbes billionaire list over the last year. Roughly one-quarter of 2015’s first-time billionaires came from China, which produced 71 newcomers; the U.S. produced 57 new billionaires, followed by India with 28 and Germany with 23. Of last year’s 268 newcomers, the U.S. produced the largest contingent of 50, followed by China with 37, Germany with 26 and Brazil with 23.
“China’s No. 1,” says Steve Siebold, author of “How Rich People Think,” a book about how the rich acquired their fortunes. “They’re more of an emerging economy and we’ll probably continue to see it with China and India, particularly with technology.” That said, of the 1,826 billionaires on Forbes’ list — with an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion, up from $6.4 trillion a year ago — seven of the top 10 were American.
In the U.S., sports-related ownership and earnings feature heavily. When former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion last year, values of all National Basketball Association teams soared, enabling Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls ($1.3 billion), and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander ($1.6 billion) to join the billionaire list. Michael Jordan ($1 billion) is on the list for the first time thanks to his part-ownership of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats and his ongoing Nike sponsorship deals.
The newcomers range in age from 24 (Evan Spiegel, co-founder of instant-message service Snapchat) to 97 (Maria Franca Fissolo, Nutella heiress). They come from six continents and became rich from industries including gambling, videogames, alcohol, soybean trading and technology. The ride-sharing service Uber now sports a valuation of $41.2 billion, which elevated co-founders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp and their first hire, Ryan Graves, to the list.
Other 2014 technology newcomers included Jan Koum and Brian Acton, co-founders of instant messaging service WhatsApp, and Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -0.22% Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. Other newcomers last year included early Facebook employee Jeff Rothschild, now the company’s vice president of infrastructure software; Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR +0.08% co-founder Evan Williams; and Drew Houston, co-founder of online storage site Dropbox.
Despite all the new arrivals, at the top of the list “the composition seems quite similar from year to year,” says Jonathan Wai, a research scientist in psychology at Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. Indeed, Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +0.04% co-founder Bill Gates ($79.2 billion) is still the world’s richest person, followed by Mexico’s Carlos Slim ($77.1 billion), investor Warren Buffett ($72.7 billion) and Spanish retail magnate Amancio Ortega ($64.5 billion).
On the following pages meet the 10 richest new billionaires from Forbes’s 2015 list.
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