Jeff Bezos, the founder of e-commerce giant Amazon, continues to remain the world’s richest person, according to the Forbes World’s Billionaire list that was released on Tuesday. Reliance Industries’ Mukesh Ambani leads the 106 billionaires from India on the list. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dropped three spots and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg rose by two. Only two women – L’Oreal Heiress Francoise Bettencourt and Alice Walton, chairman of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art – could make it to the Forbes’ top 20 list.
For this year’s list, Forbes said “capitalism is taking some lumps” as 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”.
Among the regions, Asia-Pacific was the hardest hit, with 60 fewer 10-figure fortunes. That dip was led by China, which has 49 fewer billionaires than a year ago, Forbes said adding that Europe, the Middle East and Africa also lost ground. The Americas, driven by a resurgent Brazil, and the US are the only two regions that have more billionaires than they did a year ago.
The 20 richest billionaires in the world
Jeff Bezos and family
Jeff Bezos continues to hold the post of world’s richest person. The Amazon founder’s riches swelled by $19 billion in one year and is now worth $131 billion, Forbes said. In January, he and his wife, MacKenzie, announced they will divorce after 25 years of marriage. As per Washington law, MacKenzie could get up to half of Jeff’s assets, making her the richest woman on earth.
Bill Gates, 63, saw his wealth grow to $96.5 billion, up from 90 billion last year, said Forbes. Bill Gates and wife Melinda, chair the world’s largest private charitable foundation – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates has also sold or given away much of his stake in Microsoft — he owns just over 1% of shares –and invested in a mix of stocks and other assets. Till now, Gates has donated $35.8 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the Gates Foundation.
Investment guru Warren Buffet saw fortunes slipping by $1.5 billion to $82.5 billion, the magazine said. Known as the “Oracle of Ohama,” Buffett runs Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies, including insurer Geico, battery maker Duracell and restaurant chain Dairy Queen. He has promised to give away over 99% of his fortune. In 2018 he donated $3.4 billion, much of it to the foundation of friends Bill and Melinda Gates.
Bernard Arnault, CEO of French luxury good company, LVMH, held on to the fourth position. With a net worth of $76 Billion, Arnault oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. His company, LVMH, posted record sales and profits in 2018
Carlos Slim Helu
Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim Helu, comes next on the list with $64 Billion worth. He and his family control America Movil, Latin America’s biggest mobile telecom firm.
Amancio Ortega is one of the world’s wealthiest retailer. A pioneer in fast fashion, he co-founded Inditex, known for its Zara fashion chain, with his ex-wife in 1975. Ortega typically earns more than $400 million in dividends a year.
Larry Ellison, the Oracle founder is seventh on the list. He gave up the Oracle CEO role in 2014 but still serves as chairman of the board and chief technology officer. Ellison joined Tesla’s board in December 2018, after purchasing 3 million Tesla shares earlier that year.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg lost $9 billion in net worth to slip from fifth the to eighth position, in this year’s list. Last year, Zuckerberg was caught in controversies related to fake news, Facebook data breach scandal. In April 2018, he testified before Congress after it was revealed that Facebook shared users’ data with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. In 2019, his priority would be tackling social issues, Zuckerberg said.
Bloomberg CEO, Michael Bloomberg, is next on the list with a net worth of $55.5 billion. 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.
Larry Page, who is at the helm of Google’s parent company – Alphabet, is the tenth richest person with $50.8 billion net worth. Page was Google’s first CEO until 2001. After serving as president of products, he took the CEO job again in 2011.
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.
David Koch shares majority control of Koch Industries, with brother Charles. A well-known philanthropist, David is a donor to New York’s Lincoln Center and Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Both brothers have a net worth of $50.5 billion.
The only Indian among the top 20 richest persons, Mukesh Ambani jumped six positions to rank 13th on the list. Ambani, 61, saw wealth soar from $40.1 billion in 2018 when he was placed 19th richest in the world, to $50 billion to be rank at 13th in 2019. Reliance Jio has signed on 280 million customers by offering free domestic voice calls, dirt-cheap data services and virtually free smartphones.
Sergey Brin, is the president tech giant Alphabet, the parent firm of Google. He has a net worth of $49.8 billion
Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
L’Oreal Heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, 65, is the richest woman in the world, with a net worth of $49.3 billion. Bettencourt Meyers and her family own 33% of L’Oreal stock, which recorded its best sales growth in more than a decade in 2018. 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.
At the 15th position is Jim Walton, the youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. He runs the family’s Arvest Bank, which boasts assets of more than $16 billion. Collectively Jim and other heirs of Sam Walton own about half of Walmart’s stock.
Jim’ sister Alice Walton is next on the list. She is the chairman of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and has focused on curating art, rather than working for Walmart like her siblings, Rob and Jim. 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.
The third sibling on the block, 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.
Steve Ballmer, is the former CEO of Microsoft, who led the company from 2000 to 2014. 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. Currently, he owns the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. 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, the magazine said.
Also known as Pony Ma, Ma Huateng chairs Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings. Tencent’s popular social messaging app WeChat has more than 1 billion users.
(Source: Forbes Billionaire list)