Forbes has just released its annual list of the world’s billionaires, featuring a number of tech entrepreneur newcomers whose fortunes have exploded out of nowhere.
Having risen to the dizzy heights of Gates, Buffett and Zuckerberg so fast we’re surprised they don’t have nosebleeds, here’s how the newest additions, all self-made, built their fortunes.
1. Elizabeth Holmes ($4.9bn)
Holmes, a 31-year old health technology entrepreneur, dropped out of a chemistry degree at Stanford to pursue her own path at the tender age of 19, after deciding that the money her parents were spending on her education could be better used to fund an actual company.
At the time, she was one of the university’s rising stars and had already patented a wearable patch that used a mobile phone chip to monitor variables in a patient’s blood and monitor their drug dosage accordingly. While Stanford can’t have been thrilled to lose her, Holmes managed to persuade one of her professors that she was on to something and he actually joined her as a director of her company, Theramos
Holmes’ concept was to develop a painless way of gathering blood samples for testing that involves no needles and requires only a tiny drop. Theramos is now worth $9bn, of which Holmes owns 50%.
Here she is in TED Talk mode:
2. Evan Spiegel ($1.5bn) and Bobby Holmes ($1.5bn)
Snapchat founders Spiegel and Holmes founded their photo messaging service while students at Stanford University (them again!) in 2011. By May 2014, 700m images were being sent every day via the app.
The pair’s decision to turn down an offer to buy the company for $3bn in 2013 seems to have paid off. It’s currently estimated at nearer $20bn and has made Evan Spiegel, at just 24 years old, the youngest person ever to feature on the Rich List. Here he is, again in 2013, trying to convince a sceptical audience at TechCrunch that the company will make money.
3. Travis Kalanick ($5.3bn)
Unlike some of kid wonders on this list that went from 0 to billionaire on their first try, Kalanick’s success has been slightly more evenly paced. His first company, a peer-to-peer file sharing site, went bust in 2000 after just two years of operation, but Kalanick learned from his mistakes with Red Swoosh, a second peer-to-peer file sharing company that he set up just one year later and sold to Akamai in 2007 for $19m.
However, it was the creation of Uber that brought Kalanick the big(gest) bucks. Despite bad press and quibbles with international regulators, the company is thriving, taking its co-founder’s net worth up to $5.5 billion.
Here he is dispensing invaluable advice at the Y Combinator Startup School in 2012:
4. Joe Gebbia ($1.9bn), Brian Chesky ($1.9bn) and Nathan Blecharczyk ($1.9bn)
The trio behind Airbnb have sailed onto the billionaire list just seven years after founding the company in Silicon Valley. The company is the brainchild of flatmates Chesky and Gebbia, who decided to rent out a couple of airbeds in their flat when a major industry conference nearby led to a shortage of hotel rooms before asking industrial designer Blecharczyk to join them in turning a quick buck into a global company.
Last year, the company was valued at $10bn. Chesky, an avid user of Airbnb himself, has not owned a home since 2010. In this lecture, he explains how Airbnb achieved its phenomenal success.
5. Michael Jordan ($1bn)
Sporting prowess might have made Jordan a household name, but his business acumen has made him a billionaire. His tie-in with Nike, to create the Jordan brand, brought in $80m in 2013 and his stake in the Charlotte Hornets basketball team has now increased to $500m. Combined with his personal wealth and investments, this brings his total net worth up to $1bn.
Here’s Jordan giving an emotional acceptance speech after being awarded a prestigious business award last year.