Tech founders dominate Forbes magazine's billionaire list

The boom in tech stocks has made people like Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg multibillionaires, followed by the founders of Twitter, Snap and WhatsApp. The Forbes 400 list provides an annual score...

Forbes Top 10 billionaries in 217
ZDNet screen grab from the Forbes 400

The best way to become one of the richest people in America is to found a successful technology company. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ($89bn) has topped this year's Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America for the 24th consecutive year, despite being briefly overtaken by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ($81.5bn).

But other tech founders are also closing in. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg ($71bn) is in fourth place, having increased his net wealth by $15.5bn in the past year. Oracle's Larry Ellison ($59bn), in fifth place, is almost $10bn better off.

The only non-techie in the Top 5 is Gates's buddy Warren Buffett ($78bn), in third place. However, even Warren has been making news in the tech world, thanks to Berkshire Hathaway's investments in IBM and Apple.

Google co-founders Larry Page ($44.6bn) and Sergey Brin ($43.4bn) just made it into the Top 10. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ($33.6bn) placed 15th, with Michael Dell ($23.2bn) in 19th, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen ($20.6bn) in 22nd. Eric Schmidt ($12.6bn) completed the Google triumvirate in 35th place.

Further down the list, Snap co-founder Evan Spiegel ($3.1bn) has the distinction of being the youngest person on the Forbes 400, while Netflix's Reed Hastings ($3.2bn) entered the list for the first time.

Forbes reckons there are 59 technology billionaires in the Top 400. See if you can write down a dozen names before I spell them out....

The tech billionaires include Jan Koum and Brian Acton (both from WhatsApp), James Goodnight (SAS), Gordon Moore (Intel), Gabe Newell (Valve), Pierre Omidar, Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Skoll (all eBay), Peter Thiel and Sean Parker (Facebook), David Filo and Jerry Yang (Yahoo), Marc Benioff (Salesforce.com), Jen-Hsun Huang (Nvidia), Henry Samueli and Henry Nicholas (Broadcom), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Charles Simonyi (Microsoft), and James Clark (Netscape).

Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg ($1.6bn) didn't make the cut.

If you are not the next Bill Gates or Zuck, find someone who is and become a co-founder, or at least arrive early enough to get a good-sized stock option. Or if you have a bit of money, you can bankroll their start-up, or at least buy some shares in their IPO. That will help make them even richer....

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