By Kerry A. Dolan and Luisa Kroll
The ranks of the world’s billionaires continue to scale new heights–and stretch to new corners of the world. Our global wealth team found a record 1,645 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion, also a record, up from $5.4 trillion a year ago. We unearthed 268 new ten-figure fortunes, including 42 new women billionaires, both also records. In total, there are 172 women on the list, more than ever before and up from 138 last year.
Bill Gates is back on top after a four-year hiatus, reclaiming the title of world’s richest person from telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico, who ranked No. 1 for the past four years. Gates, whose fortune rose by $9 billion in the past year, has held the top spot for 15 of the past 20 years. Spanish clothing retailer Amancio Ortega (best known for the Zara fashion chain) retains the No. 3 spot for the second year in a row, extending his lead over Warren Buffett, who is again No. 4. American gambling tycoon Sheldon Adelson, who added $11.5 billion to his pile, makes it back into the top ten for the first time since 2007. Another first: A record net worth of $31 billion was needed to make the top 20, up from $23 billion last year.
The Richest People On The Planet: Click to see full list
The Richest People On The Planet: Click to see full list
The year’s biggest dollar gainer was Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, whose fortune jumped $15.2 billion, to $28.5 billion, as shares of his social network soared. Tech, and more specifically Facebook, helped propel numerous fortunes lately. The company’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, joins the ranks for the first time, as does Facebook’s longtime vice president Jeff Rothschild. Also, thanks to a $19 billion deal (including restricted stock) with Facebook, WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton join the ranks of Silicon Valley’s wealthiest for the first time. They are 4 of 26 newcomers whose fortunes come from technology, 10 of whom are American, including Dropbox CEO Drew Houston and Workday cofounder Aneel Bhusri.
Thanks to the tech boom, and strong stock market, the U.S. once again leads the world with 492 billionaires, followed by China with 152 and Russia with 111. But wealth is spreading to new places. We found billionaires for the first time in Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania and Uganda. Also for the first time, an African, Aliko Dangote of Nigeria, breaks into the top 25. Worth $25 billion, he moves up 20 spots.
FULL LIST: The Richest People On The Planet
Roughly two-thirds of the billionaires built their own fortunes, 13% inherited them and 21% have been adding on to fortunes they received. Other notable newcomers include World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Vince McMahon, fashion king Michael Kors and Denise Coates of UK online betting firm Bet365.
Still not all countries–or tycoons–had good years. Turkey lost 19 billionaires due to soaring inflation, a sagging stock market and a declining value in its currency. Indonesia, whose currency tumbled 20% against the dollar, now has 8 fewer ten-figure fortunes. Altogether 100 people dropped out of the ranks, while another 16 passed away.
Top 50 Billionaires 2014
1 of 50
Lloyd Bishop/NBC/Getty Images 1. Bill Gates
1. Bill Gates
Net Worth: $76 B
Source of wealth: Microsoft
This is our 28th year publishing the Forbes Billionaires list. Though we’ve been at it a long time, it is never an easy task. Our reporters dig deep and travel far. To compile net worths, we value individuals’ assets–including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash–and take into account estimates of debt. We attempt to vet these numbers with all billionaires. Some cooperate; others don’t. We also consult an array of outside experts in various fields.
The Forbes Billionaires ranks individuals rather than large, multi-generational families who share large fortunes. So Maja Oeri, who has a disclosed stake in pharmaceutical firm Roche, makes the list, but her eight relatives who, with a nonprofit foundation, share a multi-billion fortune do not. In some cases we list siblings together if the ownership breakdown among them isn’t clear, but here, too, they must be worth a minimum of $2 billion together, or equivalent to $1 billion apiece, to make the cut. We split up these fortunes when we get better information, as we did with the Canada’s Irving brothers this year. Children are listed with their parents when one person is the founder and in control. Those fortunes are identified as “& family.”
We do not include royal family members or dictators who derive their fortunes entirely as a result of their position of power, nor do we include royalty who, often with large families, control the riches in trust for their nation. Over the years Forbes has valued the fortunes of these wealthy despots, dictators and royals but have listed them separately as they do not truly reflect individual, entrepreneurial wealth that could be passed down to a younger generation or truly given away.
Our estimates are a snapshot of wealth on Feb. 12, when we locked in stock prices and exchange rates from around the world. If a stock market wasn’t open on that day, the stock price is from the previous trading day.
The Richest People On The Planet
The ranks of the world’s billionaires have swelled to a record 1,645. While wealth spreads to new corners of the world, including for the first time places like Tanzania and Lithuania, the U.S. still dominates
Welcome To The Club: 2014’s Newest Billionaires
This year Forbes welcomes a record 268 first-time faces to our annual listing of the World’s Billionaires, including 42 women, the most ever. In aggregate they are worth some $510 billion – roughly the GDP of Norway – another record.
WEALTH EDITORS: Luisa Kroll and Kerry A. Dolan
COUNTRY EDITORS: Graham Button, Russell Flannery, Naazneen Karmali, John Koppisch,Tatiana Serafin, Nathan Vardi
WEALTH TEAM: Dan Alexander, Elena Berezanskaya, Abram Brown, Scott DeCarlo, Kathryn Dill, Agustino Fontevecchia, Ryan Mac, Alex Morrell, Andrea Navarro, Andrea Murphy, Caleb Melby, Natalie Robehmed, Tom Van Riper
REPORTERS: Forbes Czech Republic, Forbes Indonesia, Forbes Korea, Forbes Mexico, Forbes Poland, Forbes Russia, Forbes Ukraine, Zainab Amin, Anderson Antunes, Emily Canal, Erin Carlyle, Christopher Helman, Andrea Hlinka, Susanne Leiter, Zina Moukheiber, Ozer Turan
ADDITIONAL EDITING: Susan Adams, Dan Bigman, Tom Post
PHOTO RESEARCH: Merrilee Barton, Gail Toivanen
DATABASE: Dmitri Slavinsky, Louie Torres
DESIGNERS: Nina Gould
PRODUCT: Andrea Spiegel, Audrea Soong, Christian Wolan
PRODUCER: Kate Pierce
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: Forbes Africa, Yuri Aksyonov, Steven Bertoni, Jon Beveridge, Monte Burke, J.J. Colao, Dolia Estevez, Daniel Fisher, Hilary Flannery, Ricardo Geromel, Lisa H. Hata, Valery Igumenov, Neerja Pawha Jetley, Ashika Kalra, Sean Kilachand, Ernesto Linares Mascaro, Elaine Mao, Nikolai Mazurin, Brian Mertens, Joann Muller, Suzanne Nam, Lan Anh Nguyen, Mfonobong Nsehe, Clare O’Connor, Robert Olsen, Parmy Olson, Dorothy Pomerantz, Susan Radlauer, Anuradha Raghunathan, Saritha Rai, Ken Rapoza, Phyllis Fang Savage, Lucinda Schmidt, Samantha Sharf, Brian Solomon, Jessica Tan, Emily Tian, Igor Terentev, Tim Treadgold, Halah Touryalai, Bruce Upbin, Cherish Xiong, Yu Lu, Natalia Zaderey
Special thanks to Orbis by Bureau van Dijk, Privco, Real Capital Analytics, Vessels Value, Interactive Data and LionShares via FactSet Research Systems and dozens of other sources who helped us with our reporting and valuation