If there was a category above the ultra-wealthy, what would you name it? Maybe something like the “spaceship-owning-super-rich”? It’s something to ponder as you peruse the latest list of the world’s wealthiest people, released by Forbes earlier this week.
The report not only names the who’s who of the billionaire club — all 1,826 of them — but also denotes different trends of wealth acquisition and distribution. For example, billionaires’ aggregate net worth went up from $6.4 trillion in 2014 to $7.05 trillion this year. There are 46 billionaires under the age of 40, and of the 290 newly minted billionaires, 71 are from China. However, most of the ultra rich are from the United States or are first generation Americans.
How does Forbes compile this huge list? Their team of reporters gathers net worth, values individuals’ assets such as stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash, and take into account billionaire’s estimated debt. They also reach out to billionaires to make sure their numbers are correct and, as their article says, “some cooperate; others don’t.” Another important thing to note is that this Forbes list only ranks individuals rather than “multi-generational families who share large fortunes,” and so you will see that members of the same family are tied or outrank each other on the list.
Forbes emphasized that this list only includes entrepreneurs, not individuals who are part of a royal family, dictators or other families who control a nation’s riches.
To see the billionaires who made the top 25, keep reading.
25. David Thomson: $25.5B
Thomson Reuters media mogul
Grandson of Roy Thomson, 1st Baron Thomson of Fleet, David Thomson has been chairman of the board of his grandfather’s media conglomerate, the Thomson Corporation, since 2002. The company acquired Reuters in 2008 to form Thomson Reuters. David now owns 40 percent stake in CTVglobemedia, owners of the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto, through the Thomson family investment company the Woodbridge Company Limited. David is currently co-chairman of Woodbridge and is 57 years old.
22. Tie: John Mars, Jacqueline Mars, Forrest Mars, Jr.: $26.6 B (each)
The Mars, Inc. family
Brother and sister John and Jacqueline Mars, and father Forrest Mars, Jr. are heirs to the Mars, Inc. candy and food makers and distributors giant. Founded in 1911 by their great grandfather, Franklin Clarence Mars, when he started making butter cream candy in his Tacoma, Washington kitchen, Mars, Inc. is America’s sixth largest private company.
Sources: Mars.com, Forbes (This March 26, 2014 photograph shows the entrance of the new Mars Inc. production facility near Topeka, Kan. It’s the company’s first new North American production facility in 35 years. AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
21. Georg F. W. Schaeffler: $26.9B
INA Holding Schaeffler GmbH & Co. KG
Georg hails from Germany and owns 80 percent of the company that his father and his father’s brother started in 1946, which produces ball bearings and other industrial components. Founded after the Second World War was over, the company began selling handcarts and other wood products, and, in 1949, Georg’s father developed the needle roller bearing. Currently, Georg’s mother, Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, owns the other 20 percent of INA. Georg himself received a law degree from Duke University.
Sources: INA.de, INA.de/management (Proprietors Maria-Elisabeth Schaeffler, left, and her son Georg F.W. Schaeffler of Ina Holding Schaeffler KG talk during the celebrations marking the 100th anniversary of German carmaker Audi, Thursday July 16, 2009 in Ingolstadt, southern Germany. AP Photo/Daniel Karmann)
20. Sergey Brin: $29.2B
Born in Russia, Brin emigrated to the U.S. when he was six. Along with Larry Page, Brin founded tech giant Google in 1998, while they were both attending Stanford University for their Ph.D. on computer science. Currently, he directs special projects and has been linked to the secretive wing of the Google corporation called Google X, which researches and develops risky tech projects, such as Google Glass and Google’s self-driving car.
Sources: Forbes, Google, Inc., Research.Google.com, FastCompany (Google co-founder Sergey Brin stands on stage during a bill signing by California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., for driverless cars at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
19. Larry Page: $29.7B
Google’s CEO and cofounder, Larry Page is tasked with managing the long-term strategy for the search engine giant in Palo Alto. Page has been named a visionary and a great leader by many people, and has even been compared to Thomas Edison at GE.
18. Sheldon Adelson: $31.4B
Las Vegas Sands
Owner of the largest gaming company in the world, Sheldon Adelson’s story is one of rags to riches. He started his first business when he was 12: selling newspapers in a corner. Today, most of his fortune comes from his biggest market in Macau, on the western side of the Pearl River Delta in China.
Sources: Forbes. (AP Photo/John Locher)
17. Li Ka-shing: $33.3B
Cheung King (Holdings) Limited
His companies employ a small country of people, 280,000 to be exact. He is, after all, the richest man in Asia. Owner of Cheung King (Holdings) Limited (CKH), a multi-national company that deals with property and real estate management, health related products and other investments, Li Ka-shing is currently the chairman of both CKH and Hutchinson Whampoa Limited. He and his family fled to Hong Kong when he was 12 years old, and by age 15 he had to provide for his family after his father’s death. He worked 16 hour days at a plastics trading company until he was able to start his own plastic manufacturing company in 1950, Cheung Kong Industries. From there, he branched out into real estate investments.
Sources: Forbes, CKH (Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, chairman of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., and Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd., gestures during a press conference to announce his companies’ annual results in Hong Kong Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
16. Mark Zuckerberg: $33.4B
With the recent changes in advertising, it’s no wonder that the social media giant increased its revenue 58 percent in 2014, plus it has 1.4 billion users worldwide. Oh, did I forget to mention that Facebook also owns former competitors WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as virtual reality headset maker Oculus VR.
Sources: Forbes, Facebook (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gestures while delivering the keynote address at the f8 Facebook Developer Conference Wednesday, April 30, 2014, in San Francisco. AP Photo/Ben Margot)
15. Jeff Bezos: $34.8B
Can you imagine running a company that does $74 billion in sales and employs almost 120,000 people? That’s what Bezos does every day. He founded Amazon.com in 1994, after leaving hedge fund D.E. Shaw in New York City. What started originally as an online retailer has evolved into a tech company that sells all kinds of goods. The company focuses on offering great customer service, competitive prices, and soon, same-day delivery … maybe via creepy flying drones.
Sources: Forbes and the Forbes brands list. (In this June 16, 2014 file photo, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks on stage for the launch of the new Amazon Fire Phone, in Seattle. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
14. Michael Bloomberg: $35.5B
New York City’s former mayor, Bloomberg returned to run his media company this year. Originally from Boston, Bloomberg started in an entry level job at an investment bank in 1966 on Wall Street. He rose through the ranks and became head of equity trading and then head of information services at Salomon Brothers. In 1981, he and other investors founded Bloomberg LP. In 2014, he was appointed special envoy for cities and climate change by United Nations’ secretary general, Ban Ki-Moon.
Sources: Forbes (Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, addresses the audience at the City Climate Leadership Awards, presented by C40 and Siemens, on Monday, Sept. 22, 2014 in New York City. Ed Rieker/AP Images for Siemens)