Forbes has been creating its own annual list of the world’s billionaires for many decades now. However, their lists are known to have some limitations. For instance, Forbes prepares its list using a selected group of around 50 reporters who are based mostly in a few Western-oriented and Asian countries, thus ignoring the vast majority of wealthy people in rest of the world.
They also exclude monarchs as well as other individuals who have amassed vast amounts in wealth through inscrutable means.
In this day of a globalized economy and offshore tax havens, it is increasingly difficult to track the assets held by individuals or families as not all assets are necessarily held in the form of cash, bank assets or other liquid assets. As such, much of the attributed wealth of the richest people in the list is subject to fluctuations in the financial assets, including publicly known stock holdings. In fact, Forbes keeps a real time ranking of its Forbes Richest lists with day to day updates on the billionaires' net worth.
Many monarchs or wealthy individuals who own or operate big corporations or have inherited large estates from their benefactors but like to keep out of public sight and do not own much in the way of financial assets in the capital markets are often overlooked.
In ascending order, here are 10 of the world's richest persons.
10. Michael Bloomberg
With an estimated wealth of US$47.5 billion, Michael Bloomberg just makes the list of the top 10 world’s richest people, according to Forbes. He has been the mayor of New York City multiple times and also founded Bloomberg L.P., a global financial data and media company.
After completing formal education, he worked in Wall Street. Despite his scandalous past, he continues to contribute to charitable causes. His political inclinations have changed from time to time, switching from one party to the other as long as it suited him.
Bloomberg fell 2 places from 2016 to his current 10th position.
9. David Koch
David Koch’s wealth is estimated at US$48.3 billion. David Koch is known as one of the co-owners of privately held Koch Industries. His work experience included stints with numerous consultancy firms. He is a philanthropist who survived cancer and has donated millions of dollars for furthering medical research.
He also dabbled in politics. Philanthropy has also been one area where he has been very active. A charitable foundation that he started is the David H Koch Charitable Foundation. Beyond that, he also started the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a political advocacy organization.
Koch had tied in 9th position with his brother, Charles, in 2016.
8. Charles Koch
With an estimated wealth US$48.3 billion, Charles Koch – like his brother – is one of the co-owners of privately held Koch Industries. Koch Industries was founded by Fred Koch and is one of the largest privately held enterprises in the United States. Founded in 1940, the company grew rapidly thanks in part to the contributions of Fred Koch’s two sons Charles and David.
Today, the company has interests in a wide range of industries. These include manufacturing, refining and distribution of petroleum, chemicals, energy, fibre, polymers and intermediates, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper.
Koch rose one place from 9th position in 2016, overtaking both his brother David, and Bloomberg.
8. Larry Ellison
Worth an estimated $52.2 billion, Larry Ellison is known for being the founder of Oracle. Born to an unwed Jewish mother and an ethnically Italian father, Ellison has 2 houses in the San Francisco Bay Area. He intends to disburse 95% of his wealth to charity. He was also notorious within the tech industry for his straight talking, no-holds barred attitude and his bad boy reputation.
Ellison slipped by one spot to place at #8 in 2017.
6. Carlos Slim Helu
Worth approximately US$54.5 billion, the Mexican tycoon hails from a family of Arab heritage. Well known for his philanthropic activities, the Mexican business magnate also studied civil engineering at the National Autonomous University of Mexico or UNAM. Mobile phone services operator América Móvil’s ownership has landed him most of his fortunes. But his business empire runs the entire gamut from aluminium to tires to investments in other sectors like hospitality. It is fair to say his contributions to Mexico have been enormous and go beyond merely seeking personal profits.
Helu slipped 2 places from 4th position in 2016.
5. Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg is one of the youngest billionaires to make the list of richest people in the planet. Estimates of his wealth hover around the US$56 billion mark. As a co-founder of Facebook, along with Eduardo Saverin of Brazil who later moved to Singapore to evade taxes and a few others, Zuckerberg is a well known individual.
He is married to Priscilla Chan and has a young child. Facebook remains the most visited social networking site in the world although it is not accessible within China.
Zuckerberg rose by 1 position from 2016.
4. Amancio Ortega
With an estimated wealth of US$71.3 billion, Amancio Ortega is the owner and founder of the company Inditex, which owns fashion brand Zara and some others. Apart from fashion, his holdings include real estate in Madrid, Barcelona, Lisbon, London, Chicago, New York and Miami.
Apart from that, he has investments in tourism, gas and banking sectors. Famous Spanish football team Deportivo La Coruna is also owned by him. He started as an assistant in a shop selling shirts. His rise from being a son of a railway worker to his current position was a noteworthy achievement.
Ortega slipped two positions from second spot in 2016.
3. Jeff Bezos
With an estimated wealth of US$72.8 billion, the founder of Amazon.com worked as a financial analyst before he went on to found what would turn him into one of the richest persons in the United States.
Born Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen, Jeff Bezos was later adopted by his stepfather. After his formal education, he worked in Wall Street but his decision in 1994 to set up his own company would not necessarily see immediate returns. Profitability was only reached in 2001. Fast forward to today, Amazon is now one of the world’s largest e-commerce platform, rivalling China’s Alibaba in scale and size of daily shipments.
Bezos rose 2 positions from the 5th position in 2016.
2. Warren Buffett
Worth approximately US$75.6 billion, billionaire Warren Buffett is known for his canny investing skills. One quirky fact is that, he still lives in his 6,000 square feet home that was bought in 1958 for US$31,500.
He has also pledged to donate up to 99% of his wealth to charity. Within 10 years of his death, the donated amount will be spent according to his stipulations.
Buffett rose 1 place from third position in 2016.
1. Bill Gates
Worth US$86 billion, Bill Gates needs no introduction. Born in Seattle in the USA in 1955, he went on to co-found Microsoft. Apart from being the co-founder of the world’s largest software company and leading it until he stepped down as CEO in 2008, he is also known publicly for his philanthropic ambitions.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helps out in areas relating to AIDS, tuberculosis, polio and famine in parts of Africa.
Gates retained his pole position for the 4th year running.