We all enjoy anecdotes about the world’s richest people, and how easy life must be for them on a daily basis. Every one of us knows at least one person who is ‘rich’, but even that person is a very long way from being wealthy. True wealth comes not from money in the bank (although they help), but from the power that ownership gives to whomever has enough to influence and even control the lives of others.
The following list isn’t about the fortunate lottery winners of yesterday, or the clever investors of today. It is about the world’s wealthiest people, men and women who saw opportunity in what they were doing, and who capitalized on it to a great extent. Without further ado, here are the top 10 richest people in the world today:
10. Jim Walton – $36.6 billion
Jim is the youngest son of Sam Walton, the man who founded Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the world. He owns 413 million shares of Wal-Mart, and about 51 percent of the retailer along with his brothers. Jim alone owns around 12 percent of the company’s outstanding stock, making him the biggest shareholder in the Walton family. He also controls Arvest Bank and Community Publishers, although his main wealth comes from Wal-Mart.
9. Christy Walton – $38.5 billion
Christy Walton is the richest woman in the world. As one of the major shareholders of Wal-Mart, she owns around 12 percent of the retail giant, and another 25 million shares of First Solar. Christy inherited her wealth from her late husband John T. Walton, one of Sam Walton’s sons. She is also a member of the San Diego Natural History Museum‘s board of directors and part of San Diego’s Zoological Society.
8. Larry Ellison – $41.2 billion
Larry is the founder of Oracle, the largest database company in the world. He currently owns real estate in Rhode Island, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Malibu, and Japan. Ellison also owns around 46 percent of NetSuite which is behind LeapFrog Enterprises, a company that makes educational software. To give you an impression of how wealthy Larry Ellison is, consider the fact that he owns an entire island in Hawaii, the Lanai island. Due to the fact that he signed ‘The Giving Pledge’ in 2010, he is committed to give away 95 percent of his fortune to charitable causes.
7. David Koch – $45.4 billion
David is the Executive Vice President of Koch Industries, a multinational corporation based in Wichita, Kansas, United States. As one of the largest closely held companies in the world, Koch Industries is involved in trading, ranching, paper pulp, oil refining, and pipelines. David owns more than 42 percent of Koch Industries, and is an active supporter of the Republican Party. He also ran for Vice President of the United States not so long ago.
6. Charles Koch – $45.4 billion
Charles is the Chief Executive Officer and the Chairman of Koch Industries, a company that he runs with his brother. Just like his brother David, Charles owns 42 percent of Koch Industries, which is worth more than $40 billion. Among others, Koch Industries owns Georgia Pacific, Koch Nitrogen, and Guardian Industries. As for his education, Charles graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
5. Ingvar Kamprad – $56.5 billion
Ingvar is the richest man in Sweden and the fifth richest man in the world. He is the owner of Ikea, the largest furniture retailer on the planet. Ingvar is also a member of the Ikano Group, a group that owns four Ikea franchises in Asia, several real estate properties, and a credit card business. Interestingly enough, Ingvar lived in Switzerland for more than 40 years in order to evade the taxing system in Sweden, one that he considered to progressive for his liking.
4. Amancio Ortega – $57.3 billion
Amancio owns 59 percent of Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer. Inditex also owns the fashion chain Zara, which is a brand renowned throughout the world, and several other brands like Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, and Stradivarius. Amancio has most of his wealth invested in real estate, owning properties in all the major cities in Spain, Europe, and the United States. Needless to say, he is also the richest man in Spain.
3. Warren Buffett – $60.2 billion
Warren is the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the largest publicly traded holding company in the world. It would be tiresome to list out all the brands that Berkshire Hathaway has invested in over the years. Let’s just say that Geico, Lubrizol, and MidAmerican Energy is among them. Warren also has shares in companies like Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola, and American Express. Just like Larry Ellison, he is part of ‘The Giving Pledge’, according to which 95 percent of his wealth will be donated to charity after he dies.
2. Carlos Slim – $66.8 billion
Although many consider Carlos to be THE richest man in the world, the fact that most analysts see him as a close second says a lot about how rich he really is. Carlos is involved in telecommunications via America Movil, in mining via Minera Frisco, and banking via Inbursa. He also has a lot of money invested in the construction industry. Carlos also has shares in Philip Morris, YPF, and the New York Times.
1. Bill Gates – $71.2 billion
Bill was the first person to see the potential of Personal Computers all those years ago, and both he and Microsoft benefited from this. At the moment, Bill Gates retains his title as the world’s wealthiest man, a title he doesn’t value very much. Bill owns ‘just’ 5 percent of Microsoft nowadays, and he is also the largest shareholder of the biggest railroad company in Canada. Bill is also one of the most charitable people in the world, and has decided to donate all of his wealth to the foundation that he and his wife have established after his death. Meanwhile, he donates large amounts of money to charity on a monthly basis.