Who Are Forbes’ Top 20 Richest People In The World in 2021?

In the 35th annual list of richest people in the world drawn up by Forbes, there are 493 new billionaires, including 210 from China and Hong Kong and another 98 from the United States. In total, there are 2,755 billionaires in 2021, 660 more than last year. Despite the pandemic’s effect on the world’s economies, Forbes Billionaires ranking highlights a record for the richest in the world who have seen their assets increase by about 5,000 billion dollars, jumping from $8 trillion of the 2020 ranking to $13.1 trillion.

105 billionaires are under 40, the youngest being 18-year-old Kevin David Lehmann, worth $3.3 billion after inheriting stakes in German drugstore chain dm-drogerie markt from his father, Guenther Lehmann. 24-year-old Austin Russell, founder of Luminar Technologies. Russell officially became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire after his company went public in December. He’s among 1,975 billionaires (72% of the list) who have “made themselves” without having inherited anything.  Of the 493 “new entries,” many owe their fortune to cryptocurrency, SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies), traditional IPOs and Covid-related healthcare. 61 people left the list, 23 died and 7 women made it to the top 50.

Jeff Bezos

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Jeff Bezos | Twitter

Net worth: $177 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: Jeff Bezos founded the e-commerce giant Amazon in 1994 out of his garage in Seattle. He will step down as CEO and become executive chairman in late 2021. Even after he divorced his wife MacKenzie in 2019 after 25 years of marriage and transferred a quarter of his Amazon stake to her, he still remains the richest man in the world. Bezos owns The Washington Post and Blue Origin, an aerospace company that is developing rockets for commercial use.

Elon Musk

Photo: theceomagazine.com

Net worth: $151 B

Industry: Automotive

Profile: Elon Musk is working to revolutionize transportation both on Earth, through electric car maker Tesla – and in space, via rocket producer SpaceX. He owns 21% of Tesla but has pledged more than half his stake as collateral for loans.

Bernard Arnault and Family

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: businessoffashion.com

Net worth: $150 B

Industry: Fashion and Retail

Profile: Bernard Arnault oversees an empire of 70 brands including Louis Vuitton and Sephora. In January 2021, LVMH completed a deal for American jeweler Tiffany & Co for $15.8 billion, believed to be the biggest luxury brand acquisition ever. LVMH spent $3.2 billion in 2019 for luxury hospitality group, Belmond, which owns or manages 46 hotels, trains, and river cruises. His father made a small fortune in construction; Arnault got his start by putting up $15 million from that business to buy Christian Dior in 1985.

Bill Gates

Net worth: $124 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: With his wife Melinda, Bill Gates chairs the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation. In May 2020, the Gates Foundation said it would spend $300 million to fight the coronavirus pandemic, funding treatment, detection, and vaccines. Gates has sold or given away much of his stake in Microsoft — he owns just over 1% of shares—and invested in a mix of stocks and other assets. Also, in mid-March 2020, Gates stepped down as a board member of Microsoft, the software firm he founded with Paul Allen in 1975. To date, Gates has donated $35.8 billion worth of Microsoft stock to the Gates Foundation and still remains one of the richest people in the world.

Mark Zuckerberg

Photo: thestar.com

Net worth: $97 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: Facebook, the social network Zuckerberg runs, has become a go-to communications tool during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Zuckerberg started Facebook at Harvard in 2004 at the age of 19 for students to match names with photos of classmates. He took Facebook public in May 2012 and still owns about 15% of the stock. In December 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stake over their lifetimes.

Warren Buffett

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Timothy Archibald for Forbes

Net worth: $96 B

Industry: Finance and Investments

Profile: Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of all time. Buffett runs Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies, including insurer Geico, battery maker Duracell and restaurant chain Dairy Queen. He first bought stock at age 11 and first filed taxes at age 13. He has promised to donate over 99% of his wealth. So far, he has given more than $41 billion, mostly to the Gates Foundation and his kids’ foundations. In 2010, he and Bill Gates launched the Giving Pledge, asking billionaires to commit to donating at least half of their wealth to charitable causes.

Larry Ellison

Photo: Jamel Toppin For Forbes

Net worth: $93 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: Larry Ellison is chairman, chief technology officer, co-founder of software giant Oracle, of which he owns about 35.4%, and one of the richest people in the world. He gave up the Oracle CEO role in 2014 after 37 years at the helm. Oracle has grown in part through steady acquisitions of software companies, the biggest of which was $9.3 billion for Netsuite in 2016. In May 2016, Ellison pledged $200 million to the University of Southern California for a cancer treatment center. Also, in 2012, Ellison spent $300 million to buy nearly all of Hawaiian island Lanai; so far, he has built a hydroponic farm and a luxury spa there. Ellison joined Tesla’s board in December 2018, after purchasing 3 million Tesla shares earlier that year.

Larry Page

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/CNP/ADMEDIA/NEWSCOM via Forbes

Net worth: $91.5 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: Larry Page stepped down as CEO of Alphabet, the parent of Google, in December 2019 but remains a board member and a controlling shareholder. He cofounded Google in 1998 with fellow Stanford Ph.D. student Sergey Brin. With Brin, Page invented Google’s PageRank algorithm, which powers the search engine. Page was CEO until 2001, when Eric Schmidt took over, and then from 2011 until 2015 when he became CEO of Google’s new parent company Alphabet. He is also a founding investor in space exploration company Planetary Resources and is also funding “flying car” startups Kitty Hawk and Opener.

Sergey Brin

Photo: Kelly Sullivan/GettyImages via Forbes

Net worth: $89 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: Sergey Brin, one of the richest people in the world, stepped down as president of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, in December 2019 but remains a controller shareholder and a board member. He co-founded Google with Larry Page in 1998 after the two met at Stanford University while studying for advanced degrees in computer science. Google went public in 2004 and changed its name to Alphabet in 2015. Brin was absent from public Alphabet events for much of 2019; he spent his time on Alphabet’s moonshot research lab X. Brin is reportedly funding a high-tech airship project.

Mukesh Ambani

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Ritam Banerjee via Forbes

Net worth: $84.5 B

Industry: Diversified

Profile: Mukesh Ambani chairs and runs $88 billion (revenue) Reliance Industries, which has interests in petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecom, and retail. Reliance was founded by his late father Dhirubhai Ambani, a yarn trader, in 1966 as a small textile manufacturer. After his father’s death in 2002, Ambani and his younger sibling, Anil divvied up the family empire. However, in 2016, Reliance sparked a price war in India’s hyper-competitive telecom market with the launch of the 4G phone service Jio. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Ambani raised more than $20 billion selling a third of Jio to a string of investors, such as Facebook and Google.

Amancio Ortega

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Inditex/AP via npr.org

Net worth: $77 B

Industry: Fashion and Retail

Profile: Amancio Ortega of Spain is one of the wealthiest clothing retailers in the world. A pioneer in fast fashion, he cofounded Inditex, known for its Zara fashion chain, with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera in 1975. He owns about 60% of Madrid-listed Inditex, which has 8 brands, including Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, and 7,500 stores around the world. Ortega typically earns more than $400 million in dividends a year. He has also invested his dividends primarily into real estate in Madrid, Barcelona, London, Chicago, Miami, and New York.

Françoise Bettencourt Meyers and Family

Photo: urbanwomanmag.com

Net worth: $73.6 B

Industry: Fashion and Retail

Profile:Françoise Bettencourt Meyers is the granddaughter of the founder of L’Oreal and the richest woman in the world. Bettencourt Meyers and her family own around 33% of L’Oreal stock. She has served on L’Oreal’s board since 1997 and is chairwoman of the family holding company. Besides, she became France’s reigning L’Oreal heiress in 2017 when her mother Liliane Bettencourt, then the world’s richest woman and one of the richest people in the world, died at age 94. Bettencourt Meyers also serves as the president of her family’s philanthropic foundation, which encourages French progress in the sciences and arts. Together, L’Oreal and the Bettencourt Meyers family agreed to donate $226 million to repair the Notre Dame cathedral following the April 2019 fire.

Zhong Shanshan

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: CNN

Net worth: $68.8 B

Industry: Food and Beverage

Profile: Zhong Shanshan chairs Nongfu Spring, a bottled water company, which listed its shares in Hong Kong in September 2020. Hangzhou-born Zhong dropped out of elementary school during China’s chaotic Cultural Revolution. He later had jobs as a construction worker, a newspaper reporter, and a beverage sales agent before starting his own business. Zhong also controls Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy, which went public on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in April 2020.

Steve Ballmer

Photo: Rick Dahms via Forbes

Net worth: $68.7 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: Steve Ballmer is the high-wattage former CEO of Microsoft, who led the company from 2000 to 2014. He joined Microsoft in 1980 as employee No. 30 after dropping out of Stanford’s MBA program. Ballmer oversaw Microsoft at a difficult time, after the first dot-com crash and through efforts to catch Google in search and Apple in mobile phones. The same year he retired from Microsoft he bought the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. He has ramped up his philanthropy since 2014, putting over $2 billion into a donor-advised fund, with a focus on lifting Americans out of poverty. In 2018, he invested $59 million in Social Solutions, which makes software for nonprofits and government agencies.

Ma Huateng

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Visual China Group/GettyImages via Forbes

Net worth: $65.8 B

Industry: Technology

Profile: Ma Huateng also known as Pony Ma chairs Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, which ranks among the nation’s largest businesses by market cap. Tencent’s popular social messaging app WeChat has more than 1 billion users. The group listed its music-streaming subsidiary, Tencent Music, on the New York Stock Exchange in December 2018. In contrast to his outgoing rival at Alibaba, Ma has a low-profile style that befits his engineering background. Ma co-founded Tencent in 1998.

Carlos Slim Helú and Family

Photo: Wikipedia

Net worth: $62.8 B

Industry: Telecom

Profile: Mexico’s richest man, and one of the richest people in the world, Carlos Slim Helú, and his family control America Movil, Latin America’s biggest mobile telecom firm. With foreign telecom partners, Slim bought a stake in Telmex, Mexico’s only phone company, in 1990. Telmex is now part of America Movil. He also owns stakes in Mexican construction, consumer goods, mining, and real estate companies and 17% of The New York Times. His son-in-law Fernando Romero designed the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, home to Slim’s extensive, eclectic art collection.

Alice Walton

Photo: Rick T. Wilking/GettyImages via businessinsider.com

Net worth: $61.8 B

Industry: Fashion and Retail

Profile: Alice Walton is the only daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. She has focused on curating art, rather than working for Walmart like her siblings, Rob and Jim. In 2011, she opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in her hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. Crystal Bridges features works from the likes of Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, and Mark Rothko. Also, in January 2020, she took aim at America’s “broken” healthcare system and unveiled plans to open a holistic health institute in Bentonville.

Jim Walton

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Rick T. Wilking/GettyImages via Forbes

Net worth: $60.2 B

Industry: Fashion and Retail

Profile: Jim Walton is the youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. He is chairman of the family’s Arvest Bank, which today boasts assets of more than $20 billion. Jim sat on Walmart’s board for more than a decade before yielding the seat to his son, Steuart, in June 2016. Collectively, he and other heirs of Sam Walton own about half of Walmart’s stock. Jim and sister Alice are spearheading a program that will issue $300 million in bonds to help charter schools invest in facilities.

Rob Walton

Photo: Walmart via Forbes

Net worth: $59.5 B

Industry: Fashion and Retail

Profile: Rob Walton is the eldest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Walton took over as chairman upon his father’s death in 1992. He retired as chairman in June 2015 and was replaced by his son-in-law, Greg Penner. However, he still sits on Walmart’s board. He and other heirs of Sam Walton collectively own about half of Walmart’s stock. To keep up with demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart hired an additional 400,000 mostly temporary workers.

Michael Bloomberg

Forbes richest people in the world 2021

Photo: Wikipedia

Net worth: $59 B

Industry: Media and Entertainment

Profile: Michael Bloomberg, one of the richest people in the world, cofounded financial information and media company Bloomberg LP in 1981. He put in the seed funding for the company and now owns 88% of the business, which has revenues north of $10 billion. Bloomberg got his start on Wall Street in 1966 with an entry-level job at investment bank Salomon Brothers. He was fired 15 years later. A major philanthropist, he has donated more than $5 billion to gun control, climate change, and other causes. He announced a run for president in November 2019 (but dropped out in March 2020) and had spent hundreds of millions to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. The mayor of New York City for 12 years, Bloomberg is one of just four individuals to have served that long.

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