W Power 2024

The creamy layer: Meet the 20 richest people on the planet

The price of admission to this club is $39 billion this year

Published: Apr 10, 2018 11:44:30 AM IST

The creamy layer: Meet the 20 richest people on the planet
Jeff Bezos, ceo, Amazon
Image: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

The very wealthiest people on the planet are worth a staggering $1.2 trillion—a sum roughly equivalent to the annual economic output of Mexico. In aggregate, their riches represent 13 percent of the total fortune of all 2,208 billionaires worldwide. The minimum figure for admission to this august club: $39 billion, up by 28 percent from $30.4 billion a year ago.

1. Jeff Bezos
$112 billion 

The richest person on Earth, Amazon’s chief is the first centibillionaire atop our annual ranking. Shares of his ecommerce colossus rose by 59% in 12 months, helping lift his fortune by $39.2 billion, the biggest one-year gain ever recorded. (The $27.6 billion increase he logged in 2017 ranks third.) Bezos also owns the Washington Post and aerospace firm Blue Origin.

2. Bill Gates
$90 billion 

Cedes the top spot for only the sixth time since 1995. The Microsoft co-founder’s net worth rose by $4 billion in the past year, but that was no match for Bezos’s epic increase.

3. Warren Buffett
$84 billion

In January, the octogenarian promoted two Berkshire Hathaway executives to vice chairman roles—a step toward a much-anticipated succession plan. Buffett, who says he’s in “remarkably good health”, continues to run Berkshire, whose stock is up by 16% since last year.  

4. Bernard Arnault
$72 billion

Record results at his luxury empire LVMH and a deal to buy out nearly all of Christian Dior helped boost Arnault’s fortune by $30.5 billion.  

5. Mark Zuckerberg
$71 billion 

Facebook’s CEO faces pressure over his social media giant’s role in Russia’s election meddling. Still, the company’s shares rose by 32% in the past year, adding $15 billion to his net worth. 
The creamy layer: Meet the 20 richest people on the planet
Illustration: Michael Witte

6. Amancio Ortega
$70 billion

Most of his fortune is tied up in Inditex, best known for fashion chain Zara. Its shares have sagged, helping knock $1.3 billion off his net worth.

7. Carlos Sslim Helu
$67.1 billion

Slim is worth $12.6 billion more than a year ago, due mostly to a 39% jump in the stock of his telecom firm, América Móvil.  

8 (Tie) Charles Koch
$60 billion

In November, his $100 billion (sales) Koch Industries launched Koch Disruptive Technologies, a venture-capital arm run by his son Chase; it has already led a $150 million investment in an Israeli medical-device startup.  

8 (Tie) David Koch
$60 billion
The Koch Industries executive vice president and his brother Charles made news in November when their investment arm put $650 million toward Meredith Corp’s $2.8 billion purchase of struggling magazine publisher Time Inc.

10. Larry Ellison
$58.5 billion
Even as Oracle faces competition from Salesforce and Amazon in the cloud ­market, its stock has risen by 13%. Ellison, who owns about a quarter of the company, is $6.3 billion richer.  

11. Michael Bloomberg
$50 billion

New York City’s former mayor continues to run his financial-information and media firm, Bloomberg LP. A gun-control organisation he backs, meanwhile, is forming a new initiative geared toward students in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

12. Larry Page
$48.8 billion

The Google co-founder, now CEO of its parent, Alphabet, has reportedly been in talks with Saudi Arabia to build a technology hub inside the kingdom. Page’s fortune grew by $8.1 billion over the past year.

13. Sergey Brin
$47.5 billion

Page’s partner as Google’s co-founder is America’s richest immigrant. Now Alphabet’s president, Brin is reportedly spending over $100 million on the world’s largest airship for both personal luxury travel and delivering aid to remote locations.

14. Jim Walton
$46.4 billion

The youngest son of Walmart founder Sam Walton sat on the company’s board until 2016. He runs the family’s regional bank, Arvest.

15. S Robson Walton
$46.2 billion

Sam Walton’s oldest son was Walmart’s chairman for 23 years. He’s now one of three family members still involved in the company; he and Steuart Walton, the son of Jim Walton, sit on its board. His son-in-law Gregory Penner is chairman.

16. Alice Walton
$46 billion

Sam Walton’s only daughter has no role in the family ­business but still holds plenty of Walmart shares, making her the richest woman in the world.

17. Ma Huateng
$45.3 billion

Ma is Asia’s wealthiest person for the first time, thanks in part to his firm Tencent’s ­WeChat, a ubiquitous social-messaging app with nearly 1 billion active users. Tencent also has stakes in Tesla, Snapchat parent Snap and music-streaming service Spotify.

18. Françoise
Bettencourt Meyers
$42.2 billion

Her mother, L’Oréal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, died in September 2017; Bettencourt Meyers and her family inherited the fortune.

19. Mukesh Ambani
$40.1 billion

The Indian tycoon is back in the Top 20 for the first time since 2012.

20. Jack Ma
$39 billion

Ma took ecommerce behemoth Alibaba to new heights in 2017, inking its first Olympic sponsorship and scoring a streaming agreement with Disney. Alibaba’s shares have increased by 76% since last year, boosting him into the  Top 20 for the first time.

(This story appears in the 27 April, 2018 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

Post Your Comment
Required, will not be published
All comments are moderated
5 factors that fuel income inequality
Homegrown designers and artists in spotlight at D/Code