World’s top 20 self-made billionaires
As the saying goes, some people are born with silver spoons in their mouths, but not all are born with all the advantages, however, this does not mean that they never gets a taste of that. While this advantageous “silver spoon” factor has determined the course of many millionaires’ life, there a few super rich whose stories of not-so-sudden success compels us to look into their lives before they were billionaires. So, here’s a list of 20 of the world’s richest men, who were born poor.
1. Bill Gates
Net worth: $53 Billion
William Henry “Bill” Gates III is an American business magnate, philanthropist, and popularly known as chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. His family was upper middle class; his father was a prominent lawyer, his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. Early on in his life, Gates’ parents had a law career in mind for him.
2. Lakshmi Mittal
Net Worth: $28.7 billion
The CEO and founder of ArcelorMittal, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal was born on June 15, 1950 at Sadulpur, in Churu district of Rajasthan, in a poor family. Laxmi Mittal belongs to Marwari Aggarwal caste and his grandfather worked for the Tarachand Ghanshyam Das firm, one of the leading Marwari industrial firms of pre-independence India. Laxmi Mittal lived with the extended family of 20 members on bare concrete floors, slept on rope beds and cooked on an open fire in the brickyard in a house built by his grandfather.
3. Larry Ellison
Net Worth: $27 billion
He was adopted by a middle class family in Chicago nine months after he was born to an unwed Jewish lady. Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation was a bright student, showed a good aptitude for math and science. But he left the University of Illinois at the end of his second year, after his mother died.
He later studied computer designing. He moved to California, where he did several odd jobs for about eight years. Finally, as a programmer at Ampex, he participated in building the first IBM-compatible mainframe system. In 1977, Ellison and two of his Ampex colleagues, Robert Miner and Ed Oates, founded their own company, Software Development Labs, with just $1400 from his savings. The company was later renamed Oracle Corporation.
He is currently listed on the Forbes list of billionaires as the fourth richest person in the world. Ellison is the third richest American, the 65-year old Ellison is known for his extravagant lifestyle, races sailboats and flies planes.
4. Amancio Ortega Gaona
Net Worth: $25 Billion
Amancio Ortega Gaona is a Spanish fashion entrepreneur. Ranked by Forbes as Spain’s richest man and the 10th richest man in the World in 2009. He is the founder, with his then-wife Rosalía Mera, and chairman of the Inditex Group. He currently lives with his second wife in a discreet apartment building in the center of A Coruña. Ortega arrived at A Coruña, Spain, at the age of 14, due to the job of his father, a railway worker. Starting as a gofer in various shirt stores in A Coruña, Galicia, he founded Confecciones Goa, which made bathrobes, but in 1975 he opened the first store in what would grow into the enormously popular chain of fashion stores called Zara.
5. Karl Albrecht
Net Worth: $23.5 billion
Karl and Theo Albrecht were raised in modest circumstances in Essen. Their father was employed as a miner and later as a baker’s assistant. Their mother had a small grocery store in the worker’s quarter of Schonnebeck. Theo completed an apprenticeship in his mother’s store, while Karl worked in a delicatessen shop. Karl also served in the German Army during World War II. After the end of World War II, the brothers took over their mother’s business (1946). The first Aldi (Albrecht-Discount) was opened in 1961.
6. Ingvar Kamprad
Net Worth: $23 Billion
Ingvar Feodor Kamprad is a Swedish entrepreneur who is the founder of the home furnishing retail chain IKEA. As of 2010, he is the eleventh wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of around $23 billion in 2010. Kamprad began to develop a business as a young boy, selling matches to neighbors from his bicycle. He found that he could buy matches in bulk very cheaply from Stockholm, sell them individually at a low price, and still make a good profit. From matches, he expanded to selling fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds and later ballpoint pens and pencils. When Kamprad was 17, his father gave him a cash reward for succeeding in his studies. He used that money to establish what has grown into IKEA.
7. Roman Abramovich
Net Worth: $18.8 billion
Started his multi-billion-dollar business during his army service where he sold stolen gasoline to some of the commissioned officers of his unit. Also worked as a street-trader and then as a mechanic at a local factory. But it all got going for him by 1996, at the age of 30, Abramovich had become so rich and politically well-connected that he had become close to President Boris Yeltsin, and had moved into an apartment in the Kremlin at the invitation of the Yeltsin family. In 1999, and now a tycoon, Abramovich was elected governor of Russia’s remote, far eastern province of Chukotka, and has since lavished £112 million (€ 132 million) on charity to rebuild the impoverished region.
8. Mikhail Prokhorov
Net Worth: $9.5 billion
Mikhail Prokhorov is a self-made Russian billionaire entrepreneur. After graduating from the Moscow Finance Institute, he made his name in the financial sector and went on to become one of Russia’s leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While he was running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. He is currently the chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest gold producer, and President of Onexim Group. Prokhorov is currently the richest man in Russia and the 40th richest man in the world according to the 2009 Forbes list.
9. Sheldon Adelson
Net Worth: $9Billion
Sheldon Gary Adelson is an American businessman. He is a property developer and public company CEO based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Born to Jewish parents, Adelson grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, a rough-and-tumble section of Boston, where his father drove a taxicab. He worked at a young age selling newspapers on local street corners and owned his first business by the time he was 12. In the years that followed, he worked as a mortgage broker, investment adviser and financial consultant. He started a business selling toiletry kits, and in the 1960s he started a charter tours business with two friends. He went to college at City College of New York but did not complete a degree there.
10. Steven Jobs
Net Worth: $5.5 Billion
Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs is an American businessman, and the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Jobs previously served as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios and is now a member of the Walt Disney Company’s Board of Directors. Jobs was born in San Francisco and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California who named him Steven Paul. Paul and Clara later adopted a daughter, who they named Patty. Steve grew up in the apricot orchards which later became known as Silicon Valley, and still lives there with his family.
11. Kirk Kerkorian
Net Worth: $5 billion
Kerkor “Kirk” Kerkorian is the Armenian-American president/CEO of Tracinda Corporation, his private holding company based in Beverly Hills, California. Kerkorian is known as one of the important figures in shaping the city of Las Vegas, Nevada and, with architect Martin Stern, Jr. the “father of the megaresort.” He worked hard, taking up many odd jobs to help his poor parents. He became an amateur boxer under the tutelage of his older brother Nish, a boxer. At 17, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. When he was 25 he joined the Morton Air Academy where he rose to the rank of a lieutenant and became an army flight instructor. During World War II Kirk flew daredevil missions across the Atlantic for the Royal Air Force. He then started a plane charter service. He took it public in 1965. In 1968 he sold out to the TransAmerica Corporation. Kerkorian got about $85 million worth of stock in the TransAmerica conglomerate.In 1973 he acquired MGM, the famous movie studio, and opened the MGM Grand Hotel, which was the largest hotel in the world at that time.
12. Mark Zuckerberg
Net Worth: $4 Billion
Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American entrepreneur best known for co-founding the popular social networking site Facebook. Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook with fellow classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while attending Harvard. Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York to a Jewish family and raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He started programming when he was in middle school. Early on, Zuckerberg enjoyed developing computer programs, especially communication tools and games. Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase a music player named Synapse developed by Zuckerberg and recruit him, but he decided to attend Harvard University instead, where he joined Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity.
13. Howard Schultz
Net Worth: $1.1 billion
A successful entrepreneur, 56-year old Howard Schultz, chairman and CEO Starbucks in his younger days was determined to win the battle over poverty. Howard Schultz was born in Brooklyn, New York, growing up in the Canarsie Bayview Housing Projects. Schultz was poor growing up, so to escape the thoughts of being poor, he turned to sports such as baseball, football and basketball. He went to Canarsie High School and became the first person to graduate in his family. Schultz’s inspiring journey started when he went to Seattle to check out a popular coffee bean store called Starbucks, which was buying many of the Hammarplast Swedish drip coffeemakers he sold. He finally joined the company and was promoted as head of marketing and operations in 1982. But he parted ways as the owners refused to accept his plans of offering coffee in stores or diversifying into restaurants. Schultz went ahead and started his own coffee-bar business, called Il Giornale. Interestingly, a year later Schultz bought Starbucks for $3.8 million. As CEO of Starbucks in 2008, Schultz earned a total compensation of $9,740,471, which included a base salary of $1,190,000.
14. Ed Liddy
Net Worth: N/A
Ed Liddy, former chief executive officer of American International Group (AIG) had to face lot of hardships before he rose to great heights. Ed Liddy’s father died when he was just 12 years old. According to a BusinessWeek report, he had a poverty-stricken childhood. Liddy graduated from Catholic University of America in 1968 and received a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University in 1972. He worked with Ford Motor before joining G D Searle & Co in 1981.
The 63-year old Liddy earned about $130 million during his eight-year tenure at Allstate. In the wake of the financial crisis, Ed Liddy came to rescue the ailing AIG, worked for a salary of $1. But the act turned disastrous when the company handed out employee bonuses totaling $165 million after it had accepted $170 billion in government bailout funds. This forced him to quit AIG.
15. Ursula Burns
Net Worth: N/A
Ursula M. Burns became the first black lady to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in July 2009. The 51-year-old Burns started her career as an engineering intern in 1980. Burns led several business teams including the office color and fax business and office network printing business. In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to include the company’s IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing and global accounts. Burns ranked 10th in the Fortune list of 50 Most Powerful Women in America. Her salary package for 2008 stood at $887,500, but total compensation stood at a whopping $6,003,126. In an interview with the New York Times, she described growing up poor with “lots of Jewish immigrants, fewer Hispanics and African-Americans, but the great equalizer was poverty.” Burns’ mother used to run a home day care center.
16. Lloyd Blankfein
Net Worth: N/A
The 55-year old Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs is today one of the richest executives in the world. Blankfein started his career as a corporate tax lawyer for the law firm Donovan, Leisure, Newton Irvine. Blankfein was born in to a Jewish family in the Bronx, New York City and raised in Brooklyn’s Linden Houses, part of the New York City Housing Authority. His father was a clerk with the Postal Service in Manhattan. In 1981, he joined Goldman’s commodities trading arm, J Aron, as a precious metals salesman in their London office. Blankfein hit the headlines recently when he apologized for Goldman’s role in the financial crisis, saying that the bank “participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.” Lloyd’s total compensation in the last fiscal stood at $25.84 million.
17. Frank Stronach
Net Worth: $661 million
Frank Stronach is an Austrian-Canadian businessman. He is the founder of Magna International, an international automotive parts company based in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and Magna Entertainment Corp., which specializes in horse-racing entertainment. Born as Franz Strohsack in the small town of Kleinsemmering, Styria, Austria to working-class parents, Stronach’s childhood was marked by the Great Depression and the Second World War. At the age of 14, he left school to apprentice as a tool and die maker. In 1954, he arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and later moved to the province of Ontario. He currently resides in Oberwaltersdorf, Austria and Aurora, Ontario. Magna International is today a global automotive empire with 326 manufacturing plants, engineering centers and sales offices across North America, South America, Asia and Europe that employ about 82,000 people.
18. Ken Langone
Net Worth: N/A
Sir Kenneth Langone is a venture capitalist, investment banker and financial backer of The Home Depot, and a former director of the New York Stock Exchange. He was elected as director of Yum! and is a member of the Audit Committee. Langone holds an M.B.A. from and is also a trustee of New York University. His father was a plumber and his mother worked in a cafeteria. His parents had to mortgage their house to send Langone to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. An ambitious and optimistic Langone worked as a ditch digger and a butcher’s assistant to make money while studying. As an investment banker and entrepreneur, his business record highlights the values of persistence and sound business principles. His total compensation as director of Home Depot in 2008 stood at $1,136,219.
19. Ken Lewis
Net Worth: N/A
The high profile chairman of Bank of America, Ken Lewis worked his way through Georgia State University as an accountant and an airline ticket-agent, graduating with a finance degree in 1969. He worked as a credit analyst at North Carolina National Bank. The bank was eventually taken over by Bank of America. He became Bank of America’s chief operating officer in 1999 and chairman in 2005. In April, the Bank of America shareholders voted to separate the positions of Chairman of the Board and CEO, effectively removing CEO 61-year old Lewis from his position as Chairman of the Board of BofA, though he remained both the bank’s president and its CEO due to the shareholders’ resentment over the takeover of Merrill Lynch for $50 billion. The Securities and Exchange Commission and New York’s Attorney General are investigating whether Lewis misled Bank of America shareholders before the Merrill Lynch acquisition. Merrill has paid out billions in bonuses to its staff that were allegedly not fully disclosed. His annual compensation in 2008 fiscal year stood at $1,500,000.
20. Angelo R Mozilo
Net Worth: N/A
Angelo R. Mozilo was the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Countrywide Financial until July 1, 2008. Mozilo was born in New York City, the son of a Bronx butcher. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University in 1960. In 1969, he and his former mentor David S. Loeb, who had already started a mortgage lending company, founded Countrywide Credit Industries in New York. They later moved the headquarters to Calabasas, California in Los Angeles County. Mozilo and Loeb also cofounded IndyMac Bank, which was founded as Countrywide Mortgage Investment, before being spun off as an independent bank in 1997. IndyMac collapsed and was seized by federal regulators on July 11, 2008. Condé Nast Portfolio ranked Mozilo second on their list of “Worst American CEOs of All Time and CNN named Mozilo as one of the “Ten Most Wanted: Culprits” of the 2008 financial collapse in the United States. The Securities and Exchange Commission in June filed civil-fraud charges for “deliberately misleading investors about the significant credit risks being taken in efforts to build and maintain the company’s market share.” Mozilo’s compensation during the housing bubble from 2001-06 is under scrutiny. During that period, his total compensation (including salary, bonuses, options and restricted stock) was $470 million.