The World's Richest Tech Billionaires: Familiar Faces As Zuckerberg Drops Down List

By: Forbes Email
By: Forbes Email

(Forbes)-In a year when the members of the Forbes Billionaires List had their combined net worth rise more than 15% since 2012 to $5.4 trillion, the world’s wealthiest technologists underperformed.

In 2012, the top 15 richest individuals in technology amassed a collective net worth of $272.6 billion. This year that group checked in with a sum of $295.2 billion, up 8%. Eleven members experienced year-over-year increases in their fortunes while four fell.

Among those with lighter pockets is Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Last year when Forbes valued his fortune, Facebook was still a hot private company with all the buzz and anticipation of a potential initial public offering in its future. Things didn’t turn out quite that way, as the stock tumbled along since its May 2012 IPO. It is now far from its sub-$20 price point, which it hit in August, but still not back up to the original $38 offering price. As a result, the hoodie-wearing 28-year-old’s net worth fell $4.2 billion from 2012′s $17.5 billion valuation, dropping him 31 places on this year’s list to No. 66 out of 1,426 billionaires. Among the wealthiest in tech, Zuckerberg falls from the sixth richest individual to the ninth.

Other losers in the tech spectrum included Michael Dell and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Down $600 million due to his eponymous hardware company’s performance–its stock is down about 24% year-over-year since mid February–Dell seems to have had enough of the public markets. In February, the company announced CEO Dell’s intentions to take the company private in a leveraged buy-out with private equity firm Silver Lake. The markets have not been kind to Ballmer either, with a 7% year-over-year drop of Microsoft’s stock prices largely responsible for the its CEO’s fortune dropping $500 million since last year. He is now worth $15.2 billion.

Indian IT billionaire Azim Premji rounds out the top tech losers, but in part because the Wipro chairman gifted $2.3 billion worth of company shares to his education-focused foundation. Down from $15.9 billion from last year to a net worth of $11.2 billion, the remaining difference is made up by Wipro’s slumping shares.

Oracle’s Larry Ellison is the biggest net gainer this year in the technology industry. He boosted his fortune by $7 billion to $43 billion thanks to a 20% bump over the past year in his company’s stock. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos was another big gainer, adding $6.8 billion to his coffers and taking the bronze in the richest technologist competition with a net worth of $25.2 billion. He is among the world’s top 20 richest for the first time since 1999. Google’s stock climbed nearly 30%, boosting the fortunes of its co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and putting Page in the top 20, a first ever for him. Bill Gates, still the wealthiest man in technology, improved his place on the scorecard by $6 billion–no thanks to his Microsoft holding–and is now worth $67 billion as the world’s second richest individual.

For all the movement on tech rankings, there is only one new, or rather, returning, face to the top 15. EBay’s Pierre Omidyar, surges back into contention with a $2 billion improvement in his net worth to $8.7 billion. He replaces Baidu’s Robin Li, whose $6.9 billion fortune is a far cry from the $10.2 billion he was valued at in 2012. Laurene Powell Jobs, the wife of the late Steve Jobs, still remains the only woman among the group and retains her label as “Silicon Valley’s Richest Woman” with a fortune of $10.7 billion.

In 2013, 95 of the billionaire list’s 1,426 members (a new record) were from technology-related companies. Only the finance/investment sector (with 148 individuals) and the diversified category (with 135 individuals) were better represented.


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