Tech Billionaires: How They Got There


From a bike tour guide now worth billions
to the titans of e-commerce, let’s look at Tech Billionaires: How They Got There. Number 10. Elon Musk
Known for his somewhat unorthodox work ethic and eccentric pursuits, South African billionaire
Elon Musk is among the most famous tech industry moguls on Earth. Before founding the groundbreaking companies
Tesla and SpaceX, Musk started out in the tech world with the web software company Zip2,
which offered Internet city guides to publications in the news industry. This company sold in 1999, earning Elon 22
million dollars for the 7 percent he owned. Then he would start the company X.com, meant
to be an email payment and financial services company. This company would later merge with Confinity,
which had a new money-transfer service that was about to take off known as PayPal. Once eBay purchased PayPal, Musk received
another major payout, this time for 165 million dollars. From here, he would begin chasing his world-changing
dreams of renewable energy and space travel with the founding of electric car company
Tesla and private rocket business SpaceX. Musk has since continued to expand his horizons,
with businesses dedicated to researching subjects like neurotechnology and artificial intelligence,
garnering a net worth of 19 billion dollars. Number 9. Masayoshi Son
Having founded the Japanese holding conglomerate Softbank, the billionaire businessman also
acts as the current CEO for the bank, CEO for Softbank Mobile, and is a chairman for
Sprint and the U.K.-based Arm Holdings. Though advancing these various corporations
has certainly drawn in a huge profit for the Korean-born chief executive officer, Son first
made much of his wealth from a number of intelligent investments throughout the 1990s. In 1995, he purchased a share of Yahoo! Before investing a 20 million dollar stake
in Alibaba. Much of his investing knowledge was absorbed
from his schooling in America, having moved from Japan to California at the age of 16,
where he finished high school in just 3 weeks before, eventually, studying at the University
of California, Berkeley. He also owns about 80 percent of Sprint and
continues to diversify his investments, bringing his net worth to 22 billion dollars. Number 8. Jack Ma
One of China’s richest businessmen is Alibaba’s Jack Ma. While he sits atop a tech industry-generated
fortune now, Ma spent much of his early years on the grind, working on his English and preparing
for a better life. Working as a tour guide, he would transport
tourists around the area by bike, going on 70-mile-long trips and conversing with foreigners
to practice his English for 9 years straight. It was through one of these connections that
he received the nickname of Jack since they found his birth name of Ma Yun too difficult
to pronounce. From there, Ma would take his shot at college,
but given there was only one entrance exam a year, it took the current business magnate
4 tries, and subsequently 4 years, to get into the Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute. He would eventually graduate as head of student
council with a bachelor’s degree in English before going on to lecture in English and
International trade. He would then go on to try applying for a
number of different jobs, being rejected by at least 30 different occupations, before
learning about the internet in 1994. While visiting with friends in the US, he
found the internet was sorely missing any Chinese representation and quickly realized
it was something to take advantage of. By 1999, Ma began receiving major investments
in the development of Alibaba, a site that specializes in international e-commerce, and
has only grown his business since. Today, the 54-year-old businessman is estimated
to be worth 37 billion dollars. Number 7. Steve Ballmer
Before he took over ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers for an astounding two billion dollars,
Steve Ballmer worked on the Board of Directors and as the CEO of Microsoft. Having dropped out of Stanford’s Graduate
School of Business in 1980, Bill Gates hired him on to come work for the computer company,
working his way up to the position of president by 1998. In 2000, he replaced Gates as CEO, reigning
in a new era for Microsoft that saw mixed results to say the least. His leadership was in the midst of Google’s
rise as a search engine and Apple’s rise in the mobile phone department. As such, Microsoft lost much of the dominance
in the tech industry that they had enjoyed during the prior decade. Still, that isn’t to say they were unsuccessful
under Ballmer as the company would produce double the profits and triple their sales
until he retired as CEO in 2014. Now focused on fundraising for local communities
and collegiate institutions, along with his basketball team, Ballmer has amassed a net
worth of 50 billion dollars. Number 6. Sergey Brin
Born to a mathematics professor and NASA researcher, both graduates of Moscow State University,
Sergey Brin lived in the Soviet Union until the age of 6 when his family immigrated to
America. He would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree
at the University of Maryland, opting to study mathematics like his father and grandfather
before him. From there, he enrolled at Stanford University
with hopes of earning a PhD in computer science alongside his future co-creator Larry Page. Together, the two would begin their development
of a new search engine in future YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s garage. It caught on with students on campus, causing
Brin and Page to suspend their PhD studies in favor of working on what would become Google. Currently, he acts as President of Alphabet
Inc and spends his resources investing in futuristic endeavors like space tourism and
renewable energy and has earned himself a calculated net worth of 51 billion dollars. Number 5. Larry Page
At the helm of the Alphabet Inc. shop, the parent company to search engine heavyweight
Google, is co-founder Larry Page. The internet entrepreneur has served as the
CEO of Google twice before moving to lead Alphabet as the company reorganized. While he and fellow Stanford graduate-turned-business
partner Sergey Brin have developed a number of advancements for Google’s tech, like PageRank,
Google’s search engine algorithm, Page has also proven himself as an intelligent businessman. Investing in efforts like renewable energy
and the electric automotive company Tesla Motors, aligning his financial pursuits with
his own social beliefs. He’s also helped found Singularity University,
a transhumanist corporation that focuses on the education and improvement of scientific
progress. As he continues to work hard at improving
the future, the 46-year-old Page has earned a financial appraisal of 52 billion dollars. Number 4. Larry Ellison
Taking advantage of the growing need for customer relationship management databases in the blossoming
late ’70s tech industry, Larry Ellison founded Oracle. The software firm would rise through the ranks
of competitors until 1990 when it encountered a crisis due to overstating earnings and resulting
class action lawsuits. In the following years, Ellison would lead
the charge against rising competitors like Sybase and Informix. Lingering near the top of his field, the tech
mogul would be recruited to join Apple as a director once Steve Jobs returned to the
company. This would only last for about 5 years, though,
as Ellison wouldn’t have time in his schedule to commit to it. Now though, at the age of 74, he has a much
more diverse schedule of commitments, serving as a board member for Oracle and now Tesla,
of which he purchased 3 million shares! His investments have earned Ellison a current
net worth of 72 billion dollars. Number 3. Mark Zuckerberg
With a life story perhaps more famous than others on this list thanks to the 2010 film
“The Social Network”, many already know Mark Zuckerberg as the mind behind Facebook. The social media giant would first begin software
writing in middle school, having learned Atari BASIC Programming in the 90s from his father
before studying privately under software developer David Newman. One of his first programs was a watered-down
version of AOL’s Instant Messenger called “ZuckNet” which allowed his family to communicate
with each other and the family business via computers. He also spent much of his time designing games
for friends, earning a reputation as a “programming prodigy” of sorts by the time he got to Harvard. Since launching and expanding Facebook, Zuckerberg
has encountered his share of trials and tribulations, ranging from personal lawsuits to being blamed
for the implications of content approved for the site. Even the US Congress has questioned Zuckerberg
in regards to how personal data of its users is utilized. Despite these obstacles, though, he is now
valued at 75 billion dollars! Number 2. Bill Gates
Since founding Microsoft, Bill Gates has risen to prominence as a household name synonymous
with success. Launching the groundbreaking computer company
in the mid 1970s with partner Paul Allen, Gates would work tirelessly in getting the
business off the ground, taking on multiple roles like overseeing the details of the business
side while still writing code. Things changed in 1980 when Microsoft partnered
with IBM to create a new operating system for it’s upcoming personal computer, the IBM
PC. This lead to the development of MS-DOS which
would catapult Gates and his company to the top of the industry. 1985 would see another major revelation from
Microsoft in the form of the Windows operating system, which continues to see updated editions
in mass use by the general public. The business has earned Gates a net worth
of 103 billion dollars and he now serves as a board member of Microsoft, having sold or
given away all but 1% of the company he helped build. Instead, the majority of his time and focus
is spent on philanthropy with he and his wife raising billions through the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation. Number 1. Jeff Bezos
The founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos has made one of the most incredible fortunes
ever known thanks to the groundbreaking website. He believed Amazon would eventually completely
dominate the big-chain physical stores by having a bigger selection and better price. Bezos worked aggressively to grow the company
to get big fast, operating at a loss for years. Bezos said Amazon is a fixed costs business
and knew eventually Amazon would scale big enough to where the revenue coming in would
outweigh the fixed costs of fulfillment centers and computer servers. Over time they could extract more and more
value from these fixed cost assets. He became the richest man in the world in
2017 when his net worth surged to 90 billion dollars and beyond, climbing as high as over
150 billion dollars. With his 2019 divorce, and resulting shares
allocated to his ex-wife MacKenzie, the tech billionaire will see his networth drop significantly. Bezos, continues to strive to increase Amazon’s
competitive advantage, moving to offer free one-day shipping for Amazon Prime customers.

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