Comparing The Richest People In The World

What do the richest people in the world have in common, aside from owning suits worth more than your life savings? How is it that some people amass wealth greater than the GDPs of many countries? Does it come from hard work, frugality, and good business sense? Are they all eccentric geniuses with unique approaches to work and life? Were they simply born rich to begin with?

The question "How do I make enough money to buy a yacht with its own zip code?" is not so easily answered, but who said we can't take a look at those who've climbed to the top of the financial world? The following multibillionaires, as of this writing, are the wealthiest people on the planet, as pegged by Forbes. As with any group of people, they have varied backstories, careers, and personalities. One thing is certain, though: These people have incomprehensible amounts of money at their disposal. Here are the richest people in the world.

Mike Bloomberg (net worth: $64B)

Mike Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and noted nemesis of soft drinks, has enough wealth to rent a typical Manhattan studio apartment (per Business Insider) for about 2,000 years. He began life in Massachusetts on Valentine's Day in 1942. Encyclopedia Britannica has the details of his early years. Bloomberg, son of a bookkeeper and a secretary, made his way through Johns Hopkins before graduating from Harvard with an MBA in 1966. His first position out of grad school was with investment bank Salomon Brothers. As Biography notes, he'd made partner by 1972.

In 1981, Salomon Brothers was gobbled up by another firm, leaving Bloomberg unemployed ... with $10 million in buyout money. Known for his competitive nature, he used that money to start a financial data services firm the next year. The business, Bloomberg LP, proved wildly successful over the ensuing years and branched out into media. (You may have heard of Bloomberg News.) Bloomberg, fabulously rich, became known both for his philanthropy and for his reportedly tyrannical behavior toward those working under him.

Not content to sit still, he also served three terms as mayor of New York and was reportedly worth $4.5 billion when he first ran in 2001. Bloomberg's third term notably required a change in city law so he could run. He went back to being CEO of Bloomberg LP after his mayorship. Depending how the next few months go, he might become president, too, but don't count your chickens.

Sergey Brin (net worth: $66B)

Sergey Brin, the thrill-seeking co-founder of Google, started out in Russia. Born in Moscow in 1973, he and his family fled to the United States in 1979 to escape anti-Jewish persecution, an experience that left Brin with an appreciation for the freedoms enjoyed in the U.S. During a trip back to Russia, Brin, then 17, threw pebbles at an occupied police car, an act that nearly landed him in major trouble, according to Business Insider.

After getting his baccalaureate, Brin set off for Stanford, seeking a doctorate in computer science. In 1995, he met fellow grad student Larry Page. The two are said to have found each other annoying at first, but nonetheless collaborated on research projects. One such effort was a search engine programmed to sort the results by popularity, the idea being that the most popular result is probably the most useful. As Biography tells it, the name "Google" references the number googol, aka a "1" followed by 100 zeros.

Google, of course, is now a massive company. During Brin's time as president of Google (and later its parent company, Alphabet), he did anything but embody the stereotypical image of a billionaire. Employees recall their gym-dressed president barreling down the halls in roller blades and once doing a job interview while dressed as a cow. Brin stepped down as president of Alphabet in 2019.

Steve Ballmer (net worth: $67B)

Steve Ballmer is a smart dude, as CNBC can tell you. In high school, he was valedictorian. If that wasn't enough, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard. With that kind of academic muscle, is it any surprise that he decided to go to Stanford for his MBA? Probably not, but then he decided to drop out of the program in 1980, according to Forbes. A classmate of his from Harvard, Bill Gates, had started a tech company called Micro-Soft. Despite his parents being unfamiliar with the word "software" and wondering why the average person would ever need a computer, Ballmer left school to work for Gates.

In the beginning, Ballmer essentially acted as Gates' assistant, being paid a pretty pedestrian $50,000 a year. He proved instrumental in getting IBM to use Microsoft products on their computers in the 1980s. As Ballmer himself tells it, he became the point man in the IBM negotiations because he knew how to wear a tie. He became CEO of Microsoft in 2000 after Gates stepped down. Ballmer would remain in the position until 2014.

Ballmer has displayed some eccentric behaviors. Wall Street Insanity details a number of conferences and company functions he has livened up. His most famous escapade is likely the ridiculously enthusiastic "monkey dance" he performed onstage during Microsoft's 25th anniversary celebration in 2000.

Larry Page (net worth: $68B)

A Stanford grad student who went on to become a tech god, Larry Page is the other co-founder of Google, the world's greatest popularity contest. According to Biography's account of Page's childhood, he was born in Michigan in 1973 and grew up in a computer-friendly household. At a time when most people's parents had no desire to own a computer, Page's father was considered an expert on the subject, and his mother taught people how to program.

Larry Page met Sergey Brin at Stanford, and the two had their own company by 1998, with Page serving as CEO. He and Brin became billionaires following Google's IPO in 2004. After creating Alphabet with Brin in order to manage Google and its subsidiaries in 2015, Page acted as its CEO as he had at Google. Like Brin, he stepped down in 2019. Serving as CEO of Alphabet granted Page more time to work on other projects, such as Kitty Hawk, which manufactures electrically powered personal air vehicles. One of the company's goals is to create a self-flying air taxi, and they hope to have a network of such vehicles operational in the 2020s.

Carlos Slim Helu (net worth: $69B)

Carlos Slim Helú (also referred to simply as Carlos Slim) was born into easier circumstances than some, but he also has his own business decisions to thank for his billionaire status. As detailed by Encyclopedia Britannica, Slim was born in Mexico City in 1940 to Lebanese Christian immigrants. His father, a successful businessman in his own right, taught him about investing during his childhood. By the time he was in his mid-twenties, he was investing in a wide array of businesses and founding his own, all of which would become the foundation for Grupo Carso, Slim's conglomerate.

Per Business Insider, a key component of Slim's moneymaking strategy has been to buy floundering companies, build their value, and then sell his stake in them. He did that quite a bit during Mexico's debt crisis in 1982 and became a billionaire. Slim has a hand in so many Mexican companies that some call the country "Slimlandia," and one of his greatest sources of wealth is his control over América Móvil, the largest mobile phone business in Latin America.

Despite having been the richest person in the entire world at one time (passing Bill Gates in 2010), Slim is not one for ostentatiousness. He doesn't own any private planes or yachts, and although he could easily afford a much larger residence, he has lived in the same six-bedroom house since the 1970s.

Larry Ellison (net worth: $70B)

Born in New York City in 1944, Larry Ellison spent most of his childhood living in Chicago's South Side with his aunt and uncle. Ellison got along well with his aunt, but according to Encyclopedia Britannica, his uncle frequently berated him as being good for nothing. Ellison dropped out of college not once but twice during the 1960s before eventually setting off for California. Per Business Insider, Ellison taught himself computer programming. When he began to work for a company called Ampex in 1973, he'd never taken a single computer class. Fast-forward two years, and Ellison, along with two Ampex coworkers, started their own business. In 1979, they released Oracle, a database management program. As a marketing ploy, the first version was called Oracle Version 2. Widely used today, Oracle made Ellison a billionaire.

Ellison has drawn criticism for his lavish displays of wealth. He owns several mansions and collects both cars and private jets. Ellison also owns 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai, which he bought for $300 million. He's especially fond of yachts and has owned a number of them. (Having a whole island for docking them probably helps.) The largest of the luxury vessels Ellison has owned was over 450 feet long. On the other hand, Ellison has also donated hundreds of millions of dollars to various charities.

Amancio Ortega (net worth: $77B)

Amancio Ortega, born in 1936, is a reclusive clothing magnate who comes from humble roots. As Encyclopedia Britannica tells it, Ortega's first brush with fashion came during his youth in A Coruña, Spain, where he worked as a tailor's assistant and also delivered shirts for a ritzy men's clothing store. Later, he managed his own expensive attire emporium. During this period, Ortega had ideas about catering to a greater chunk of the market by offering cheaper clothes, manufactured more economically and efficiently. He started a bathrobe business in 1963 to prove the strategy.

A major milestone came in 1975 when Ortega opened a clothing store called Zara, operating on the idea of fast fashion. They kept a close eye on trends, manufacturing popular styles quickly and getting them on the sales floor far ahead of other businesses. Zara became a successful chain, and in 1985, Ortega started Inditex, Zara's parent company. Today, Inditex controls thousands of stores around the world. Despite his success, Ortega is a very low-key billionaire, per the International Business Times, and very rarely gives interviews. When Inditex went public in 2001, Ortega was still eating in the company cafeteria, despite his net worth shooting up $6 billion that day. Ortega also reportedly refuses to wear ties and isn't particularly fond of wearing Zara clothing, either.

Mark Zuckerberg (net worth: $80B)

Never underestimate the power of being able to show your former high school bullies how far you've come. To be fair, Facebook fulfills many other functions, and its co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is a billionaire for it. Biography notes that Zuckerberg had an interest in computers throughout his childhood. While still a high school student, he created a music program that both AOL and Microsoft expressed interest in buying. They also wanted to hire him then and there, but Zuckerberg enrolled in Harvard in 2002. In a Harvard dorm room, Facebook was born.

By 2004, Zuckerberg had dropped out of college and moved his new company to California. Facebook went through many permutations as it grew, shifting over the years from a drunken party pic repository for mid-2000s college students to its current gig as the home of baby pictures and conspiracy theories. There've been a few bumps in the road, such as Zuckerberg having to settle with the creators of a Harvard dating site for stealing some of their ideas and, of course, the Cambridge Analytica and Russian interference scandals during the 2016 election.

All the same, Facebook isn't going anywhere anytime soon and Zuckerberg is one of the youngest billionaires in the world. He has also announced plans to launch his own cryptocurrency, Libra, in 2020. Aside from Facebook and cryptocurrency, Zuckerberg has engaged in a number of "personal challenges," such as learning Mandarin and only eating the meat of animals he personally kills, as detailed by Huffington Post.

Warren Buffett (net worth: $90B)

Simply put, Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors ever, such that he has been called the "Oracle of Omaha." The son of a Nebraska congressman, Buffett was born in 1930. Forbes points out that he bought his first stock at age 11, which is a pretty privileged way to start off life. In 1965, he took majority control over a textile business called Berkshire Hathaway. However, Buffett was more interested in investment than stamping out shirts.

Over the coming decades, the growth of Berkshire Hathaway's stock value far outstripped that of other companies' stocks. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the mortgage crisis of 2007-08 didn't stop Buffett. Both he and Berkshire Hathaway purchased billions of stock in various companies and ultimately turned quite a profit. Today, Berkshire Hathaway controls dozens of companies, including big names like Dairy Queen and Geico, and Buffett is still its CEO.

Buffett has been noted for his extreme philanthropy, having pledged to donate a full 99% of his wealth. One of the main beneficiaries has been the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to which he has donated billions of dollars. Buffett is also almost unbelievably frugal — no yachts or Hawaiian islands for him. As CNBC reports, he uses coupons, will not spend more than $3.17 on breakfast, and has lived in the same house since 1958. The house was worth a mere $260,000 in 2017.

Bernard Arnault (net worth: $107B)

Bernard Arnault is a juggernaut of luxury, but he started out in construction. Per Business Insider, he was born in France in 1949, and his father ran a civil engineering and construction business. Consequently, Arnault studied engineering in college before taking a job at his father's company. He eventually convinced his father to focus on real estate. Arnault himself began buying other businesses. Today, he is the CEO and chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, or simply LVMH, the world's largest luxury goods manufacturer. LVMH owns companies such as Louis Vuitton (obviously), Christian Dior, Dom Pérignon, and Tiffany and Co.

As the International Business Times reports, Arnault's business practices have been the subject of criticism. His restructuring of the businesses he's bought has left many unemployed, as has his outsourcing of manufacturing. He has also stirred controversy by expressing a desire for dual French-Belgian nationality, a move many see as an effort to dodge taxes. Arnault stands out among other billionaires for how rapidly his wealth has grown. His net worth shot up by over $31.4 billion in 2019. He passed Warren Buffett in March of that year and was briefly ahead of Bill Gates as well. In October 2019, he managed to make $5.1 billion in only 48 hours. Ahh, the stock market.

Bill Gates (net worth: $113B)

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft who makes hundreds of dollars a second, was interested in computers from an early age. In high school, Gates developed a scheduling program for his school. Celebrity Net Worth reports that he also used this opportunity to make sure he was in the same classes as girls he liked. When Gates was 15, he and friend Paul Allen created Traf-o-Data, a program that monitored traffic patterns in their home city of Seattle. They made $20,000.

In 1973, Gates went to Harvard, studying to become a lawyer like his father, but he retained his interest in computers. According to Biography, Gates was contacted by Allen in 1975. Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, a small company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, had hired Allen after he demonstrated a program that he and Gates had written. Gates, like any true tech giant, dropped out of Harvard and went into business. He and Allen founded Micro-Soft (soon to lose the hyphen) the same year.

Microsoft, obviously, was pretty successful, and Gates was the richest person in the world for 13 years. Like other massively wealthy individuals, he has displayed some eccentric behaviors. He is said to have been so addicted to the game Minesweeper that he had to remove it from his computer in order to get work done. Gates reportedly insists on doing the dishes every night at home, as he finds the activity relaxing.

Jeff Bezos (net worth: $131B)

Jeff Bezos was born in Albuquerque, future birthplace of Microsoft, in 1964. As told by Biography, he graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in 1986 and went to work on Wall Street. He saw success there, becoming D.E. Shaw's youngest vice president in 1990. But if there's one thing that billionaires seem to be good at, it's dumping lucrative careers for even better ones.

Bezos left Wall Street in 1994 and moved to Seattle. In 1995, he launched an online bookstore,, from his house. Inside a month, he was selling books to buyers across the world. Eventually, Bezos expanded to selling a greater variety of products, and his revenue only grew. Bezos ended up the richest man in the world.

It's hard to grasp the kind of wealth Bezos controls. He has been estimated to make over $2,400 a second. As pegged by Sapling, it would take a worker making the U.S. minimum wage about two months to make that amount. Bezos' 2019 divorce left his ex-wife in the vicinity of Elon Musk and Charles Koch in terms of wealth, per Forbes. As a final note, Bezos has more than past locations in common with Bill Gates: Entrepreneur reports that Bezos also always does the dishes and, he believes it to be the sexiest thing he does. Apparently this did not save his marriage.