Most of the names on this list are self-made billionaires, people who seemed to defy the odds, and make something out of nothing.
10. Amancio Ortega (net worth $18.3 billion)
Ortega worked in a shirt store in Spain. He started making lingerie and dressing gowns with his wife in their living room. Then they formed a company called Inditex, and now there are over 4,000 stores around the world. Ortega also has a brand of inexpensive fashions, Zara. Ortega has investments in real estate, tourism, gas and banks.
9. Theo Albrecht (net worth $18.8 billion)
Albrecht has the brand rights to the discount grocery store chain Aldi in the north part of Germany and in all of Europe, except Great Britain. Theo and his brother Karl developed the Aldi brand out of their mother’s corner grocery store. Karl has the rights to the Aldi brand in the US, although Theo has also started his own brand Trader Joe’s, which is gaining some inroads in the U.S.
8. Lakshmi Mittal (net worth $19.3 billion)
Mittal is the wealthiest person living in Great Britain. An Indian immigrant, he made a fortune working in his family’s steelmaking business. He then founded his own company, Mittal Steel. With a hostile takeover, the company became ArcelorMittal, and is the largest steel company in the world. He has also diversified into other holdings, such as Macarthur Coal. He sits on the board of Goldman Sachs.
7. Mukesh Ambani (worth around $19.5)
Ambani is the wealthiest person in India. Mukesh Ambani and his brother inherited the conglomerate Reliance, one of the most valuable companies in India from their father. The brothers split some of the company assets over control issues. Ambani merged Reliance Petroleum with Reliance Industries, and plans to buy Chevrons stake in Reliance.
6. Karl Albrecht (net worth $21.5 billion)
Karl is the wealthiest person in Germany. His is brother to Theo Albrecht, and also a very private person. After World War II, Albrect and his brother Theo transformed their mother’s grocery shop into super brand Aldi. Albrecht and his brother divided up ownership of the stores. Albrecht took the rights to the brand for the U.S., U.K. and Australia, as well as the south part of Germany.
5. Ingvar Kamprad (net worth, $22 billion)
A Swedish entrepreneur, he is the force behind the brand Ikea. Kamprad is the child of Swedish farmers. He started by selling selling cards, matches, pens and fish from a bicycle. Learning the advantage of buying in bulk, he soon started selling furniture, and then he opened his own furniture store. He is a simple man, flies economy class and furnishes his home mainly with what Ikea has to offer.
4. Lawrence Ellison (worth $22.5 billion)
He started software giant Oracle. Like Bill Gates, Ellison is a college dropout. He made his money in software design. His database project for the CIA, as part of Ampex Corporation, was called Oracle. He founded his company using only $2,000 of his own, and grew it into one of the industry leaders. Oracle’s focus on database and server technology has allowed it to remain a market leader.
3. Carlos Slim Helú (worth $35 billion)
Carlos Slim Helú is the wealthiest man in Latin America, even after losing $25 billion. He is the son of an immigrant from Lebanon. He studied engineering, and made his money in the telecom industry. He, with a group of investors bought two telephone companies from the Mexican government in 1990. His has holdings in real estate, technology, oil, gas and even in The New York Times Company. His wealth is about 2% of the economic output of Mexico.
2. Warren Buffett (net worth $37 billion)
Even after losing $25 billion, he is the second richest man in the world. He made most of his fortune from textile firm Berkshire Hathaway. His father was a politician in Omaha. When Buffett bought Berkshire, he transitioned it into a holding company. Then he began using it to buy other businesses. Berkshire owns stakes in Geico, Dairy Queen, See’s Candy, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo and other well-known companies.
1. Bill Gates (net worth $40 billion)
Even after losing $18 billion, Bill Gates owns the number one spot. Bill Gates is a self-made billionaire, one of the early disk operating system pioneers who started a software company with some of his peers.
The company became Microsoft. Gates made an agreement with IBM for an operating system for $50,000, but he did not transfer the copyright to IBM, so he continued to make money off the MS-DOS system from other vendors. Gates is now a philanthropic through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.