More people became billionaires last year than ever before

By on March 11, 2015
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The Forbes billionaires list contains a record 290 new entries this year.

The number of dollar billionaires around the world is growing fast. Forbes’ latest annual list – topped once again by Bill Gates – suggests a record 290 of them have been created in the last year alone, taking the total to 1 826 with a combined net worth of R82.62-trillion.

Obviously that’s partly down to quantitative easing – if there’s more money around then it’s easier to become a billionaire – but it’s also due partly to the rise of China and some of the controversially high valuations coming out of Silicon Valley.

China was in fact the world-leader, which 71 newcomers including Xiaomi president Lin Bin and Lenovo chief exec Yang Yuanqing. Looking over the list of new Chinese billionaires, MT is struck by how many company names it doesn’t recognise – a state of affairs most likely to be rectified as China’s prominence continues to grow.

The most recognisable faces, on the other hand, come from America’s tech sector. Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, founders of the rapidly-growing taxi app Uber, are now worth a combined R63.6-billion after several eye-wateringly high investor valuations.

Snapchat founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy, who drew both plaudits and ridicule for turning down a R36-billion acquisition offer from Mark Zuckerberg, are the youngest members on the list, worth R18-bilion each, after their company was rumoured to be valued at R228-billion.

Other techie newcomers include Airbnb founders Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia, worth around R22.8-billion each, and Netflix founder Reed Hastings, worth R12-billion.

British newbies include Home Bargains founder Tom Morris, worth R20.4-billion, Bet365 co-owner John Coates, worth R14.4-billion and The Range founder Chris Dawson, also worth R14.4-billion.

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