The annual Forbes billionaires list has rolled out the names of the super rich from all corners of the globe. Every year Forbes magazine publishes and categorizes a list of the world’s wealthiest by the source of their fortunes, their country and the dollar valuation of their net worth. According to the 2014 list, “the rich are getting richer,” this year there are 1,645 billionaires with a combined net worth of $6.4 trillion, up from 1,426 billionaires with a combined wealth $5.4 trillion from 2013. For the past 28 years, a team of reporters at Forbes has diligently and tediously glean data to calculate a person’s assets; including shares in companies, properties, yachts, art and cash to determine who are the world’s billionaires. The Forbes Billionaires list excludes persons of royalty and dictators who derive their riches from positions of power.
Microsoft cofounder, Bill Gates returns to the number one spot with a net worth of $76 billion after being dethroned by Mexican industrialist Carlos Slim Helu for four years. Gates has been crowned first on the list in 15 of the last 20 years. The usual veteran billionaires still hold their places on list like Oprah Winfrey, the Wal-Mart heirs and Warren Buffett. The United States as always maintains its status as having the highest concentration of billionaires with 492 individuals. Approximately 66 percent of the world’s billionaires are self-made, 13 percent received an inheritance and 21 percent have multiplied the fortunes bestowed to them.
Predominantly the list has been mostly made up of males who are 40 and over, however each year it becomes more diverse. This year’s Forbes Billionaires list has seen a shift of demographics, 42 women have become newcomers on the list increasing the number of women billionaires to 172. Folorunsho Alakija, a self-made tycoon has parlayed her fashion and oil empire into a $2.5 billion fortune. Denise Coates, an Internet bookie has grown her online gambling company, Bet365.com into a $1.6 billion gold mine. The young and wealthy are also ascending on the list, with 31 billionaires under the age of 40. Wealth has reached in the most unlikely places like Uganda, Tanzania, Algeria and a Nigerian businessman, Aliko Dangote has risen to the top 25 on the list with a net worth of $25 billion.
Since the 1990s the Forbes Billionaire list has had its fair share of Internet fortunes. The social media network, Facebook has soared Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune by $15.8 billion to $28.5 billion due to increased stock price value. Facebook has also placed newcomers on the list, Sheryl Sandberg, COO of the company and longtime vice president, Jeff Rothschild. The perpetual Internet billionaires like Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com has garnered a fortune of $32 billion and Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have fortunes respectively of $32.3 billion and $31.8 billion.
The 2014 Forbes Billionaires list has seen many fortunes dwindle due to countries that have suffered from inflation, currency devaluation and a plummeting stock market such as Turkey where 19 billionaires cascaded off the list and Indonesia has lost eight billionaires. The biggest loser on the list is Brazilian magnate, Eike Batista who had a net worth of $33 billion on the 2012 list and $10.6 billion on the 2013 list. In less than two years, his shares in oil company, OGX have plunged due to massive debt making him worth less than $300 million.
By Isriya Kendrick