TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -For the first time on Forbes’ third annual richest in tech list, the 100 richest self-made tech billionaires are worth more than $1 trillion. Their combined net worth of $1.08 trillion is up 21% from last year, buoyed by a dizzying rise in stock prices at companies like Facebook, Amazon.com and Chinese social media behemoth Tencent. Half of the $189 billion increase came from the 10 richest tech billionaires. More than three-quarters of the list’s billionaires have bigger fortunes than a year ago. The cutoff to make this year’s Richest In Tech list was $2.6 billion, up from $2.2 billion last year.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates maintains his spot as the richest person in tech (and the richest person in the world) this year with a net worth estimated by Forbes at $85.4 billion. A month ago, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos looked poised to take the No. 1 spot this year. He even surpassed Gates for a single morning in late July, but quickly dropped below Gates and now has an $81.7 billion fortune. Gates' net worth is up $6.5 billion in the past year, despite the fact that he gave $4.6 billion worth of Microsoft stock this summer to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He now owns just 1.3% of Microsoft’s outstanding shares.
The biggest dollar gainer this year is the third richest tech billionaire, Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. He’s one of only 16 billionaires on the list under the age of 40 and is the fifth youngest overall. Zuckerberg is $15.6 billion richer than a year ago, as Facebook stock has climbed 34% in the past 12 months. Bezos gained nearly as much as Zuckerberg; his fortune surged $15.5 billion as Amazon stock rose 25%.
The third and fourth biggest gainers on the list are Asia’s two richest tech billionaires. Tencent CEO Ma Huateng(also known as Pony Ma) is Asia’s second richest tycoon and the third biggest dollar gainer on the tech list. His net worth increased $14.7 billion to $36.7 billion. Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Ma is the richest tech billionaire in Asia (as well as Asia's richest person) with a $37.4 billion fortune, up $11.6 billion from last year.
Full Coverage: The Richest In Tech 2017
The United States continues to dominate the Richest In Tech list, followed by China. Fifty list members are American citizens, including eight of the top 10 richest tech billionaires. Nearly three-quarters of these Americans live in California, while the rest are spread out among eight other states. Thirty-three billionaires on this year’s list are Asian citizens and more than half of them live in China or Hong Kong.
Eleven of the 100 richest tech billionaires got poorer over the past year. Of those, only saw their fortune shrink by more than $1 billion. The biggest dollar loser on the list is China’s Lei Jun, whose net worth dropped $2.9 billion to $6.9 billion, as his smartphone maker Xaiomi lost market share in China amidst stiff competition. Uber cofounders Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp’s net worths each dropped $1.2 billion to $5.1 billion. Forbes applied a 20% discount to Uber’s last institutional funding round of $68 billion because of the series of scandals that hit the ride-sharing giant in 2017, starting in February with an explosive blog post by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler detailing how the company ignored her reports of harassment and a lawsuit against Uber by Alphabet’s self-driving car subsidiary, Waymo. Uber declined to comment. In June, Kalanick resigned as CEO under pressure and was sued by early venture investor Benchmark Capital, which alleged fraud. Kalanick's spokesperson described the lawsuit as "without merit."
There are seven newcomers on the list and two more who returned after falling off in 2016. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel returns to the list with a $3.2 billion fortune and is joined for the first time by his cofounder Bobby Murphy -- despite Snap shares diving 40% since its IPO in March 2017. Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is also a newcomer with a $4 billion fortune, joining the list after Nvidia stock climbed an astounding 117% in the past year. Outcome Health CEO Rishi Shah joins the list with a $3.6 billion fortune after his startup, which puts touchscreens in doctors’ offices, raised $600 million at a $5.7 billion valuation in May 2017.
There was one female newcomer this year, bringing the total number of women on the list to six. Wang Laichun, the only female newcomer, owns Luxshare Precision with her brother Wang Laisheng; the pair has made a fortune manufacturing parts for Apple. Before that, she worked for Terry Guo’s Hon Hai for 10 years. The richest self-made woman in tech is Zhou Qunfei of Hong Kong, who made her $10 billion fortune manufacturing smartphone touch screens. The richest self-made woman in tech the United States is Judy Faulkner, who founded medical record provider Epic in a basement in Wisconsin in 1979 and has a $3.4 billion fortune.