2015 Forbes List 400: Meet America’s Wealthiest

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bill Gates richest American, 3 tech chiefs join top 10: Forbes.

Like death and taxes, Bill Gates topping the list is a given: The Microsoft mogul was the richest American for a mind-bending 22nd consecutive year at $76 billion. NEW YORK: Microsoft founder Bill Gates retained his title as wealthiest American, while three founders of online companies joined the top 10, according to the Forbes 400 list released Sept 29.Cynics no doubt will dismiss the fascination with the Forbes list as little more than an unseemly obsession with the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Gates held onto the number-one spot in the annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans for the 22nd straight year, with net worth of US$76bil (RM335.07bil), down US$5bil (RM22.04bil) from 2014. Warren Buffett, the head of conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, ranked second with US$62bil (RM273.35bil), while former Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison is third with US$47.5bil (RM209.42bil). But it was Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos who has emerged as the biggest overall gainer, adding a whopping $16.5billion to his war chest in a single year after his company posted a quarterly profit in July. Ballmer made his money with Microsoft, as did Paul Allen (26th, $17.8 billion), owner of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Sounders of MLS. The third-, fourth- and fifth-richest team owners are minority share-holders, but with their deep pockets could easily become majority or even sole owners anytime they please.

In all, 25 newcomers made it into the ranks of America’s wealthiest billionaires, including 25-year-old Evan Spiegel (#327) of Snapchat, the youngest on the list, worth $2.1billion, Brian Chesky (#194) of Airbnb at $3.3billion and Bill Haslam (#327), governor of Tennessee, at $2.1billion. Patrick Soon-Shiong of the Lakers ($12.9 billion), hedge fund manager Steve Cohen of the Mets ($12 billion) and David Tepper of the Steelers ($11.6 billion) round out that top five. Philip Frederick Anschutz, worth $10.9 billion, checks in after Tepper, and might have the most diversified sports portfolio of anybody on the illustrious list.

But my impression, having been a student of the Forbes wealth rankings for more than two decades, is that most of them go to the stock market after they already have made their fortunes. Charles and David Koch, co-founders of Koch Industries, a giant company with interests in the oil industry, building and manufacturing, this year tied for fifth place, each bringing to the table a $41billion fortune. Forbes came up with a lower figure, rating the billionaire in 121st place. “After interviewing more than 80 sources and devoting unprecedented resources to valuing a single fortune, we’re going with a figure less than half that – US$4.5bil (RM19.84bil), albeit still the highest figure we’ve ever had for him,” Forbes said. Over the 12 months through the data cutoff for this year’s Forbes list, for example, the combined value of all U.S. publicly traded companies lost 4% of their value. The richest NFL owners after Allen include the Rams’ relocation-minded Stan Kroenke ($7.6 billion), Dolphins owner Stephen Ross ($6.7 billion) — a Michigan booster and real estate developer involved with New York’s Hudson Yards project — the Jaguars’ Shahid Khan ($5.6 billion), Cowboys impresario Jerry Jones ($5 billion) and Patriots boss Robert Kraft ($4.8 billion).

Bill Gates, the Microsoft MSFT, +0.35% CEO who’s No. 1 on this year’s list, shed more than 6% of his net worth over the past year; Warren Buffett, at No. 2, lost 8%. Joan Tisch — the widow of former Giants owner Bob Tisch and the mother of Steve Tisch, the family’s point man in its shared ownership of Big Blue — is worth $3.4 billion.

Because of the bar being so high, 145 American billionaires didn’t make the cut, among them Elaine Wynn, co-founder of the Wynn Las Vegas hotel, and Urban Outfitters co-founder Richard Hayne. The top baseball owners are the Nationals’ Ted Lerner ($5.5 billion), the Tigers’ Michael Ilitch ($5.4 billion), Red Sox owner John Henry ($2.2 billion) — who also owns Liverpool of Britain’s Premier League — and Dodgers owner Mark Walter ($2.2 billion). Additionally, the Glazer family — which checked in as the country’s 63rd-richest family, worth a combined $4.7 billion — owns the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Premier League leaders Manchester United. Though he isn’t the owner of a pro team, he essentially owns the Oregon Ducks, a game-changing booster for his alma mater, where he ran track for co-founder Bill Bowerman. Carl Icahn, among New York’s richest men at $20.5 billion, has Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island named after him following huge donations and also established Foxfield Thoroughbreds in 1985.

Under Armour founder Kevin Plank — a noted Maryland booster — checked in at $3.9 billion, with UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta at $1.7 billion each. With unrealistic expectations, you take on unreasonable levels of risk, and then even more risk when those expectations don’t pan out, as they inevitably won’t.

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