Chattanooga businessman makes Forbes richest Americans list

30 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Forbes gave Donald Trump’s net worth a $5.5 billion haircut.

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. America’s top 400 billionaires are now richer than ever, boasting a record-smashing combined wealth of $2.34trillion, up $50billion from a year ago, according to the latest issue of Forbes Magazine.Thirty-five Florida residents — including three who live in the Tampa Bay area — made the Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans released Tuesday. Microsoft founder Bill Gates continued to dominate the prestigious list for the 22nd year in a row with a $76billion fortune, retaining his No 1 spot despite losing $5billion from 2014. 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.

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. Here’s what he said, according to an article by Forbes’ Randall Lane: “I think you’re trying to make me as poor as possible,” Trump told the magazine. That is all I’m gonna say.” “Well, I think the biggest difference is in terms of how he values his brand, We don’t use brand value in terms of our valuations because we figure if you have some brand value that you’re going to find a way to monetize, but until you do, we don’t count it,” said Forbes, chairman and editor in chief at Forbes.

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. 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.

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%. 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. Trump’s net worth has proved a sensitive subject, leading him to file a lawsuit in 2006 against a reporter, who Trump claimed understated his wealth. 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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