When you think of wealth in the sense of being comfortable in your life and secure in your assumption of not running out of money anytime soon, a few names pop into your head, right? The top 10 wealthiest people in the U.S. might be a few of those names.
And when you think of wealth in the sense of the large, continent-moving collections of cash that push the industry to new heights and send heads spinning when the amount of zeroes is revealed, you have a few other names pop into your head, yeah?
It’s only natural that we would come to admire these people we have pop into our heads at least a little bit: they scrounged their way up from nothing to make an empire for themselves, proving to all that the American Dream has at least a little basis in fact.
“If they can do it,” you ask, “Why not me?”
Well, that’s just it. Why not you?
Top 10 Wealthiest People in the U.S.
Forbes has come out with their annual list of the Top 400, a compiling of all the data collected over the years that gives you a definitive list of who exactly the richest people in America are.
Obviously, it’s a bit steep to expect the average reader to browse through 400 names and the blurbs associated with them, so let’s just stick with the top 10 wealthiest people.
1 – Bill Gates
I bet nobody is surprised to see this guy on the top 10 wealthiest people list! We’ve all heard his name before, and a lot of us have heard at least part of his story.
Bill Gates, now 61, is the founder and one-time CEO of Microsoft. He is also an accomplished author and philanthropist, being very concerned with eliminating polio and other harmful diseases. His current net worth for 2016 is $83.7 billion
His interest in computers and programming began in 1968, at the age of 13, when he enrolled in a private preparatory school called Lakeside School. His school purchased computer time for the various classes when he was in eighth grade, and from the first moment he took an interest in programming the GE system in BASIC, he was hooked.
His very first computer program written was a tic-tac-toe game that pitted the players against the computer.
From there, it spiraled upward. The company itself, CCC, banned him from the computer, after he and four students found some computer bugs they could exploit to earn free computer time. At the end of the ban, they all volunteered to point out these bugs in exchange for said free computer time. The four students went on to program multiple other significant programs for more companies, including their own school, until they graduated in 1973.
That Fall, he joined the students of Harvard University and, although he heeded his parents wish for a law major, he took advanced mathematics class and a graduate level computer sciences course. He published a formalized paper with his professor, Christos Papadimitriou, focusing on his algorithm, which solved the pancake sorting problem faster than any other solution on record.
It’s more significant than it sounds, I promise.
Two years later, he dropped out of Harvard with his parents’ blessing to start Microsoft alongside Paul Allen, and of course, the rest is history.
2 – Warren Buffett
For a while there, it looked like Warren Buffett had been knocked out of the number 2 spot on the top 10 wealthiest people list! Fortunately for him, 2016 wasn’t quite over yet when those numbers were taken, and he was able to add enough to his net worth to keep the spot.
This 86-year-old is worth $73 billion as of Dec. 31st, 2016, and although his personal wealth is great, he himself lives a life of comparative frugality. He is a philanthropist, having pledged to give away 99 percent of his humungous fortune through the Bill Gates Foundation, and endorsed Hillary Clinton in the recent election. His main source of wealth is the Berkshire Hathaway company, a multinational conglomerate holding company.
From a young age, Buffett found interest in success in various entrepreneurial and investment ventures, despite being only a child. He sold Coca-Cola and chewing gum door to door and delivered newspapers. With the help of his friend during high school, the two bought used pinball machines and placed them in bars across Omaha.
They later sold the pinball machine venture for $1,200 to a war veteran.
After graduating high school, Buffett found his side-ventures in entrepreneurialism and investment were achieving success and wanted to skip college to go straight into business, but his father overruled him.
He didn’t let this stop him, though. He had purchased stock on Wall Street when he was 11, he had purchased real estate when he was 14, and by the time he was finished with college, he had accumulated $90,000 in savings measured in 2009 currency. Read on for more of the top 10 wealthiest people!
3 – Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos is a name you might not have heard before. This 52-year-old is worth $64.9 billion, which makes sense since he’s the founder, chairman and chief executive officer at Amazon.com
From a very young age, Bezos showed mechanical aptitude and technological interest. When he was four, he dismantled his crib with a screwdriver, and when he was a little older, he rigged an electric alarm to warn him when his siblings attempted to get into his room.
After his family moved to Miami, Florida, and he was enrolled in the Miami Palmetto Senior High School, he attended the Student Science Training Program at the University of Florida, earning himself a Silver Knight Award in 1982.
After graduating from Princeton University in 1986, Bezos moved over to work on Wall Street in the computer science field before jumping onto a project to develop a network for international trade.
After that, he moved to working at Bankers Trust, and then at the internet-enabled company of D.E. Shaw and Co.
Bezos drew up the business plan for Amazon during a cross-country trip to Seattle after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mail-order businesses don’t have to collect tax in states they don’t have a physical presence in. He left his well-paying job at a New York hedge fund and set up the company in his garage.
4 – Mark Zuckerberg
The famous founder of Facebook is worth $48.4 billion as of Dec. 31st, 2016, and although y’all probably already know his story from the movie made around it, The Social Network, I’ll recount it here anyway.
His genius-level handling of code and programming languages did not pop up overnight, and by the time he started classes at Harvard University, he was already hailed as a programming prodigy. He had created a network program that allowed his home computer and the computer at his father’s dental practice to communicate, which was thought to be a primitive version of the AOL Messenger that came out the year after he made it, as well as a media player that learned the user’s listening habits.
The programming didn’t slow down at Harvard. He created a program called CourseMatch that let you choose classes based on what other people were taking, as well as create study groups for those classes. He also created Facemash, a website that had students choose which person out of four was the hottest.
That last one was taken down because of a) it broke Harvard’s network connection and b) he was using pictures without permission.
The following semester, in February of 2004, he launched thefacebook.com, which would of course eventually morph into the Facebook.com we all know. Read on for more of the top 10 wealthiest people!
5 – Larry Ellison
This 72-year-old founder of the Oracle programming company stayed pretty much right where he was with an overall net worth of $47.7 billion, which is only a $1.8 billion increase from last year.
He first encountered computer design when he attended the University of Chicago for a semester, and then in the 1970s, he began working for Ampex Corporation after a brief stint at the Amdahl Corporation. He worked there for around six years before he, along with two partners, founded Software Development Laboratories.
It renamed itself to Relational Software Inc. in 1979, and then to Oracle Systems Corporation in 1982, after its flagship product the Oracle database. Over the next three decades, there were many periods of up and down for the company, from heightened sales to class-action lawsuit scandals.
Now, more recently, Oracle acquired NetSuite for $9.3 billion. Read on for more of the top 10 wealthiest people!
6 – Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg, of the self-made Bloomberg LP, is worth $40.3 billion as of Dec. 31st, 2016. Bloomberg LP is a mass media, global financial services, and software company, that is most notable for the Bloomberg Terminal, a software system that provides financial data for use in the global financial services industry.
As well as being the founder, owner, and CEO of his company, he is also a successful politician, having been elected as the mayor of New York several times as both a Republican and as an independent candidate. There were several times in previous years that he was speculated to run for president, and there were a few times around and after 2010 that he played a significant role in the elections.
Bloomberg is also a dedicated environmental philanthropist, having stated and enacted several policies to combat climate change after he became the mayor of New York City. He has donated many times to various funds in order to seriously restrict or even work toward eliminating environmentally harmful practices.
7 – Charles Koch
Charles Koch is a businessman, politician, political donor, and philanthropist. His sources of wealth are diversified throughout several different areas; most notably, he is co-owner, chairman, and president of Koch Industries alongside his brother, David, who is the vice-president.
Koch Industries is the second-largest privately owned company in the U.S. It was originally exclusively involved in oil refining, but now it also includes process and pollution controls. It also deals with polymers and fibers, minerals, fertilizers, commodity trading and services, forest and consumer franchises, and ranching. Subsidiaries of the company are also involved in industries such as carpet cleaners and biodiesel fuel.
On the political side of things, he’s a classical liberal and opposes corporate welfare. In the past, he has expressed concern over how much control and regulation the U.S. government has, and he disdains the concepts of big government and the political class.
As of Dec. 31st, 2016, he has a net worth of $43.5 billion. Read on for more of the top 10 wealthiest people!
8 – David Koch
David Koch is the brother of Charles Koch, and as stated above, he is the vice-president of Koch Industries. When Charles took over as CEO after their father died, David took control of and now oversees the chemical technology group.
David is a libertarian and an influential politician; he was a candidate for the Vice President of the United States back in 1980. He and his brother have donated to many different political campaigns, all of them Republican.
9 – Larry Page
Page co-founded Google Inc. back in 1998 alongside Sergey Brin, and then in 2015 moved to become the CEO of Alphabet, Google’s new parent’s company. Under Alphabet’s new umbrella, Google restructured into a number of subsidiaries, which helped to keep its various products mostly separate from each other. This, presumably, allows each company to focus more fully on its own industry instead of having one company trying to diversify and spread itself too thin.
Larry himself is worth $38.5 million as of Dec. 31st, 2016, and unless he somehow manages to lose all of that and sink Google, Youtube, Google AdWords, and all the other affiliated products under his jurisdiction, his wealth will only keep growing.
Since 2013, at least 70 of Google’s various services were shut down, in order to focus more fully on the ones that remained. Their looks and nature were consolidated with each other.
When looking to add new products to Google’s brand, Page asks himself if it passes the toothbrush test. That is if it seems useful to have and if he’ll use it at least once or twice a day.
10 – Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin co-founded Google alongside Larry Page, and when Page created Alphabet and moved on to become its CEO, Sergey filled the position of President.
His and Page’s exploits begun when they filled their dorm room at Stamford University and used their combined data mining skills to connect them and compile a search engine. When it became popular at the university, they suspended their Ph.D. studies in order to start up Google in a rented garage.
He believes that the world’s information should be organized and universally accessible, as knowledge is always better than ignorance.
Sergey is worth $37.5 billion as of Dec. 31st, 2016.
If you were ever curious, there you have it! The top 10 wealthiest people in the US as of the end of the year.
Whether you aspire to be like them, or you aspire to contest them for their spots on this list, this is the who’s who of the top 10 wealthiest people in the U.S.
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