Career Advice Mar 07 2012

The Top Tech Billionaires

By joseph walker

Mark Zuckerberg may be at the top of today's tech pyramid when it comes to prestige, but it's another Harvard drop-out and computer prodigy who reins supreme atop the list of tech billionaires. Microsoft founder Bill Gates is worth $61.3 billion, ranking him number one on the Bloomberg News list of tech's richest people.

Gates has been busy spending that fortune on social philanthropy since stepping down as chief executive of Microsoft in 2000. Meanwhile, Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison, who is second on the list, has been spending his $38 billion fortune on yachts and palatial homes, one of which is a replica of a 16th century Japanese dojo.

Zuckerberg is ranked number three with at least $21 billion in assets.

When you're a billionaire, you can see your net worth swing by the sum of a small country's GDP in a single day. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin lost $560.6 million yesterday when their company's stock price fell by 1.5%. Page and Brin are each worth about $18.7 billion, ranking them fourth and fifth on Bloomberg's list.

A daily index of the global elite

Coming in at number six is Indian entrepreneur Azim Premji, the co-founder of IT outsourcing and services firm Wipro, and the only non-American on the list. Premji turned his father's peanut-oil process company into a software giant and in 2010 donated $2 billion to fund education for the poor, Bloomberg writes.

Of course, that's just today. For those who feel a need to closely follow the fortunes of the very top of the 1%, Bloomberg is updating its list daily based on the closing prices of each mogul's major stock holdings.

It's a sort of daily index of the global elite.

Curiously, not included on the list is billionaire and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who founded Bloomberg L.P. as a financial information and data company. Forbes says he is worth about $22 billion, but that probably understates his actual net worth.

In 2008, the mayor bought back 20% of his company for $4.5 billion from Merrill Lynch, giving the entire firm a valuation of $22.5 billion. He owns more than 90% of the company and the firm's value has gone up, given its revenue and earnings have increased since 2008.

The company has said 2011 revenue was about $7.6 billion, up from about $6 billion in 2008. So let's say Mike is worth at least $25 billion, based just on his Bloomberg holdings. But what's a few billion between billionaires?

Bloomberg News has a policy of not covering Bloomberg L.P., so Mayor Bloomberg was excluded from having his riches advertised on the list.

Write to Joseph Walker at Joseph.Walker@dowjones.com



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