Three Decades Of Billionaires in One List

Thirty years after Forbes started ranking billionaires from around the world, it has released a summary per se of all the billionaires they have ranked. I’m sharing a post from Forbes that examines all ranked billionaires based on quantifiable data and unbeatable historical truths.

Enjoy the read.

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Billionaires | SJ Petith
image via cbsnews.com

Since 1987 we’ve been tracking the world’s wealthiest people. Globalization and technology of the 1980s pulled once distant corners of the planet much closer, inspiring a list–the first of its kind–to capture a picture of world’s richest in one place. “National boundaries still satisfy politicians,” the 1987 introduction to the first list stated. “But they no longer contain business people.”

Our inaugural edition counted only 140 billionaire individuals and families from just 24 countries. At the time, Japan was home to both the world’s richest man, real estate tycoon Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, and more billionaires than any other country besides the U.S. This year? We have a record 2,043 billionaires from 71 countries and territories. The U.S. still holds the most, but now China comes in second, and Bill Gates has held the title of World’s Richest Man for 18 of the last 23 years.

Each year’s list has served as a time capsule for the wealthiest capitalists. Their fortunes have ebbed and flowed with global economic forces. Over decades, Asia’s century gave way to the Asia crisis; the internet boom created unprecedented wealth that years later still hasn’t been replicated.

The 2008 financial crisis wreaked havoc on hundreds. For others, wealth has been only fleeting, less so because of global turbulence and more due to specific miscalculations. James Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, founders of Research in Motion, which makes BlackBerry cellphones, joined as billionaires in 2007, but dropped off by 2012.

Elizabeth Holmes was featured as world’s youngest self-made female billionaire in 2015, thanks to a venture round she raised at a sky high valuation. She fell off this year, amid allegations that the global blood-testing company Theranos’ products didn’t work as advertised. Then there is the spectacular fall of Eike Batista, once the 7th richest person in the world. His fortune plummeted from $30 billion to $300 million in 2014 after his Brazilian oil exploration firm declared bankruptcy.

Still there are those whose fortunes have stood the test of time: 19 super billionaires debuted on the 1987 list who are still alive today and still securely in the ranks. That includes legendary businesspeople with huge staying power and enormous influence like Warren Buffett and Li Ka-shing. David Rockefeller was among this group until his death in March 2017.

Thirty years later, a comment from our inaugural issue continues to hold true: “How someone managed to make or hold a billion dollars is likely to tell you something about how the world works.”

Follow along with some of the biggest milestones below.

1987
140 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $295 billion

Just 20 people have been on every World’s Billionaires List since 1987. Among them: Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Li Kashing, H. Ross Perot Sr. and Lilaine Bettencourt.

1988
191 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $338 billion

Three Columbian drug lords, including Pablo Escobar, make the list with cocaine fueled fortunes of more than $5 billion each.

1989
198 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $435 billion

New York real estate titans the Durst family are worth $1 billion. More than two decades later, estranged heir Robert Durst, the subject of the HBO series, “The Jinx,” is arrested for murder.

1990
269 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $542 billion

After two years on the Billionaires list, Donald Trump, facing bankruptcy, drops off.

1991
273 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $582 billion

Mexico’s Carlos Slim Helu debuts at $1.7 billion; 19 years later, he is the world’s richest man ($53.5 billion).

1992
288 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $602 billion

Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton dies at 74; his family’s net worth is $18.5 billion. Today, Walton’s heirs are worth a combined $118.6 billion.

1993
310 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $565 billion

Deals with American icons such as Anheuser-Busch and Sara Lee help create 7 new Mexican billionaires, bringing the country’s total to 13. You’ll find 15 in 2017.

1994
349 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $762 billion

Africa’s first billionaire is South Africa’s Harry Oppenheimer, a gold-and-diamonds magnate.

1995
365 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $892 billion

Bill Gates begins his reign as the world’s richest. He’s the first on our list to be No. 1 who isn’t from Japan.

1996
447 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $1.1 trillion

The 1980s are well and truly over, as the number of Japanese billionaires peaks at 41. There are 33 today.

1997
486 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $1.2 trillion

Dawn of the oligarchs: Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vagit Alekperov and Rem Viakhirev are Russia’s first 4 billionaires. There are 96 this year.

1998
454 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $1.1 trillion

After the ’97 Asian financial crisis, bird flu and more, Asia’s average billionaire is $300 million poorer.

1999
465 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $819 billion

A new billionaire is born: Ty Warner profits from the global Beanie Babies craze.

2000
470 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $898 billion

Oracle shares rocket more than 500%, making Larry Ellison No. 2, worth $47 billion.

2001
538 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $1.8 trillion

Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson is the first ever African-American billionaire. He dropped off the Billionares list in 2009.

2002
497 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $1.5 trillion

Eighty-three billionares drop off in the wake of the dot-com crash, Yahoo cofounders Jerry Yang and David Filo among them.

2003
476 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $1.3 trillion

Oprah Winfrey becomes the first female African-American billionaire.

2004
587 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $1.9 trillion

Barely 30 years old, Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page make the list.

2005
691 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $2.2 trillion

Martha Stewart debuts on the list the same month she’s freed from jail after serving five months for obstruction of justice.

2006
793 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $2.6 trillion

Hind Hariri, daughter of assassinated Lebanon prime minister Rafik Hariri, joins as the youngest member at 22.

2007
946 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $3.5 trillion

Japan’s Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, the world’s richest man on our inaugural list, drops off entirely.

2008
1,125 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $4.4 trillion

Warren Buffet, worth $62 billion, overtakes Bill Gates $58 billion) to become the world’s richest person.

2009
793 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $2.4 trillion

In the wake of the global financial crisis, billionaires shed $2 trillion in net worth; our list has 30% fewer billionaires than the year before.

2010
1,011 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $3.6 trillion

Warren Buffet and Bill Gates announce the Giving Pledge, a promise to give the majority of wealth to philanthropic causes. Since then 157 have pledged, most of them billionaires.

2011
1,210 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $4.5 trillion

Moscow becomes the billionaire capital of the world: 79 of them call it home, more than any other city.

2012
1,226 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $4.6 trillion

Elon Musk, impresario of electric cars, solar power and reusable rockets, makes his first appearance on the list.

2013
1,426 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $5.4 trillion

Isabel Dos Santos, the oldest daughter of Angola’s longtime president, becomes the richest woman in Africa ($2 billion).

2014
1,645 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $6.4 trillion

Busted: Brazilian Eike Batista’s net worth drops from $30 billion to $300 million after his oil exploration firm, OGX, declares bankruptcy.

2015
1,826 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $7.1 trillion

His Airness, Michael Jordan, worth $1 billion, springs aboard.

2016
1,810 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $6.5 trillion

The world’s first “drone billionaires” hail from China: Frank Wang, Lu Di and Swift Xie.

2017
2,043 Billionaires
Total Net Worth: $7.7 trillion

Self-made women now make up 2.7% of global billionaires; a decade ago, they were just 1% of the total.

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