Powerful, Rich And Famous: Top 20 American Entrepreneurs
America is a land of the self-made, where many people have made fortunes from scratch. The country’s millionaires and billionaires are engaged in a variety of different industries, but the value of hard work is constant. Click through to see how these entrepreneurs built up a fortune from next to nothing.
#1: Jeff Bezos - Founder of Amazon, Net Worth: $146.6B
Jeff Bezos is the world's richest person and is the founder of the world's largest e-commerce retailer, Amazon. Bezos was born in New Mexico to a mother who was a high school student and a father who was a bike shop worker. After his parents split up, he was adopted by his stepfather, an immigrant from Cuba. Bezos graduated from Princeton University and founded Amazon as an online book store in 1994. From humble beginnings, Bezos has worked his way to the top.
#2: Bill Gates - Founder of Microsoft, Net Worth: $99.6B
Bill Gates has managed to turn his reputation as a computer whiz into billions. He dropped out of Harvard part way through his degree and decided to start Microsoft. Gates was the person who wrote the first code for the majority of Microsoft Software. He then cooperated with IBM to develop software for their computers. Ever since those early days, his businesses and fortunes have thrived. Bill is now known as the world's biggest philanthropist for giving $35 billion to charity.
#3: Warren Buffett - CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Net Worth: $84B
Warren Buffett is currently the world's third richest person. He worked his way up through shrewd investments in the 1950s. In 1956, using his personal savings, Buffett founded his own company, Buffett Partnership Ltd, which turned him into a millionaire within 10 years. He went on to transform the millions into billions through even more clever investments on the stock market. Like Bill Gates, Buffett has also donated some $35 billion to charity over the years.
#4: Larry Ellison - Founder of Oracle Corporation, Net Worth: $65.1B
Larry Ellison, alongside innovators like Steve Jobs, was a pioneer in the computer database industry. Without graduating from the University of Chicago, Ellison moved to California and started out as a programmer on a CIA database project in the early '70s. In 1977, Ellison founded his own company, Oracle Corporation, which eventually became a major competitor for Microsoft and IBM. That company also transformed Ellison into one of the wealthiest men in the world.
#5: Mark Zuckerberg - Founder of Facebook, Net Worth: $62.6B
Born to a psychiatrist and a dentist, Mark Zuckerberg began writing code for computers in middle school. By the time he attended Harvard, Zuckerberg had already had a reputation as a software genius. He created Facebook in 2004 initially as a way to rate how attractive people were at Harvard. Unexpectedly, it took off, but Havard banned it. Zuckerberg then left Harvard to pursue Facebook, which quickly grew into a social media giant, transforming him into a billionaire in the process.
#6: Larry Page - Founder of Google, Net Worth: $55B
Larry Page was born to parents who were both college computer science professors. He along with partner Sergey Brin started Google when they were doctoral students at Stanford University in 1998. With an initial investment of just $100,000, they quickly grew Google into the world's number one search engine. In 2015, Google was restructured and formed the parent company Alphabet Inc., with Page serving as CEO.
#7: Doug Mcmillon - CEO of Walmart, Net Worth: $48B
Doug McMillon first joined Walmart as an associate in high school. He later became a general buyer, then was appointed as the CEO of the company's Sam's Club division in 2005. Under McMillon, Sam's Club emphasized marketing to small business owners. He then led Walmart International from 2009, until he became the Walmart CEO in 2014.
#8: Steve Ballmer - Former CEO of Microsoft, Net Worth: $44.9B
Hired personally by Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer was Microsoft's CEO for 14 years. He is the person who helped transform Microsoft into the powerhouse it is today. Ballmer is also the owner of the LA Clippers. His devotion to Microsoft has sometimes conflicted with his sports interests. He reportedly forbade LA Clippers players to use iPhones as one example.
#9: Sheldon Adelson - CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, Net Worth: $36.8B
Sheldon Adelson was born into a low-income family. His father was a taxi driver while his mother, an English immigrant, ran a knitting store. Adelson started out running a computer trade show called COMDEX. He later sold COMDEX to venture into the entertainment industry. He bought the Sands Hotel & Casino, a Vegas hotspot for celebrities, and turned it into an empire.
#10: Phil Knight - Founder of Nike, Net Worth: $34.4B
Phil Knight went through a number of careers before becoming a billionaire after co-founding Nike. A graduate with a degree in journalism, Knight once worked as a sports reporter, a CPA, and even served in the Army Reserves for almost a decade before entering the shoe industry. Though Knight has now stepped down from the company, he's stayed busy as the owner of a Hollywood animation studio.
#11: Michael Dell - CEO of Dell Technologies, Net Worth: $28.6B
Michael Dell is one of the most significant innovators in the field of computer technology. Dell was honored as "Entrepreneur of the Year" in 1989 when he was only 24 years old. When Dell's computer sales slowed, he spent a couple of years consolidating and then went public. The move put Dell back on the map and also earned him a spot on the World Economic Forum.
#12: James Harris Simons - Founder of Renaissance Technologies, Net Worth: $21.5B
James Harrison Simons, the son of a shoemaker, was a genius mathematician who made good use of math to become a billionaire. During the Cold War, he broke codes for the NSA but then went on to found the hedge fund firm Renaissance Technologies. That company uses algebra to decode the stock market. Obviously, math is important to Simons, so he founded Math for America, and has given a huge portion of his wealth to math education.
#13: Elon Musk - Founder of SpaceX and Tesla, Net Worth: $21.3B
Elon Musk was born in South Africa, but also holds Canadian and U.S. citizenship. He is most famous as the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, two companies that are leading the world's next era in transportation. The controversial billionaire has tried his hand at many fields, including space transport, artificial intelligence, his own brand of tequila, and perhaps even the Hyperloop someday. Elon Musk's name often pops up in the headlines these days, but not always for good reasons.
#14: Laurene Powell Jobs - Founder of Emerson Collective, Net Worth: $19.5B
Laurene Powell Jobs is the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. She inherited Jobs' fortune after his death in 2011 and became one of the world's richest women overnight. Laurene Powell is a pious philanthropist. She founded the organization Emerson Collective to promote social change. She also runs a nonprofit, trying to decrease gang violence in Chicago, and a program that helps jobless Americans find work.
#15: Rupert Murdoch - Founder of Fox News, Net Worth: $18.6B
Rupert Murdoch was born in Australia to a regional newspaper magnate. He is now a media titan who owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the Times of London. Recently, Murdoch sold the film and television arms of 21st Century Fox to Walt Disney, Co. for $52.4 billion.
#16: Leonard Blavatnik - Founder of Access Industries, Net Worth: $18B
Born in Ukraine to a Jewish family, Leonard Blavatnik received a Masters in computer science from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard. In 1986, Blavatnik founded Access Industries, and in a few years, the company developed into a major player in media, real estate, natural resources, and venture capital, transforming him into a billionaire.
#17: David Tepper - Founder of Appaloosa Management, Net Worth: $11.6B
Born to an accountant and an elementary school teacher, David Tepper became one of the world's wealthiest men thanks to Wall Street. Tepper is another billionaire who used his fortune to pursue professional sports. He bought the Carolina Panthers for $2.2 billion, which is the most expensive purchase of an NFL team in league history. Tepper also gave a lot of his fortune to philanthropy, especially to Jewish communities, disaster relief organizations and education.
#18: David Geffen - Founder of Geffen Records and DreamWorks, Net Worth: $8.2B
David Geffen made his fortune in the entertainment industry. He started off as a personal manager, then started Asylum Records that signed mega-stars like Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, and The Eagles. Geffen later founded Geffen Records, which released John Lennon's final album just a month before his assassination. Geffen is also a co-founder of the DreamWorks film studio, which produced Oscar-winning hits like American Beauty and A Beautiful Mind.
#19: Diane Hendricks - Chairwoman of ABC Supply, Net Worth: $6.7B
Diane Hendricks was the daughter of dairy farmers in Wisconsin. She now leads ABC Supply, one of America's largest wholesale distributors of construction materials, including windows, siding, and roofing materials. Hendricks also produced movies, including The Stoning of Soraya M. and An American Carol. When Beloit, a Wisconsin town was hit hard by bad economic times, Hendricks turned her focus to turn Beloit into a new mecca.
#20: Jack Dorsey - Founder of Twitter and Square, Net Worth: $5.3B
Jack Dorsey was born to a common worker and a homemaker. He turned his talent for computer programming and coding into billions. Dorsey co-founded the social media site Twitter, and also founded Square, a mobile payment company. He has three business principles: craftsmanship, constraint, and simplicity.