The Forbes list of billionaires is an annual ranking of the world's wealthiest people, compiled and published by the American business magazine Forbes. The list has been published each year in March since 1987.
The total net worth of each individual on the list is estimated, in United States dollars, based on their assets and accounting for debt. Royalty and dictators whose wealth comes from their positions are excluded from the list.
Each year, Forbes employs a team of more than fifty reporters from a variety of countries to track the activity of the world's wealthiest individuals. Business deals and scrutinized and estimates of valuable assets – land, homes, vehicles, artwork, etc. – are estimated. Interviews are conducted to vet the figures and get a better idea of an individual's holdings. Finally, positions in publicly traded stock are priced to market on a date roughly a month before publication. Privately held companies are priced by the prevailing price-to-revenues or price-to-earnings ratios. Known debt is subtracted from assets to get a final estimate of an individual's estimated worth in in United States dollars. Since stock prices fluctuate rapidly, an individuals wealth and ranking at publication may vary from their situation when the list was compiled.
Family fortunes dispersed over a large number of individuals are included only if those individuals' holdings are worth more than a billion dollars. However, when a living individual has dispersed his or her wealth to immediate family members, it is included under a single listing provided that individual is still living. Royalty and dictators whose wealth comes from their positions are excluded from the list.
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, added $7 billion to his fortune since 2013 and topped the 2014 billionaire list. He has topped the list 15 of the previous 20 years, but was last number one in 2009. Mexican telecommunication mogul Carlos Slim came in second place after being number one the last the previous four years. Zara founder Amancio Ortega placed third for the second consecutive year. American investor Warren Buffet was in the top five for the 20th consecutive year, placing fourth.Oracle founder Larry Ellison rounded out the top five. America's Christy Walton was the highest ranking female, placing ninth overall.Aliko Dangote of Nigeria became the first African ever to crack the top 25, with an estimated net worth of $25 billion. 24-year-old Perenna Kei, daughter of Chinese real estate developer Ji Haipeng, was the youngest person on the list. At age 98, David Rockefeller Sr. was the oldest.
Among the largest gainers from the previous year's list was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. A rapid rise in the price of Facebook stock saw his net worth soar from $13.3 billion in 2013 to $28.5 billion in 2014. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum saw his net worth rise from less than a billion to $6.8 billion. He debuted at #202 overall, while partner Brian Acton debuted at #551 with $3 billion.
A total of 1,645 people made the 2014 billionaire list, represented combined wealth of $6.4 trillion. Of those, a record 268 were newcomers, surpassing 2008's 226 newcomers. The list included 42 female newcomers. One hundred people listed in 2013 failed to make the list. The number of women on the list rose to a record 172 in 2014, up from 138 the previous year. However, only three of them were completely self-made: TV star Oprah Winfrey, fashion designer Tory Burch, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely. Overall, 66% of the list was self-made, 13% achieved their wealth through inheritance alone, and 21% through a mixture of the two. The combined wealth of the top 20 rose from $714.5 billion to $838.6 billion.
The United States had 492 billionaire on the list, the most of any country. The country also had the most newcomers with 50, and women with 54. China had the second most billionaires with 152, including 37 new names. Russia was third with 111. Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania, and Uganda were all represented on the list for the first time. Sixteen of the female billionaires came from Germany, the second most of any country. Turkey saw the most people drop off the list, 19, due to high inflation in the country.
Carlos Slim topped the 2013 billionaire list, marking his fourth consecutive year at the top. Bill Gates remained in second, while Amancio Ortega moved up to third. Oretega's gain of $19.5 billion was the largest of anyone on the list. Warren Buffet failed to make the top three for the first time since 2000, placing fourth. Larry Ellison rounded out the top five. Diesel founder Renzo Rosso was among the top newcomers, debuting with an estimate net worth of $3 billion.
A global rise in asset prices, led Forbes editor Randall Lane to declare "It [was] a very good year to be a billionaire". However, it was not a good year to be Mark Zuckerberg. His fortune fell by $4 billion to $13.3 billion, but he wasn't the biggest loser. That was Brazil's Eike Batista who fell from seventh to 100th. Overall, net gainers outnumbered net losers by 4:1.
A record total of 1,426 people made the 2013 list, representing $5.4 trillion of assets. Of those, 442 billionaires hailed from the United States. The Asian-Pacific region had 386 billionaires and Europe 366. The list also featured a record number of newcomers, 210, representing 42 different countries. The United States had the most newcomers with 27. Sixty people from the 2012 list fell below a billion dollar of assets in 2013 and eight others from the 2012 list died. The Asia-Pacific region had the most drop offs, with 29, followed by the United States with 16. The 2013 list featured 138 women, of which 50 came from the United States.
A majority of the list (961 individuals, 67%) was entirely self-made; 184 (13%) inherited their wealth, and 281 (20%) achieved their fortune through a combination of inheritance and business acumen. Two billionaires – Sulaiman Al Rajhi and Roman Avdeev - tied for the most children with 23. Both of their fortunes are tied to the banking industry, Al Rajhi Bank and Credit Bank of Moscow respectively.
The Internet bubble created the most paper wealth for some billionaires. However, once the dotcom bubble burst the new rich saw their fortunes disappear. Billionaires' fortunes have been hit even harder by the global financial crisis. 2009 was the first time in five years that the world had a net loss in the number of billionaires. The strong performance of the financial markets and global economic recovery have erased financial assets losses. Most of the richest people on the planet have seen their fortunes soar in the past few years.