The World's Billionaires is an annual ranking of the world's wealthiest people, compiled and published by the American business magazine Forbes in March. 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.
The list has been published each year in March since 1987.Microsoft founder Bill Gates has topped the list 15 of the past 20 years, including the most recent 2014 edition. As of 2014, there are 1,645 people on the list, including a record 172 women. Roughly two-thirds of the list is entirely self-made and only about 1 in 8 billionaires achieved their wealth through inheritance alone.
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 $9 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. 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.
A total of 1,645 people made the 2014 billionaire list, representing combined wealth of $6.4 trillion. Of those, a record 268 were newcomers, surpassing 2008's 226 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. Approximately 66% of the list was self-made, 13% achieved their wealth through inheritance alone, and 21% through a mixture of the two.
The United States had 492 billionaires 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, while Russia was third with 111. Algeria, Lithuania, Tanzania, and Uganda were all represented on the list for the first time. 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. 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 Eike Batista who fell from seventh to 100th, suffering the largest net loss of anyone on the list. 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. 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.
Carlos Slim topped the 2012 list, marking this third consecutive year at the top. Bill Gates placed second, but narrowed the gap from 2011 as Slim's fortune fell $5 billion while Gates' rose $5 billion. Warren Buffet remained in third place. Bernard Arnault of France was the top-ranking European on the list, placing fourth.Ricardo Salinas Pliego was the greatest gainer in terms of dollars, adding $9.2 billion to his fortune and moving up to number 37 overall. Making her debut on the list at age 27, Spanx founder Sara Blakely became the youngest self-made female billionaire ever. Colombia's Alejandro Santo Domingo was the highest ranked newcomer, inheriting a $9.5 billion stake in Santo Domingo Group from his father. India's Lakshmi Mittal was the largest loser as his fortune dropped from $31.1 billion to $20.7 billion as the price of steel maker ArcelorMittal fell sharply. As a result, he failed to make the top 10 for the first time since 2004 and lost his title of richest Asian to Hong Kong’s Li Ka-shing.
A record total of 1,226 people made the 2012 list, representing 58 different countries. Of those, 126 were newcomers to the list and 104 were women. The United States had the greatest number of billionaires with 425. Russia had 96 people on the list, while China had 95. Georgia, Morocco, and Peru were newly represented on the list. Falling stock prices in Asia contributed to 117 former billionaires falling from the list world-wide. Twelve others listed in 2011 died. Overall, net gainers (460) barely outnumbered net losers (441).
To coincide with the release of the 2012 list, Forbes announced a new "Billionaire Real-Time Ticker" updating the wealth of the world's top fifty billionaires in real time.
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.