Short Bytes: It’s time to meet the top five billionaires in the technology world. They are the people who have superpowers to change the world and make it more simple and connected. Their contribution to the human society is priceless.
Wealth: $79.6 billion
Known For: Microsoft, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Born on October 28, 1955, the multi-billionaire retained the crown of the wealthiest person for 16 times in the Forbes list. It is hard to guess, for a man with so delicate appearance, designed his school seating arrangement system in such a way that it allowed him to sit next to female students. His family encouraged him to get familiar with coding at an early age and emphasized on competition, there was a reward for each success, no matter how small and a penalty for every failure.
At Lakeside School, he wrote his first code that was a Tic-Tac-Toe using BASIC programming language on a GE computer. He met Paul Allen in 1968, who partnered him in his coding activities and the duo finally created Microsoft in Gates’ garage in 1975. His biggest rival was Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1977. Two were high achievers, college dropouts, and created billion-dollar companies. Though they were just opposite of each other but they had an indefinable relationship. Gates got emotional when he was asked about Jobs after his death.
— Gates said in an interview. Most of you might not know, Bill Gates wrote a letter to Steve Jobs when he was in his last days. Steve didn’t read that letter, maybe he already knew what Bill wanted to convey in that piece of paper.
In early Microsoft days, Gates used to remember employees’ licence plates so that he could keep an eye on their attendance. He left his CEO position in the year 2000 and served as the chairman of Microsoft until 2014 when he finally restructured his priority list and became more involved as Co-Chair at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pursue his hobby as a philanthropist. The foundation works for the upliftment of people in poor and underdeveloped countries and provides financial aid to fight dangerous diseases.
Apart from the technology world, he has been a much talked about name on other platforms. He bagged a position in the list of “50 Most Eligible Bachelors” in 1985. He married Melinda French on January 1, 1994, has three kinds Jenifer, Phoebe, and Rory and lives with his family in the 66,000 sq. ft. home known as The Gates’ Mansion.
Wealth: $50 billion
Known For: Oracle
Born in New York City, he was an adopted child to a Jewish family and we can find him as one of the names in the list of dropout billionaires. Initially, Ellison worked for Ampex Corporation where he was assigned the task to design a database for CIA. In 1977, he started his own company called Software Development Laboratories with two partners and an initial investment of $2000. The company was later renamed to Oracle Systems Corporation after its famous database product Oracle.
Ellison is a licenced pilot and to satisfy his flying passion, he has shelled out some serious amount of cash. His aircraft collection also includes two military jets, SIAI-Marchetti S.211 and MIG-29. The military jet pilot is also a tennis fan and to content his tennis fever, he has bought the ownership of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and the Indian Wells Masters tournament.
The ex-CEO of Oracle now serves as the Executive Chairman and CTO at an annual $1 paycheck. He has criticized a list of technology executives for violating Oracle’s patent rights. In an interview with Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning, he accused Google and specifically Larry Page, ‘of being evil’. Oracle sued Google for using their patented Java language – which they inherited as a part of Sun Microsystems acquisition – for the development of their Android OS. “I think what they did was absolutely evil which is completely different. And I know their slogan is “Don’t be evil” but, this time, they slipped out.” – He replied when asked about Page. This long gone fight was in the news last month, when Google went to seek court’s permission to press sanctions against an Oracle Lawyer.
Apart from these technology-centric legal battles, Ellison has also filed an off-track lawsuit. Once he filed a case against his neighbours because their acacia and three redwood trees were blocking his view. He actually hired a “tree lawyer” for that purpose.
Wealth: $47.8 billion
Known For: Amazon
The technology entrepreneur Jeff Bezos – who wants to send Donald Trump into space – was one of the first investors to the search giant Google, who paid an amount of $250,000. He spent his childhood summer vacations at the ranch where his grandfather lived after taking premature retirement as a regional director of U. S. Atomic Energy Commission. He developed a technical interest at an early age and that reflected through his academic performance. Bezos attained the Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from Princeton University.
In 1994, he quit his job and founded a book selling website Amazon, which is now the largest e-commerce company in the world. Back then, the Quill Corp. v. North Dakota US Supreme Court Ruling was announced, that a business must have a physical presence in a state for that state to require it to collect sales taxes. This triggered the idea in Jeff’s mind for which he prepared the business plan while driving from New York to Seattle after kicking his high salary job. It was until the year 2012, Amazon took the advantage of the ruling to edge over its competitors in the retail sector.
Bezos also founded a human spaceflight company Blue Origin which was for the purpose of enabling private human access to space. When he was 18, he wanted to make space hotels, amusement parks and colonies for around 2 to 3 million people who will be in the orbit. His shopping bag also has The Washington Post which he bought in 2013 after paying a cash amount of $250 million.
Wealth: $41.2 billion
Known For: Facebook
The billionaire Facebook boss whose first business card titled “I’m CEO, bitch”, is also a college dropout and works for an annual paycheck of $1. He started Facebook in his Harvard dorm with his fellow roommates. Initially, the website was confined to the Harvard campus but it was later expanded to nearby colleges and got worldwide recognition in the following years replacing Google’s Orkut from the throne. Even Zuckerberg wouldn’t have thought, his work would go this far.
Zuckerberg has a multilingual proficiency with command over Latin, Hebrew, French, ancient Greek, and most recently Chinese. He was a science geek in his childhood and won several prizes during his school years.
Zuckerberg’s Facebook journey was portrayed in the movie The Social Network released in 2010 – “I just wished that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive” – Zuckerberg said.
In August 2013, Zuckerberg announced the internet.org initiative which was for the purpose of providing free basic internet services to the technology deprived population of countries like India. However, his initiative – which provided its services through an app called Free Basics – was much criticized for being a challenge to the open internet (net neutrality), as it featured only selected services, though, they were free. Recently, Facebook’s Free Basics app has been banned in India.
Apart from being considered as a Good Guy who wants to connect the world, Zuckerberg has fought legal battles against his Harvard seniors, who claimed that he made them believe he was working for their HarvardConnection.com project but he used their resources to create Facebook. The lawsuit finally got settled for a $20 million cash payment and 1.2 million common shares transfer.
As a philanthropist, Zuckerberg has supported The Giving Pledge initiative in which he has committed to donate 50% of his wealth to charity over the course of time. Zuckerberg married to Priscilla Chan in 2012, and the couple started the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative. In an open letter to their newborn daughter Max, they announced that they would be transferring 99% (valued at 45 billion at the time of announcement) of their Facebook shares to the Chan-Zuckerberg initiative.
Worth: $33.4 billion
Known For: Google, Alphabet
Page was a Ph.D. student (dropped out later on) at Stanford, where he met Sergey Brin who was assigned the task to take new students on a campus tour. The two had argumental clashes all along the tour but they became friends over the time, finally moving ahead to create Google. Well, the two of them still have opinion differences, but they consider it as a positive point and helpful for their growth. That’s quite obvious, even the two sides of a coin aren’t the same but they do contribute to the value of the coin.
His love for technology was visible from his childhood, in fact, he was the first kid in his elementary school to submit a word-processed assignment. Both his mother and father were computer science faculties at the University of Michigan and his home was filled with lots of gadgets and science magazines.
He graduated from the University of Michigan where he used Lego Bricks to make an inkjet printer. The 42-year-old internet entrepreneur currently works as the CEO of the newly incorporated Alphabet which is the parent company to Google and another big projects that were earlier a part of Google. He is a business opportunist, it was at the time when Google was busy coding the payment system for its advertisement service and Larry came to know that users in Uzbekistan were unable to make payments by credit card, as it was not accepted in the country. So, he decided to take goats as a form of payment.
In his initial days at Google, Page was harsh, who often hurt people with his arguments. When he was appointed as the CEO for the second time, he declared a “zero tolerance for fighting” policy as he realised a harmonious environment was a must for the betterment of the company and the employees. He has a rare medical problem known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. In 2013, he announced that his right vocal cord is paralysed and his left vocal cord got paralysed in 1999. This problem ultimately stopped him from attending Google annual meetings.
Page is the owner of a $45 million super luxurious yacht which he bought in 2011. He also bought the properties next to his house in Palo Alto and deconstructed them make a new 6000-sq ft. Ecohouse which has a very low carbon footprint.
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