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August 13, 2013updated 22 Sep 2016 3:01pm

Top 10 tech billionaires

Joe Curtis looks at the richest people in technology, who prove that sitting at home coding in a darkened room does in fact pay off.

By Joe Curtis

Bill Gates

1. Bill Gates

What a surprise. The richest man in technology is still Bill Gates. The bespectacled hero of personal computing is worth a cool $67bn – and is also the world’s most generous man, having already donated more than $28bn through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

But surprisingly, Gates’s $6bn rise in his personal fortune had little to do with his 5% share in the company he helped found, Microsoft, whose profits took a $900m hit when it was forced to write down anticipated income from its underselling Surface tablet.
No, Gates has diversified his portfolio to cover shares in private equity, bonds and stocks in firms including Mexican broadcaster Televisa.

Azim Premji

10. Azim Premji

Officially Asia’s most generous person, Premji gave away $2.3bn of shares in his outsourcing firm Wipro to his education foundation in February 2013, after already donating $2bn to the foundation in 2010. However, Wipro’s stock has fallen as competition means outsourcers are scrambling to be the first to sign new contracts.

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Larry Page and Sergey Brin

4. Larry Page

One half of the creators of Google and the second Larry on the list, Page remains CFO and CEO of the company, and recently saw his firm through the $50bn revenue mark in 2012. Worth $23bn himself, Page is concentrating on expanding Google’s reach in the mobile market. He is credited with inventing Google’s game-changing page ranking system for its search engine.

5. Sergey Brin

The other half of Google’s founding team, the co-CFO is now also director of special projects. One being Google Glass – Brin was spotted testing a prototype of it out on the New York City subway after unveiling the product in June 2012. The co-founder, worth $22.8bn, lags slightly behind Page’s net worth – I bet that really grates.

2. Larry Ellison

Larry Ellison has a net worth of$43bn and is America’s third richest man. The 68-year-old was a college drop-out but co-founded Oracle in 1977 (then called Software Development Laboratories). He now owns stakes in, NetSuite, Quark Biotechnology Inc. and Astex Pharmaceuticals, and in June last year bought all but 2% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai for a reported $500m.

Jeff Bezos

3. Jeff Bezos

The man behind Amazon has $25.2bn in the bank – no wonder, considering the CEO’s company is the world’s largest online retailer. A 40% rise in the firm’s stock over the past year drove his personal worth up $6.8bn, after Amazon reported more than $61bn earned through sales in 2012.

Bezos has just put his hand in his pocket to pay $250m for The Washington Post, so maybe he’ll start revolutionising the newspaper industry too.

6. Michael Dell

No prizes for guessing which company this guy started. Another university dropout, he did so to expand his business of selling computer upgrade kits without the overheads of owning a store, then selling PCs directly to consumers. Nearly 30 years on and his company isn’t doing so well, however – the CEO bid in January 2013 to take the company private, buying shareholders out for $24.4bn. But big shareholders are blocking the deal, claiming the bid undervalues the company.

7. Steve Ballmer

It is fair to say Ballmer has deep pockets. It might be fairer to say he has huge sacks trailing from his trousers as he walks around, bulked out as they are with the $15.2bn he is worth. Actually it’s all in a bank, he really just has space in his jeans for his car keys and maybe a Windows phone, being the CEO of Microsoft for the last 13 years.

Ballmer, though, may not reach another year in charge. Critics claim he’s been doing the job too long, with stock down 1.32% over the past five years and PC sales falling. Not to mention the $900m write down of Surface tablet sales previously mentioned.

8. Paul Allen

Yet another college dropout (making that four with Mark Zuckerberg, below), Allen is co-founder and CFO of Microsoft and is worth $15bn, owning two sport teams, the NFL team Seattle Seahawks, and the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.

Late last year his company Vulcan Real Estate sold the 12-building campus Amazon had been leasing to the online retail giant, making it the biggest commercial sale in the US that year. Allen has been selling off Microsoft shares to diversify in media, energy and tech stocks.

Mark Zuckerberg

9. Mark Zuckerberg

The 28-year-old who changed social networking with Facebook is famous for wearing a hoody and creating one of the biggest companies at the forefront of technology today. Zuckerberg, worth $13.3bn, took the company public in May 2012, an IPO whose shares fell to under $20 three months later. But the stock is now worth more than $38 a share, a spike which saw COO Sheryl Sandberg sell $91m worth of stock in August 2013. Zuckerberg was named Time Magazine’s person of the year in 2010.

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