There are a record 206 tech billionaires on Forbes’ 2018 list of The World’s Billionaires, 23 more than a year ago. Together they are worth an astounding $1.3 trillion, up 30% since last year. It’s been a banner year for most of these tech tycoons: 58% of them have bigger fortunes than a year ago, while only 13% experienced declines.
The two countries with the most tech billionaires were, perhaps not surprisingly, the U.S. and China, with 38% and 26% of all tech billionaires, respectively. This year marks the first time that two techies from China rose to the top 20 richest: Tencent chairman Ma Huateng (also known as Pony Ma) ranks No. 17 in the world, thanks in part to his wildly popular WeChat, while AlibabaBABA +3.18% chairman Jack Ma comes in at No. 20 richest. Altogether, 8 of the 20 richest people on Earth amassed fortunes in the tech sector.
Of the 79 American tech billionaires, 55 live in California. Another seven in tech are not American citizens, but call California home.
Just 15 of the 206 tech billionaires are women (three more than last year); the richest is the Hong Kong-based Zhou Qunfei, chairman of smartphone screen maker Lens Technology . These tech tycoons are mostly not young: just 26 are under the age of 40. One strong commonality: An overwhelming 94% of all tech billionaires created their own fortunes (as opposed to inheriting them).
The richest person in tech, who’s also the richest person in the world, is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. An impressive 59% rise in the stock price of Amazon over the past 12 months pushed Bezos to new heights, making him the only centi-billionaire in existence, with a net worth of $112 billion. His fortune jumped a stunning $39.2 billion, which makes him the biggest billionaire gainer of the year. That jump is also the biggest one-year dollar gain in the 31 years Forbes has tracked global billionaires. Bezos owns 16% of Amazon stock. He also founded and runs aerospace company Blue Origin and owns the Washington Post.
Bill Gates, the richest person in the world for 18 of the past 24 years, drops to number two on the list this year – which also makes him the second richest tech billionaire, with a net worth of $90 billion. His fortune excludes the more than $31 billion that the Microsoft MSFT -0.34% cofounder has given to philanthropic causes (primarily to The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation) in his lifetime. Gates first appeared on Forbes’ 1988 World’s Billionaires List with a fortune of $1.4 billion.
Mark Zuckerberg is the third richest tech billionaire and fifth richest in the world, with a net worth of $71 billion. With Facebook FB -0.34% under scrutiny as the unwitting apparatus of fake news and alleged election meddling by the Russians, Zuckerberg has a new goal for 2018: fix Facebook. Still, young Zuck is riding high on the Forbes list: Facebook’s stock is up 32% in the last year, adding $15 billion to his fortune.
Among the notable newcomers are two new Russian techies. The ultimate matchmaker, Andrey Andreev founded Badoo in 2006; today it is the world’s largest online dating site with over 377 million users in 47 languages across 190 countries. He was also an initial backer and is majority shareholder of Bumble, America’s fastest-growing dating app. Pavel Durov, known as the Russian Mark Zuckerberg, founded Russian social media network Vkontakte in 2007. The bigger chunk of his fortune lies in Telegram Messenger, an encrypted messaging app he cofounded that has more than 100 million users worldwide.
Several newcomers in the tech sector hail from other burgeoning tech locales. Turkey’s Melih Abdulhayoglu debuts with a net worth of $1.6 billion. He founded Comodo Group, a cybersecurity company that is one of the largest issuers of SSL certificates for websites; he opened the company in the U.K. in 1998 before moving its operations to New Jersey in 2004. From South Korea, Lee Joon-Ho debuts with a net worth of $1 billion. Known as the pioneer of search engines in Korea, he is a cofounder of Naver , South Korea’s largest internet portal.
One newcomer is notable for being the third oldest tech billionaire, at 86 years old. Taiwan’s Morris Chang, a revered figure in the chip industry, finally broke into the billionaire ranks after a runup in the share price of Taiwan SemiconductorManufacturing. Chang earned undergraduate and master’s degrees from MIT as well as a Ph.D from Stanford before founding TSMC in 1987.
The youngest tech billionaire is Stripe cofounder John Collison who is worth $1 billion. He is a few months younger than SnapSNAP -1.32% cofounder Evan Spiegel, worth $4.1 billion. Collison launched payments startup Stripe with his older brother Patrick Collison (also a billionaire) in 2011. Spiegel cofounded the social media company Snap (formerly called Snapchat, for its app) with college friend Bobby Murphy, also a billionaire, and took the company public on the New York Stock Exchange in March 2017.
Forbes used stock prices and exchange rates from February 9, 2018 to calculate net worths.