The number of billionaires in the world is at an all-time record high – 1,826 at Forbes’ latest count. Looking inward, it would appear making vast sums of money is getting easier by the year. The tech sector is booming, advancements in the area are seeing firms thrown wads of cash, currency their founders are understandably glad too take. Whether it’s through a full-scale buyout or stock ownership valuation, these are the men who have made a ludicrous amount of money in a mere 24 months.
SABEER BHATIA & JACK SMITH
Bhatia and Smith co-founded Hotmail in 1996 whilst they were both working at Apple. One of the world’s first webmail services, the idea today would be worth multiple tens of billions, but was sold to Microsoft for $400 million in 1997, not a bad profit for a years work really.
The Internet of Things – connecting everyday objects via a network – is taking off big time and Samsung got in on the game by buying firm SmartThings in 2014. Founded in 2012 by Alex Hawkinson, Samsung acquired the firm two years later for a modest $200 million.
The co-founder of Flickr, the photosharing site which Yahoo bought for $25m in 2005, went on to bigger, better, billion dollar things a near 10 decades later. Butterfield co-founded Slack in 2013 – in a year it was valued at $1.2billion and this was raised to $2.8million in March this year. Slack’s growth is phenomenal and Butterfield’s net worth is now pegged at $650m off of the back of it.
Virtual reality is having a moment; some of the biggest firms in the world are now developing the technology to bring the science-fiction pipedream to life. Palmer Luckey was ahead of them all when he started Oculus VR in 2012, a successful crowdfunding campaign raised $2,437,429 and Facebook coughed up $2billion to acquire the firm in 2014. Luckey certainly lives up to his name – his net worth is now estimated at $500million.
Founding Priceline.com in 1998, partially self-funding the startup, Walker’s timing was spot on as he caught the Dot-com bubble at the peak, taking the firm public in 1999. In 2000 Walker was worth $1.6billion off of the back of Priceline. The bubble burst, however, and Walker’s balance plummeted to $333million by the end of the year – he left the company shortly after.
Prior to Walker, Winnick was Forbes’ fastest billionaire and a victim of the telecom crash. He started Global Crossing, which laid the first privately financed underwater fibre optic cable network across the Atlantic Ocean in 1997, going public in 1998. Winnick was worth $1billion in just 18 months. Global Crossing later collapsed but Winnick made $734million by selling his shares 9 months before this happened.
A contentious one but the Hungarian-US investor and magnate managed to increase his wealth by 10-figures in just a day’s work. He short sold $10billion worth of pound sterling during the 1992 Black Wednesday UK currency crisis, making a profit of $1billion. He subsequently became known as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England”
ANDREW MASON & ERIC LEFKOFSKY
This duo founded one of the world’s fastest growing companies, Groupon, in 2008. In just two years it was worth over $1.3billion. It’s been in decline since and suffered some heavy losses after going public, but still made the co-founders close to a billion each, for a short amount of time at least.