The young billionaires of tech

For the dogged and intuitive, a wealth of success awaits. The key is in finding a niche, a unique entry to the market that drums up interest and investment. From productivity apps to video games and blood tests, here are the newest billionaires grabbing headlines.

Name: EVAN SPIEGEL
Company: SNAPCHAT
Age: 24
Worth: USD $1.5 BILLION

Amid the rumours that this Mission Impossible inspired image self-destruct app wasn’t safe anymore after it was hacked, Snapchat is still a massive player in the lives of the new generation. There’s something hypnotic about being ‘in the now’ with your closest friends and celebrities posting little snippets of their lives that are only available for 24 hours before it’s gone forever – those with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) are consumed with this thought.

Evan Spiegel, an LA-born entrepreneur who dropped out of Stanford to work on Snapchat,gained notoriety in 2013 for turning down a USD $3billion offer from Facebook to acquire Snapchat. Since then the attention has gotten bigger for the CEO, as well as the net worth of Snapchat. The latest update of the smartphone app is tackling how we perceive video conversations, allowing you to seamlessly drop in and out of video conversations with friends.

There are talks of a USD $200million investment from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which goes to show Spiegel’s not planning to disappear quickly at all.

Name: DUSTIN MOSKOVITZ
Company: ASANA
Age: 31
Worth: USD $1.5 BILLION

Officially born into the world November 2011, Asana has become one of the major players in how businesses keep productive through the use of its web-based software and phone app – essentially a project manager sans email chains. Dustin Moskovitz nailed the new-generation project management platform with its simplicity for complex projects.

He was also Facebook’s third employee and co-founder, leaving in 2008 with another Facebook employee, engineer Justin Rosenstein, to start Asana. The service is used by some pretty large companies – even Uber.

The second youngest billionaire in the US at age 31, Moskovitz has invested in Path – a simple ad-free social media platform – and has, through his philanthropic firm aptly named Good Ventures, invested in Vicarious, a startup that is “building software that thinks and learns like a human”. He’s also signed The Giving Pledge – created by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet – to give most of their wealth through philanthropic causes. Moskovitz isn’t finished though, and is definitely one to watch.

Name: RYAN GRAVES
Company: UBER
Age: 31
Worth: USD $1.4 BILLION

There’s quite a remarkable tale for Graves, who can brag that just one tweet changed his life at the start of 2010. Co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick posted a tweet about a lucrative job offer as a product manager for a location-based service. Replying “here’s a tip. Email me :)” earned Graves a job working for a startup called Uber. Shaking things up for cab drivers by making ridesharing with strangers accessible, the location-based transportation app is taking off around the world now. Graves had previously been working for Foursquare, another location-based app, where he got his foot in the door through ambitious means. With business booming, he’s definitely a billionaire with youth on his side and gusto in his veins.

Name: MARKUS PERSSON
Company: MOJANG
Age: 36
Worth: USD $1.34 BILLION

Chances are your niece, nephew, son or daughter has either heard of this video game, or is currently playing it right now. A sandbox in a digital world, the simplicity of being able to construct whatever you want has been a big player in Mensa member Markus ‘Notch’ Persson’s growth from being a Swedish oneman team creating a game out of boredom in 2009 to having a 35-person company Microsoft sought to pay $2.5billion to acquire. While Microsoft has the game most young players love, Notch has a following grown organically through being a figure the community grew to idolise. While his next project has still not come to fruition – the company he’s set up to host his next possible project since leaving Mojang, called Rubberbrain, hasn’t announced any projects as of yet – he’s got the funds to make something he likes work. It might be a tough slog to regain the indie cred he built up since becoming a billionaire.

Name: NATHAN BLECHARCZYK
Company: AIRBNB
Age: 31
Worth: USD $1.9 BILLION

Chances are you’re more inclined to check out Airbnb when holidaying to get a more authentic experience. Homeowners around the world now have a platform where they can offer spare rooms – or even whole houses – to strangers in a simple and comfortable way. Building a sense of community through meeting new people via Airbnb feeds the traveller in all of us. The web and phone-based app took off with holiday-goers wanting to escape hotels and live in homes. Blecharczyk rents his own place out without sharing the fact he’s also one of the co-founders, to still participate in the full experience. It’ll be interesting what services will spawn from the optimistic world viewpoint of Blecharczyk.

Name: ELIZABETH HOLMES
Company: THERANOS
Age: 31
Worth: USD $4.5 BILLION

It’s not all about phone apps and video games, and it’s not all about men either. Elizabeth Holmes began with a blood testing company she started after dropping out of Stanford. The youngest self-made woman billionaire, her startup has found ways to test a drop of blood – not an entire vial like the conventional way – at a whole lot less of a cost. The method is versatile, detecting a number of infections in the blood, and is easily transported to less developed regions of the world. Investors like software company Oracle’s CEO Larry Ellison, as well as US drug retail giant Walgreens, have been trialling Theranos Wellness Centers to offer affordable tests. She’s the co-inventor on over 100 patents, including wearable blood monitors, and will no doubt be changing the world for good.

By Gerard Ward

Further Reading