These are the richest people in the world - as Elon Musk knocks Jeff Bezos off the top spot

Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 8:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 8:47 am

On 7 January 2021, it was announced that Tesla chief Elon Musk is the wealthiest person on the planet.

The Spacex entrepreneur overtook Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who had held the title of the world’s richest person since 2017.

But how much does Musk earn, and who are the nine other richest people in the world? Here is the line up and how they made their billions.

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1. Elon Musk

$186Bn (£136Bn)

The Tesla founder has multiplied his wealth by 548% in the past year, somewhat thanks to the US election.

The Democratic party led by Joe Biden is expected to introduce a new green energy policy which would see the purchase of his electric cars soar.

Musk’s shares in Tesla rose by 4.8% on the morning of 7 January, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index.

This was enough to push him into first place, ahead of Amazon chief Jeff Bezos.

Musk is now worth £1.5 billion more than Bezos, who had held the title since 2017.

Tesla’s top man tweeted in reference to the announcement: “how strange” followed by “back to work”.

He later added: “You should ask why I would want money. The reason is not what you think. Very little time for recreation. Don’t have vacation homes or yachts or anything like that.”

He explained: “About half my money is intended to help problems on Earth & half to help establish a self-sustaining city on Mars to ensure continuation of life (of all species) in case Earth gets hit by a meteor like the dinosaurs or WW3 happens & we destroy ourselves.” (how optimistic)

2. Jeff Bezos

$184Bn (£135Bn)

Founder, CEO, and president of the multinational technology company Amazon, Jeff Bezos was the richest person for three years, after overtaking Bill Gates in 2017.

However, his divorce settlement in 2019 saw him separate with £38 billion.

This wasn’t enough to knock him off the top spot, however, with Amazon taking advantage of the lockdown of businesses and shops in many countries, including the UK and USA.

Amazon reinvests money into businesses on its site, allowing for it to consistently lower prices as a means of fighting off competition.

Bezos famously said of his business approach: “You have to be willing to be misunderstood if you’re going to innovate.”

Bezos announced he would depart from Amazon, on 2 February 2021. he will be replaced by Amazon Web Services boss Andy Jassy.

3. Bill Gates

$123Bn (£97Bn)

The Microsoft co-founder was almost consistently the richest man in the world from 1995 to 2017 - overtaken only in 1997 by Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and in 2008 by Warren Buffett.

However he now sits $5.2 billion below Bezos, while still maintaining his place in the top 3.

In 2020, his charity, the Bill Gates Foundation, pledged $300 million to fighting the global coronavirus pandemic, including funding treatment, detection and vaccines.

The Bill Gates Foundation is now the largest private charity in the world.

The reason Gates no longer tops the billionaire’s list is partly due to giving away all but 1% of his Microsoft shares and stepping down as the Board Director in March 2020.

It is also thought he has now donated $35.8 billion to The Bill Gates Foundation.

4. Bernard Arnault

$106Bn (£77.9Bn)

The Frenchman is the richest person in fashion, being Chairman and Chief Executive of Louis Vuitton SE, the world's largest luxury goods company.

The 71-year-old is also an art investor and has been the richest man in the world for two brief stints, in December 2019 and January 2020.

He also bought Princess Yachts in 2008, for a reported 253 million euros.

5. Mark Zuckerberg

$100Bn (£73.5Bn)

The youngest billionaire on the list, Zuckerberg shot into the ranks thanks to his front-running social media platform, Facebook.

The 36-year-old founded the platform in February 2004, while studying at Harvard University.

In 2007, he became the world’s youngest ever billionaire, aged just 23.

He now also owns shares in Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, some of the largest and fastest growing social media platforms in the world.

6. Zhong Shanshan

$91.7Bn (£67.4Bn)

Asia’s richest man, businessman ShanShan, is worth a reported $91.7 billion. He chairs bottled water company, Nongfu Spring, and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, which makes hepatitis testing kits and vaccines.

Although no net worth is absolutely accurate, the Chinese billionaire’s is particularly difficult to calculate as he has only recently taken his pharmaceutical and bottled water companies public.

The 66-year-old dropped out of school during the Chinese cultural revolution, working as a construction worker, reporter and drinks salesman before building his own business.

7. Warren Buffett

$89Bn (£64Bn)

CEO of American holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett has been the largest shareholder in the company since 1970.

Buffett is known for his lack of shares in various companies, concentrating them in Berkshire Hathaway as a means of protecting managers from the uncertainty of the market.

The 90-year-old began his business ventures as a young boy.

He was interested in investment before the age of 10, selling chewing gum, Coca-Cola bottles, and weekly magazines door to door, before working in his grandfather's grocery store.

He has been a millionaire since 1962, earning his first billion at 60 years old, in 1990.

8. Larry Page

$67Bn (£49Bn)

The co-founder of search engine Google is a computer scientist, and board member of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc.

He originally spent time as CEO of Google, then as CEO of Alphabet Inc. but stepped down as a leader in 2019.

Page thanks his PhD dissertation topic of exploring the mathematical properties of the World Wide Web and his supervisor at Stanford University for his pursuit of understanding the internet and ultimately, furthering his research which resulted in the creation of Google.

9. Sergey Brin

$65Bn ($47.8Bn)

The partner of Larry Page, fellow computer scientist Brin also founded Google and Alphabet Inc.

He too stepped down as a leader of Alphabet Inc in December 2019, however remains a shareholder, board member and employee of Alphabet Inc.

The 37-year-old now focuses much of his time on climate change, investing in the philanthropic arm of Google, Google.org.

Through his eco-endeavours, he hopes to establish greater alternative energy sources. Google.org has a mission “to solve really big problems using technology”.

10. Larry Ellison

$79Bn (£58Bn)

Co-founder and executive chairman and chief technology officer (CTO) of Oracle Corporation, Ellison began his career at US electronics company, Ampex.

In the 1970s, he worked for the company to design a database for the CIA, which he named Oracle.

In 1977 he created his own data software company, Software Development Laboratories (SDL), which was renamed Oracle Systems Corporation in 1983.

In 2017, he became a Director of Tesla, and by December 2019, his wealth was largely attributed to his 36.2% shares of Oracle Corporation, and 1.7% shares of Tesla.