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Here’s what billionaires have in common (and what we can learn from them)

Whilst many Aussies can reasonably expect to become millionaires (if you include the value of your home) over the course of their lives, the elusive ‘billionaire’ tag will (sadly) remain out of reach for most of us. Having a thousand million dollars is an offputtingly huge amount of wealth, but I think it’s worth examining what the richest people on the globe have in common and how they got their wealth in order to learn from their extraordinary success.

According to a report in the Australian Financial Review, the 15 richest billionaires in the US today, (as well as their net worth and associated companies/industries) are as follows:

  1.     Jeff Bezos, Amazon – $US114 billion
  2.     Bill Gates, Microsoft – $US106 billion
  3.     Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway – $US80.8 billion
  4.     Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook – $US69.6 billion
  5.     Larry Ellison, software – $US65 billion
  6.     Larry Page, Alphabet – $US55.5 billion
  7.     Sergey Brin, Alphabet – $US53.5 billion
  8.     Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg LP – $US53.4 billion
  9.     Steve Ballmer, Microsoft – $US51.7 billion
  10.     Jim Walton, Walmart – $US51.6 billion
  11.     Alice Walton, Walmart – $US51.4 billion
  12.     Rob Walton, Walmart – $US51.3 billion
  13.     Charles Koch, Koch Industries – $US41 billion
  14.     Julia Koch & family, Koch Industries – $US41 billion
  15.     MacKenzie Bezos, Amazon – $US36.1 billion

If you can get your head around the sheer weight of these numbers (and the odd pang of jealousy), the one thing that stands out to this writer is that most of these billionaires (including the top four) have got to where they are by starting their own companies, which many still lead today.

I myself value a company far higher if it is led by its founder, and this report, in my opinion, vindicates this view. It indicates not only capable and proven management, but that a company’s original vision and innovation remain intact. I also like to know that the leaders have significant skin in the game, as they say – knowing it is both my capital and theirs that they are looking after helps me trust that management has my interests as a shareholder at heart.

Foolish Takeaway

So if you want to become rich, it’s clear that starting your own Facebook seems to be the best way to do so. If this seems a little daunting (and I’m with you there), the advice I’m taking from this report is that founder-led companies like Afterpay Touch Group Ltd (ASX: APT) might be a good place to look at investing your money going forward.

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John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Sebastian Bowen owns shares of Facebook. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and recommends Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO and has the following options: long January 2021 $85 calls on Microsoft. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Alphabet (A shares), Alphabet (C shares), Amazon, and Facebook. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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