Who are the top 32 self made billionaires?
With the impending dawn of the first trillionaire expected before 2030, it’s time we asked, who are some of the world’s richest people, where have they come from, and what do they invest in? For our most recent Top 32 list, we’ve looked at the top self-made billionaires.
How have the top 32 been chosen?
We have collated a list of current billionaires who are self-made, as opposed to inheriting the money and growing with it. Some of these individuals come from almost nothing, whereas others came from middle-class backgrounds, ultimately all billionaires in this list have made their fortune from little-to-no funds, creating a true rags-to-riches story.
All net worths have been taken from Forbes ‘Real Time Net Worth’ as of the 8th of March 2023, apart from Lord Alan Sugar and Johnny Boufarhat, where the Sunday Times Rich list was used alongside currency converters.
This list is in no particular order.
Clive Calder set up his first record company in 1971, CCP Records, and moved to London in 1975 where he then co-founded the Zomba Group in 1976. Most notably, the subsidiary of Zomba, Jive Records, was established in 1981 and may be most well-known. Specialising in pop, hip-hop, and R&B, Jive Records has signed the likes of the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and NSYNC.
He became sole owner of Zomba Group after buying his co-founder’s 50%, but in 2002, he was given the opportunity to sell for $2.7bn, and resigned as CEO a year later.
John Caudwell is worth $2.9bn, but John Caudwell founded Phones 4u on the back of operating a car dealership, creating a deal for mobile phones in 1996 by buying in bulk and selling them on for a profit. He sold his stake in the company in 2006 and 2011.
Caudwell now focuses on philanthropic work and property development with his business, Caudwell. Caudwell Children helps disabled and autistic children across the UK, and Caudwell LymeCo promotes the health of sufferers of Lyme disease.
Amancio Ortega Gaona co-founded Inditex, which is best known for Zara fashion, with his ex-wife Rosalia Mera in 1975. He currently owns around 60% of the company.
In 1963, Ortega opened a small dressmaking workshop called Confecciones GOA, but made the move from maker to retailer when Zara was founded. Inditex also includes companies Pull & Bear, and Massimo Dutti, among others.
Ortega has also invested in real estate with American big tech companies amongst his tenant list, like in Spain, where Ortega rents offices to both Google and Apple.
Sir Richard Branson
After dropping out of school at the age of 15, Richard Branson launched his first business in 1968, Student magazine, which provided an alternative to the publications and school magazines of the time.
Branson started Virgin as a mail order record retailer in 1970, under the name Virgin Mail Order, and founded Virgin Records bricks-and-mortar stores after the success of Student magazine, signing the likes of the Sex Pistols and The Rolling Stones.
The Virgin brand has grown tremendously with notable brands including, Virgin Active, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin experience days, Virgin Galactic, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Radio, and non-profit foundation Virgin Unite.
Michael Jordan is best known for winning six titles with the Chicago Bulls, and largely regarded as the NBA’s greatest all-time player. Jordan has reportedly made $1.8bn from corporate partners such as Nike and his Air Jordan deal.
Jordan has equity stakes in companies like DraftKings, where he became a special adviser. He also co-owns 23xi racing team with Denny Hamlin, who owns a minority of the shares. Jordan became a minority stake owner for the Charlotte Hornets in 2006, later becoming Managing Member of Basketball Operations, and in 2010 sought to become majority owner, with the team now valued at $1.5bn.
Lord Alan Sugar
Best known for his appearance on the primetime BBC show The Apprentice, Lord Sugar’s origin is a well-known rags-to-riches story. His original business Amstrad, founded in 1968, produced consumer electronics, most notably selling car aerials from the back of his van.
His current ventures include being the Chairman of Amshold Group which owns Amscreen, an outdoor digital screens manufacturer, and Amsvest, an investment company. Lord Sugar’s main source of income stems from Amsprop, a property portfolio of prime London real estate established in 1985.
Hilton Schlosberg is the Vice Chairman and co-CEO of Monster Beverage. Alongside Chairman and co-CEO Rodney Sacks, the co-founders bought Hansen Natural Company in 1990 after the company filed for bankruptcy, and launched Monster Energy drink in 2002, changing the name to Monster Beverage in 2012.
Schlosberg is stated to have begun his business journey in AAF, a British company investing in firms making alloy wheels. In 2015, Coca-Cola bought a 16.7% stake in Monster Beverage for $2.15bn, opening global distribution. Schlosberg owns 8.7% of the company , a holding worth nearly £2.8bn and still serves as joint Chief Executive .
Shawn Carter, more notably known as Jay-Z, founded Roc Nation in 2008, signing the likes of Rihanna and Rapsody. Jay-Z also founded Roc Nations Sports in 2013, supporting athletes the same way the company supports musicians.
Shawn Carter also has an impressive investment portfolio adding to his net worth. He served as President of Def Jam Recordings, launched the ‘Made in America’ festival, acquired Armand De Brignac Spirit brand, and is the majority owner of 40/40 sports club and bars. He is also the co-owner of TIDAL, the global streaming service since 2015.
Executive Chairperson and Founder for Biocon Limited and Biocon Biologics Limited, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is worth $2.1bn, with a current 40% stake in Biocon.
She started her biotech journey in a rented shed in Bangalore in 1978 and was approached by the owner of Biocon Biochemicals, an Irish speciality chemicals company. With foreign ownership limited to 30% in India at the time, she started with a plan to produce enzymes. This expanded to the manufacturing of Papain and Isinglass, with the exportation of Papain to the US and Europe.
Sir James Dyson
‘Enjoy failure and learn from it. You never learn from success’ encapsulates James Dyson’s journey to become a self-made billionaire. Dyson became frustrated with his Hoover Junior, so, as an accidental engineer, redesigned the vacuum to be more efficient, using cyclone technology he saw at a local sawmill.
His first vacuum, G-Force, was sold in Japan for $2,000 apiece and won the 1991 International Design Fair Prize in Japan. With the royalties from the G-Force sales, Dyson set up Dyson Ltd, of which he serves as Founder and Chairman today.
George Soros is known as ‘the man who broke the Bank of England’, after shortening the British pound and making a profit of $1bn. Soros is the Founder and current Chair of Soros Fund Management, an asset manager for Open Society Foundations, founded in 1979.
Soros worked as Vice President for Arnold & S. Bleichroeder and used investor’s capital of $4m and $350 of his own money to create a hedge fund in 1969. By 1973, the hedge fund was worth $12m. This urged Soros to create his own hedge fund, Quantum Fund, which he managed between 1970 and 2000.
In 1998 Patrick Soon-Shiong acquired Fujisawa after selling in vitro generic drugs, and used the proceeds to create Abraxane, the cancer drug used primarily for pancreatic cancer. In 2010, Soon-Shiong sold his drug company Abraxis, and in 2008 sold American Pharmaceutical Partners for a combined total of $9.1bn.
Patrick founded biotech conglomerate holding company NantWorks LLC in 2011, which focuses on biotech, AI, and health care. He also has a 4.5% stake in the Los Angeles Lakers and acquired the LA Times and San Diego Tribune.
The founder of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg is most well-known for his creation of Facebook alongside his college roommates. The Meta platform currently includes popular apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Meta Quest, with Zuckerberg having a 13% stake in the conglomerate.
Zuckerberg co-launched Facebook as The Facebook in 2004 to connect Harvard students with one another. This stayed as a college app, reaching one million users by September of 2004, about seven months after launching. In 2004, Facebook generated ad revenue with the ‘Flyers’ project, but in 2007, Facebook Ads launched and saw a rapid increase in growth of around 30 million users between April and October 2007. Zuckerberg also has investments in companies like Bluefield Technologies and CarbonBuilt.
Warren Edward Buffett is the current Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a holding company with insurance as its main source of capital. Berkshire Hathaway is the parent company of several firms including Clayton Homes, Duracell, and NetJets. The company also has shares in Apple, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Kraft Heinz, and Mastercard, to name a few.
Buffett is a serial investor, relying on tried and tested rules of investing to work his way up, buying his first stock at 11, and making his first real estate investment at 14. Buffett and his investment company bought the remaining shares of Berkshire Hathaway, turning this merged company into a conglomerate.
Co-CEO of Bet365, Denise Coates took over her father’s company Provincial Racing, but in 2000, with the dawn of the internet, made the decision to invest in online betting.
In 2005, Bet365’s success was assured, so Coates sold the betting shops to Coral for $50m, and Bet365 now facilitates more than $65bn in bets annually.
In 2022, Denise Coates is said to have taken in one of the world’s biggest ever pay awards of £260m in annual pay and dividends, owning 50.2% of the company.
Worth $2.2bn, Michael Ashcroft made his fortune from buying and selling companies, like the home security giant ADT in 1987.
In 1977, after selling his first business, a cleaning company, he became Chairman of Hawley Group plc and transformed it into a successful business. But in 1988, he rebranded Hawley into ADT after a US merger and sold the new company to Tyco International in 1997 for $6.7bn. He has also invested in companies like Waterloo Investment Holdings Limited and Gusbourne plc, among others.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe
Sir James Arthur Ratcliffe is the Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of INEOS, a manufacturer of petrochemicals, speciality chemicals, and oil products.
After growing up in a council house in Manchester, Ratcliffe worked for BP and spearheaded a buyout of the chemicals business Inspec Group from BP in 1992. Ratcliffe later acquired INEOS plc from Inspec in 1998, accelerating INEOS with around 19 acquisitions in the first 10 years of owning the company.
Jeff Bezos is famous for his co-founding of Amazon and is currently Executive Chairman of the e-commerce giant, owning less than 10% of the company.
Amazon was founded out of his garage in 1994 as a website that sold books, with the aim of making it an ‘everything store’. Thanks to a $250k loan from his parents to get started, Amazon is now worth approximately $960bn.
Bezos also founded Blue Origin, a company that focuses on getting people living and working in space, and he owns The Washington Post. Bezos has acquired further wealth with strategic investments in companies like Airbnb, Inc., Uber Technologies, and Alphabet Inc.
Sergey Brin, along with Larry Page, co-founded Google, and is currently a Board Member of Google and subsequently Alphabet Inc., encapsulating Google and its various interests as a conglomerate. Alphabet’s net worth was $1,211.41bn in February 2023. Brin owns approximately 6% of Alphabet’s shares, and, with ‘super-voting’ shares, Larry and Sergey together own 51%, 25% of which are his.
Page conceived the idea of the search engine, and alongside Brin’s mathematic ability, they created an algorithm designed to rank internet results based on linking behaviour, and in 1998, the company began its journey thanks to a $100k cheque from Andy Bechtolsheim.
John Bloor established Bloor Homes in 1969 when Bloor built his first home after training as a plasterer. Two years later, he set up his own building company, becoming a successful private property developer.
Bloor’s other venture is Triumph Motorcycles, which he bought in 1983. Saving the well-known brand from bankruptcy, he licensed a small shop until 1985. He invested over £80m into rebuilding the marque and opened the Hinckley factory in 1991. Bloor’s assets are predicted to have made him an estimated $2.29bn in 2020-21.
William Henry Gates III co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. The company was originally founded to develop software for Altair 8800, an early personal computer, and accelerated after a partnership with IBM in 1980 caused Microsoft to begin receiving royalties.
Microsoft includes such brands as Xbox, launched in 2001, and Bing, unveiled in 2009. Gates stepped down as Chairman but remained on the board and served as technology adviser in 2014. He now owns 1.3% of Microsoft’s shares. Gates is also a serial investor, with companies like Deere & Co. and Ecolab inc., and helped launch TerraPower, an environmentally friendly form of nuclear energy.
John Grayken is the Founder and Chairman of private equity firm Lone Star Funds, which he founded in 1995, as well as an avid investor. Lone Star Fund’s commitments have a total of approximately $86bn. Grayken is also the founder of Hudson, a full-service asset management company, managing Lone Star buys.
Grayken started out in Morgan Stanley’s real estate group and went on to work with Texas billionaire Robert Bass, who partnered with Brazos, a partnership which Grayken oversaw. Grayken was also put in charge of a $130m partnership to purchase 1,300 ‘bad bank’ assets, flipping them to make a profit, but left Robert Bass to pursue Lone Star Funds and raised $400m.
David L. Steward is the Founder and Chairman of IT provider World Wide Technology (WWT). Founded in 1990, today the company is the largest Black-owned company in the United States, with Steward holding a 59% stake.
Steward sold railed services with the Missouri Pacific Railroad company, then joined FedEx as a Senior Account Executive. Steward borrowed $2,000 from his father to launch Transportation Business Specialists, and subsequently founded Transport Administrative Services, the successful start-up companies that led Steward to begin WWT with a handful of employees.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty is the CEO and owner of Fenty Beauty, a company launched in 2017 following the failure of the makeup industry to be truly inclusive to all skin tones and types.
Rihanna was discovered in Barbados by Evan Rogers. The then 16-year old’s demo was sent to Def Jam Recordings, where she was invited to audition and signed a six-album record deal. Rihanna also has a 30% stake in the Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which was founded in 2018.
Nathan Kirsh heads the Kirsh Group which holds a majority stake in his business Jetro Holdings, owning over 70% of the company, this is the parent company of Jetro Cash and Carry and Restaurant Depot. Whilst Jetro Holdings is his main source of income, Kirsh has multiple ventures in multiple countries, like a security systems firm in Isael from the late 1970s until 2014.
Kirsh joined his mother running their original malt factory in 1952 and launched his own corn milling and malt business later in Eswatini. In 1970 he acquired Moshal Gevisser, becoming a dominant food retailer in South Africa. In 1976, Kirsh launched Jetro Cash and Carry in Brooklyn, New York, and bought Restaurant Depot in 1994.
During the pandemic, the founder of Hopin, Johnny Boufarhat created an all-in-one event management platform making planning, producing, and reliving event experiences easier.
Covid-19 became an accelerant for remote and virtual events, and Boufarhat found 3D platforms and webinars weren’t up to the standard he hoped. Originally a coder, he wrote the code for an online events platform to meet people and raised money from investors. Low pricing plus a high demand during the pandemic saw profits rise.
Co-Founder, Chairman, and CTO of Oracle, Lawrence Ellison owns around 35% of the company, having relinquished his position as CEO in 2014. He also has stakes in Tesla, along with real estate holdings, amounting to his staggering net worth.
Alongside fellow Oracle Co-founders, Bob Miner and Ed Oates, Ellison dropped out of college to start a company that developed relational databases. Intending on developing a software that works alongside IBM, but becoming a competitor instead, a working version of Oracle Version 1 was created by 1978, but never released. This company grew as it improved its database and suite of software products.
Oprah Winfrey is the Founder, CEO, and Owner of Harpo Productions, a multimedia production company, but Oprah is best known for her hit TV show The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah also owns O Magazine, launched in 2000 and has since been rebranded to Oprah Daily and Oprah Insider, a subscription site launched in 2021.
Oprah was originally a news reporter and rose in popularity to do a 30-minute morning show called AM Chicago. Oprah licenced for a national audience through syndication, renaming it to The Oprah Winfrey Show, later expanding and buying the Network to create the Harpo Entertainment Group.
Sir Christopher Hohn
Sir Christopher Anthony Hohn is a notable investor and philanthropist. He invested in a wide array of industries, including manufacturers and consumer product companies after joining Richard Perry’s hedge fund, Perry Capital in 1996 and launching his own portfolio.
He co-founded The Children’s Investment Fund in 2002 and is currently Chairman. He is a successful investor that gives generously to charitable causes.
Ex-CEO of Glencore, Alexander Beard holds a 2.5% stake in Glencore, a natural resource company. Beard became CEO of the company in 1995, until retiring in 2019. Before this, Beard was an oil trader for BP from 1990-95, and worked his way up the company to become Chief Executive Officer.
In a significant move away from the economy Beard gained his net worth from, Beard is now the Director and shareholding founder of Adaptogen Capital, which focuses on renewable energy opportunities.
Founder of Graff Diamonds, Laurence Graff set up a business with a more experienced jeweller repairing Victorian jewellery at 18. Later meeting a diamond dealer led Graff to put 33 diamonds on one ring, starting his diamond business.
Graff Diamonds was established in 1960, and two-years later opened two retail boutiques in London, gradually increasing brand awareness and taking it to a global market.
Today, Graff owns a polished diamond trading firm in Switzerland, real estate in Mayfair, and a stake in a South African diamond wholesaler. As well as owning Delaire Graff Estate, a vineyard and winery with a boutique hotel and restaurant in South Africa.
Joseph Lewis is the owner and Chairman of the Tavistock Group, an investment and holdings group for large-scale developments, commercial, and residential properties, including the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur and Mitchells & Butlers.
Lewis founded Tavistock Group in 1975 in Nassau, Bahamas after selling the family business, Tavistock for $40m. Joe then moved into currency trading from 1979 and allegedly made more than £1bn short selling the Mexican peso and the British pound in the 1990s.
Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group, which is comprised of Cassava Technologies and Econet Wireless.
Masiyiwa first launched Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the largest of his Econet group, in 1998, and owns just over 50% of the business. He returned to Zimbabwe after fleeing when he was seven with his family. He joined Zimbabwe Posts and Telecommunications Corporations, the state-owned telephone company, but left after he became frustrated with the government bureaucracy, and started an electrical contracting firm called Retrofit Engineering.
Masiyiwa saw the potential for wireless in sub-Saharan Africa due to the lack of fixed-line phones and the threat of copper wire theft. He sold Retrofit Engineering in 1994 to start Econet Wireless Zimbabwe.
Judy Faulkner founded the $3.8bn (according to 2022 sales) company Epic Systems in 1979 and currently has a stake of 47%.
Faulkner taught herself coding in a week during her undergraduate degree. Following her graduation, Faulkner began digitising patient records and was approached by a research group at the University to create a system to track patient data over time.
Epic Systems began with three employees in a basement near the university but saw rapid growth in 2003. Kaiser Permanente chose Epic to provide electronic systems in their 36 hospitals for more than eight million members, with a £4bn.