Oddly, being a billionaire has become a problem, at least in the United States. Congress considered, but rejected, a special tax on the 700 billionaire families in America to help fund everything from social services to highways. At least Tesla founder Elon Musk will sell enough of his stock in the electric car maker to put $15 billion into the IRS and the State of California treasury. He remains, however, among a group that includes Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and the Walton family, who inherited a large piece of the ownership of Walmart.
In the eyes of many, no one should be so rich without sharing their wealth with the larger society. Several billionaires have made pledges to give away most of their money to an organization called The Pledge, a philanthropic organization.
The United States is not the only home to billionaires. Forbes analysis shows that there are 2,744 billionaires in the world and they control $13.1 trillion. While many of them, like Musk and Bezos, started with nothing and became rich, the list also contains many people like the Waltons. This group of inherited billionaires makes up about a third of the total.
The analysis of the billionaire population has become an industry to itself. Billionaires are parsed into families and individuals, those who became billionaires recently and those who have had money for decades. Two lists show the movement of billionaire wealth in “real-time.” This exercise is something of a sham. Many billionaires have private holdings, like non-publicly held companies and vast amounts of land. These cannot be valued accurately, and their value certainly does not change daily, at least in a manner that can be measured.
The two so-called real-time lists of billionaires are maintained by Forbes and Bloomberg. (Michael Bloomberg is himself a billionaire.) Musk is at the top of both lists. Forbes recently showed his net worth at $300 billion, far ahead of second-place Bezos’s $210 billion. The Bloomberg list had Musk at $323 billion and Bezos at $201 billion.
These are Bloomberg’s top 10 billionaires in the world and their net worths in billions:
- Elon Musk ($323)
- Jeff Bezos ($201)
- Bernard Arnault ($172)
- Bill Gates ($138)
- Larry Page ($132)
- Sergey Brin ($127)
- Mark Zuckerberg ($126)
- Steve Ballmer ($120)
- Larry Ellison ($115)
- Warren Buffett ($105)