Forbes released its annual list of the 400 richest Americans yesterday, and the most notable climber was Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook. In the last year his fortune has ballooned from $4.9bn to $6.9bn putting him at 35th on the list, just ahead of Rupert Murdoch - who, with a measly pile of $6.2bn, has to make do with 38th!
This means that Mark’s wealth has increased by an average of $13m a day for a whole year – which must be an indication of the continuing rise and rise of Facebook. Forbes' calculation of this extraordinary number is based on the $23bn valuation put on Facebook by its latest round of investment - a big jump from its previous round (it also propelled onto the list two of his other co-founders, Dustin Moskovitz and Eduardo Saverin, who Forbes reckons have racked up fortunes of $1.4bn and $1.15bn respectively).
Poor old Steve Jobs, by contrast, is worth 'just' $6.1bn - and even that's less to do with Apple and more to do with his shares in Disney (who bought his animation stable Pixar).
Once again, Bill Gates is top of the list for the 17th year in a row with a personal fortune of £34.4billion. Since taking a back seat from the company he has also become one of the most generous people in America, donating more than £17.2billion to charity through his own foundations. Investor Warren Buffett is at number two with $45bn.
It's actually been a positive year for America's richest: only 84 saw their wealth decrease unlike last year when 75% of the list lost money. The top 10 actually gained nearly $25bn, while the 400 as a whole saw their wealth swell by 8% - quite a gain, given how flat the stock market's been. Though we suppose it's not exactly a big surprise that rich people are better-than-average at investing.
These numbers just incomprehensible – they’re so huge. But it highlights the difference between the super rich and ‘normal’ families both in America and beyond who are struggling to pay the bills. Perhaps this will encourage more of these billionaires to follow the lead of Bill Gates and give more of their money away. Mark Zuckerberg himself has just donated a cool $100m to Newark schools. That's a whole week's wages gone, just like that...
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016