‘ Forbes 400’ Releases 34th Annual List of Richest Americans.


The Forbes 400 releases the 34th annual list of the Richest Americans this year. Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and CEO Mark Zuckerberg both zoomed into the top 10 richest for the first time. Bill Gates topped the list, followed by Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison. Bezos, the biggest gainer on the list, up $16.5 billion in one year, is now the fourth richest American, worth $47 billion. Zuckerberg is number seven, with a net worth of $40.3 billion. A rise in Nike shares lifted founder Phil Knight, age 77, back into the top 20 for the first time in 18 years.

It was harder than ever to join The 400. The price of entry this year was $1.7 billion, the highest it’s been in the 34 years that Forbes has tracked American wealth. Last year it took $1.55 billion to make the cut. Because the bar is so high, 145 U.S. billionaires missed the list.

Bill Gates is the richest American for the 22nd year in a row, with a net worth of $76 billion. His stake in Microsoft, which he cofounded 40 years ago, now accounts for just under 13% of his fortune. His friend Warren Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, occupies the number two spot on The 400 (he’s been ensconced there since 2001), with a net worth of $62 billion. Larry Ellison, chairman of business software firm Oracle, comes in at number three, with a net worth of $47.5 billion. In percentage terms, Travis Kalanick, founder of ride-hailing service Uber, gained the most, doubling his fortune since last year to $6 billion. Investors have valued Uber – which has faced plenty of controversy around the world – at more than $50 billion.

There are 25 newcomers to The Forbes 400, including Evan Spiegel, the youngest person in the ranks, and the youngest billionaire in the world. Just 25 years old, the Stanford University graduate cofounded mobile messaging app SnapChat with Bobby Murphy, just 27 and also a newcomer.  Snapchat has been valued by investors at $16 billion. Other newcomers include private equity titan Robert Smith, the second-richest African-American, after Oprah Winfrey; and the three cofounders of rental-accommodations service Airbnb: Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia.

Altogether the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth $2.34 trillion, up $50 billion from a year ago. The average net worth of list members is $5.8 billion, $100 million more than last year and a record high. About half – 202 of the 400 –  are worth more now than they were a year ago, while 119 people from last year’s list had lower net worth this year. Thirty-five people fell off the list, either because their fortunes dropped or they couldn’t keep up with the rest. Our estimates are a snapshot of the wealthiest Americans’ net worth on Sept. 11, when we locked in numbers and rankings. Some of The Forbes 400 become richer or poorer within weeks, even days, of publication. In rare instances, someone passes away after we’ve gone to press with the ranks. That’s what happened this year with legendary investor Richard Rainwater, who died of a rare neuro degenerative disease, something he’d been battling since 2009.