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BLOG: Want to be a billionaire? Work for Microsoft, Google, Facebook, or Wal-Mart but not Apple

Preston Gralla | March 5, 2013
In Forbes most recent list of billionaires, Apple only has one single billionaire: Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs' widow.

If your goal in life is to be a billionaire, start making out your job application to Microsoft, Google, Facebook, or Wal-Mart. In the most recent list of billionaires compiled by Forbes, six are are associated with Google, five with Wal-Mart, four with Facebook, and three Microsoft. As for Apple, there's only a single billionaire, Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs' widow.

There are plenty of familiar tech names on the list. Bill Gates is again the second wealthiest person in the world, with $67 billion. Google's CEO Larry Page comes in at number 20, with $23 billion, Sergey Brin is right behind him at 21 with $22.8 billion, and Eric Schmidt is at number 138 with $8.2 billion. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is number 51 with $15.2 billion, and Paul Allen is 53, with $15 billion.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg comes in at 66 with $13.3 billion, while Zuckerberg's Harvard roommate and Facebook co-founder is number 353 with $3.8 billion. Another Facebook founder, Eduardo Saverin, is number 670 with $2.2 billion. Facebook investor Sean Parker is number 736 with $2 billion.

Plenty of Waltons of Wal-Mart fame make the list -- in fact, every single one of the six Wal-Mart billionaires is a Walton.

As for Google's other billionaires, Andreas von Bechtolsheim, number 503 on the list with $2.8 billion, was one of the earliest investors in Google. David Cheriton at 882 with $1.7 billion was another early Google investor. And Kavitark Ram Shriram, number 922 with $1.65 billion, was yet one more early Google investor.

There are plenty of other familiar tech executives sprinkled throughout the list, notably Oracle's Larry Ellison at number five with $43 billion; Amazon's Jeff Bezos at 19 with $25.2 billion, and Dell's Michael Dell at number 49 with $15.5 billion.

If your goal in life truly is to become a billionaire, then the list shows that being a tech employee is not necessarily the way to get there. On the technology side, almost everyone on the list either founded a company or invested in it early. Apart from Steve Ballmer, few employees became billionaires.

The Forbes list hails financial accomplishments. But I wish that Forbes, or someone else, would compile an even more important list: The world's biggest philanthropists. The wealthy should be judged less on how much they accumulate than on how much they give back. If that list were compiled, Bill Gates would be a perennial number one, followed by Warren Buffet.


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