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Toppling Gates

Paran Balakrishnan | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on January 02, 2018

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos is now the richest man alive

For nearly a quarter century, William Henry Gates III has been Planet Earth’s richest man. But, according to Forbes magazine, the Bible of wealth calculation, for a number of weeks, there’s been a new man at the top — Amazon’s Jeffrey Preston Bezos, e-shopkeeper to the world. Not only has Bezos attained top spot, on Thursday he was worth $99.6 billion and is poised to become the first person worth $100 billion. Bezos’s wealth has been soaring almost as swiftly as one of the Blue Origin rockets he sends into space. Back in March, when Forbes published its 2017 Billionaire List, Bezos was third at $72.8 billion, behind perennial toppers, Gates ($86 billion) and Buffett ($75.6 billion). That was up from 2016 when Bezos was fifth with just $45.2 billion. Also ascending rapidly is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, at $56 billion, fifth in Forbes’ rankings (in real-time, he’s at $71 billion).

Is wealth-spotting a trivial journalistic pursuit? True, there’s a voyeuristic element, but also a more serious purpose. Wealth charts tell us about global trends and money movements. Back in the early 1990s, Japanese real-estate barons topped the list. They were replaced by the tech world stars. Asia’s rise is proven by the fact there are more Asian billionaires than ever with mainland China now having 76 mega-rich tycoons. Tencent’s Ma Huateng, with $45 billion, is the continent’s richest man, beating Mukesh Ambani who has $41.3 billion in real-time ranking. This year, Forbes identified 2,043 billionaires collectively worth $7.67 trillion. Amazingly, Forbes has found, whether the global economy’s stumbling or soaring, the richest are always growing richer. That’s a phenomenon it hasn’t been able to explain and maybe it’s best left that way.

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Published on January 02, 2018
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