- Nick Burgess
The Top 5 Richest People In The World, and Their Controversies
Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Today we're doing a billionaire rundown! Sure, you've heard their names, but do you really know how they made their money? Let's hop into the top five richest people in the world, and what they do for a living.
5. Mark Zuckerberg, 37 - $124.4 billion
The Good: You know the Zuck. You probably found this article through one of the platforms he owns. Zuckerberg is the enigmatic founder and CEO of Meta Inc (previously Facebook), which now has Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus under its ever-expanding social media portfolio. The true genius of Zuckerberg, though, is not the connecting of people, but the commoditizing of them. For Facebook, the user is not the consumer, it's the product. The trade in selling your ad preferences to advertisers, and they do it in the most effective and efficient manner in human history. He's pioneered the modern day billboard and continues to expand that reach into other avenues like the companies mentioned above.
The Not So Good: He's not without his issues, however. He was hauled in front of Congress to testify as part of the Donald Trump-Cambridge Analytica debacle, and his company continually find themselves embroiled in privacy and data issues. He also has a very unique way of celebrating the Fourth of July.
4. Bill Gates, 65 - $128.4 billion
The Good: Previously seen as the real life philanthropic progenitor to Kermit the Frog, Gates is perhaps more famous for his second act than his first. Gates, along with eccentric LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and the late Paul Allen, founded Microsoft in 1975. Together, they invented the microprocessor, which allowed computers to shrink down from the size of a room to the size of your desk. He single-handedly introduced the PC revolution and changed the world forever. Then, in classic overachiever fashion, he outdid himself by establishing the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which uses Gates' considerable wealth to solve world issues, like third-world toilets and the eradication of certain parasites. He also partnered with fellow wealthy person Warren Buffett to form "The Giving Pledge," which openly invites billionaires to donate a majority (if not entirety) of their net worth to the foundation to continue solving global issues. So far, they have 40 billionaires from 25 countries committed.
The Not So Good: Bill Gates has recently epitomized the "2021 is coming for everyone" mantra when he and his longtime partner Melinda announced their divorce in May. They also made headlines this week when it was announced the two would be initiating a "trial period" of leadership of their foundation. If within two years the couple cannot work together amicably, Melinda will be bought out and Bill will lead the fund.
3. Bernard Arnault, 72 - $181.7 billion
The Good: This guy is far more famous outside the U.S than inside of it, and as a result, this may be the one most American's aren't familiar with. Arnault is the founder of LVMH, or maybe better known by its brand names: Louis-Vuitton Moet Hennessy. All four parts of that brand ooze luxury, and Arnault knows it. His dramatic net worth increase was fueled by record LVMH revenues of $17 billion in Q1 2021, partly driven by the unleashing of consumers back to stores. LVMH brands have also gained significant traction in China, opening them up to a new sales and revenue avenue globally. He also donated 200 million euros to restore Notre Dame after the 2019 fire.
The Not So Good: This one is dependent on your politics, but Arnault was frequently criticized for his continued ties to former President Donald Trump, especially around the opening of a new factory in Texas. He was also depicted as a corporate tycoon villain in the French film "Merci Patron," and struck out at the "extreme leftists" as a result. Not great PR.
#2. Jeff Bezos, 57 - $213.3 billion
The Good: After briefly losing his spot as the world's richest person to Arnault, he catapulted back to #1 after Amazon shares soared to start 2021. However, our new number 1 ousted Bezos after the biggest single year rise in net worth in modern history, but more on him later. The man who pioneered selling books online is now pioneering everything else. He made headlines earlier this year by saying goodbye to the company he founded in Amazon and handing over the keys to the corner office to Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassey. He's left to engage in a billionaire battle with fellow magnate Richard Branson as they race to build the world's most reusable rocket. He also owns the Washington Post, which is a frequent target of Bill O'Reilly disciples everywhere.
The Not So Good: "Jeff Bozo" was a popular refrain from former President Donald Trump in his now shut down Twitter account (hilariously creative, by the way). Amazon has also come under considerable fire from Congress in anti-trust conversations due to the number pies they have their fingers in. Don't be surprised if the Bezos departure begins the conversation around a possible breakup into Amazon Retail and Amazon Web Services.
1. Elon Musk, 50 - $266 billion
The Good: We now come to the only man on the planet that had a decent 2020. Now let's get one thing straight: he wasn't poor in 2019. Far from it. His company, Tesla, had shown signs of life and were shipping cars left, right and center. Musk was worth $20 billion and everything was fine. Fast forward to the end of 2020 and it's a different story. Tesla's stock entered parabolic growth mode thanks to business fundamentals and a helping hand from Cathie Wood's ARK Invest. This, combined with compensation milestones in his executive package, saw Musk's net worth increase by $160 billion in a 12 month span, a modern record. And now that we're nearly at the end of 2021, he has continued to climb along with Tesla, as well as his private market darling SpaceX which just crossed $100 billion on the private markets.
The Not So Good: Musk insists on picking fights with the SEC with his errant tweeting and media blitzes. He is not afraid to take on short sellers, even selling short-shorts and tagging noted short sellers in his announcements. He also likes to announce new features in ad-hoc fashion, usually by replying to random Twitter users with promises for new car features. Finally, Dogecoin. Elon was perhaps the single biggest reason why Dogecoin saw a beyond-meteoric rise in Q1 2021, which culminated with his hosting appearance on Saturday Night Live in May.
Who do you think will be next on this list? And don't forget to sign up for the email list to get these delivered directly to your inbox!