January 22, 2024 | Reid Kerr-Keller

Who Is The Richest Man In The World?

Who Is The Richest Person In The World? 

Every year, Forbes releases a list of the world’s wealthiest individuals. It’s the definitive ranking, cited by newspapers, websites, and blogs across the globe. In recent years, the title of the wealthiest person on the planet has gone to Jeff Bezos, the enigmatic founder of the online shopping giant, Amazon.

Bezos is also the first person in history to exceed $100 billion in personal net-worth. He is inconceivably wealthy. Although the exact number is subject to constant fluctuation, his total personal wealth currently sits around $150 billion. That’s roughly equivalent to the GDP of Afghanistan and Cambodia combined

He is an almost implausibly wealthy man...but he's not the richest.

richest man in the world

How Did Jeff Bezos Make His Money?

In 2023, Bezos was booted from the top spot on the list of the richest people in the world. He now finds himself in third place, which considering his billionaire status, is still pretty darn impressive. So how did he get where he is today? 

In 1993, while on a cross-country road trip from New York City to Seattle, Jeff Bezos wrote a business plan. The idea was an online bookstore, where customers could place orders, review products, and receive shipments, all from the comfort of their home.

He called the new business Amazon, after the river in South America. He later confessed to picking the name partly because it would show up early in a phonebook.

Who Is the Richest Man in the World?Getty Images Jeff Bezos

Growth Spurt

Amazon was quickly successful. He took a $300,000 investment from his parents, and within three years was ready to take the company public with an IPO (Initial Public Offering)—an opportunity for investors to purchase a piece of the rapidly growing company.

Then, in 1998, the company made its first move toward becoming the behemoth it is today. Under Bezos’s guidance, Amazon began to distribute music and video online. It was the company’s first departure from book retailing—and it proved to be wildly successful

Jeff Bezos wearing blue suit with white shirt smiling at cameraU.S. Space Force image by Van Ha, Wikimedia Commons

His Net Worth

Just a few short years later, Bezos was able to raise more than $50 million in venture capital, which he used to finance Amazon’s acquisition of smaller, competing online retailers, and to fund Amazon Web Services, which would grow to become a massive piece of Amazon’s future financial success.

As of December 2023, Bezos has a net worth of $168.4 billion. 

Amazon FactsWikimedia Commons

Who's Richer Than Jeff Bezos? 

In 2023, one of the men who raked in more riches that Jeff Bezos was Bernard Arnault. Arnault got his start early in life with some help from his father, who raked in millions of dollars from his construction business. Arnault's father gave the young entrepreneur $15 million, which he then used to purchase the luxury brand Christian Dior 

From there, Arnault's luxury goods empire skyrocketed. 

bernard arnaultForbes

What's His Net Worth? 

Today, Bernard Arnault is the CEO of LVMH, and has made it into the world's biggest luxury goods company. LVMH has 70 fashion and cosmetics brands under its belt, including the Louis Vuitton, Sephora, and Christian Dior. LVMH also recently bought Tiffany & Co. for an astonishing $15.8 billion. 

For the first half of 2023, Arnault was the world's richest person. But despite ending the year in second place, he still has a net worth of $200.7 billion. Not bad for runner up.

bernard arnaultForbes

So Who Is The Richest Man In The World? 

After a wild year with the purchase of X (formerly Twitter), Elon Musk proved he's still one of the world's most savvy businessmen. Known as the CEO of Tesla, the world-renowned electric car company, and his innovative rocket company, SpaceX, Musk has always been a forerunner on the list of the world's richest people.  

But how did he get to where he is today? 

Elon Musk in black jacket sittingJD Lasica, CA, US, CC BY 2.0 ,  Wikimedia Commons

Elon Musk's Path To Success

Musk got his start in 2000, when he helped to create PayPal. Two years later, eBay bought PayPal for a cool $1.4 billion. Musk took that payout and went on to create SpaceX.

In 2004, Musk signed on as an investor and the chairman of Tesla, what was then an up-and-coming venture. He was later named cofounder of the company and as its CEO, took Tesla public in 2010. Tesla was a massive success, and put Musk in upper echelons of the world's wealthiest people. 

In October 2022, Musk bought Twitter, which he renamed "X", for $44 billion. By all accounts, it was a bad business move, but Musk came out on top in the end

Elon Musk factsPicryl

The Richest Man In The World

Elon Musk's current fortune is mostly thanks to the success of Tesla. Through stocks, Musk owns 23% of the company and makes up nearly two thirds of his net worth. X, formerly known as Twitter, has also topped up Musk's bank account. It's estimated that he owns 74% of the company, which has worked out well for him despite it being worth far less than what he originally paid for it.

By the end of 2023, all of Musk's assets added up to a mind-blowing net worth of $251.3 billion, making him the richest man in the world. 

Elon Musk factsWikimedia Commons

Who Is The Richest Woman In The World?

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers owns the French beauty and personal care company L'Oréal. It’s a massive company, with more than 25 billion euros (28 billion USD) in revenue every year. That’s part of what makes Meyers the world’s richest woman.

She inherited the company from her mother, Liliane Bettencourt, in 2017. Although this means she is technically not a self-made woman, the company—and her fortune—has only grown since she took over. At the end of 2023, she had a net worth of $100 billion. 

Who Is the Richest Man in the World?Getty Images Liliane Bettencourt and her daughter Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers

Are There Any Other Female Billionaires? 

Overall, there are far fewer women among the world’s richest people than there are men. It is, perhaps, a hold-over from a more chauvinistic era...and a sign of the limitations still placed on women in the working world. 

As noted by Forbes, “of the 2,153 billionaires on the 2019 Forbes World’s Billionaires list, only 12% are women. More tellingly, while 73% of male billionaires are self-made, only 27% of female billionaires made their own fortunes".

The tide is slowly turning, though. Women like Oprah Winfrey, Diane Hendricks, and even Kylie Jenner are changing the way the expectations for women in business, and proving they are capable of just as much (if not more) than their male counterparts.

OprahNewhouseSU, Flickr

Sources:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8



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