The 10 Richest in America

Excerpted from Forbes: “The Top 10 Richest”,  October 06, 2008

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This year the 10 richest tycoons on The Forbes 400 could buy the bottom 175.

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William H. Gates III $57 billion

  • Sells shares each quarter … more than half of fortune is outside Microsoft.
  • The $36 billion Bill & MelindaGates Foundation donates to causes such as fighting hunger in developing countries, improving education in America’s high schools and developing vaccines against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.
  • Inflation-adjusted net worth would top $90 billion if he hadn’t given away any cash.

Warren Buffett $50 billion — Investments.

  • Studied under value investing guru Benjamin Graham at Columbia.
  • Berkshire Hathaway holding company invested in insurance (Geico, General Re), jewelry (Borsheim’s), utilities (MidAmerican Energy), food (Dairy Queen, See’s Candies). Also has noncontrolling stakes in Anheuser-Busch , Coca-Cola , Wells Fargo.
  • Iconic investor crowned the world’s richest man in march as Berkshire Hathaway shares ran up 25% between July 2007 and February 2008. Berkshire stock has fallen 15% since, erasing $12 billion
  • Irrevocably earmarked the majority of his Berkshire shares for charity in 2006, mostly to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Has given $6 billion worth of shares so far.
  • Note: (a) Under the Obama tax plan, he’ll still be paying a lower rate than his secretary (b) By bequeating his estate to the Gates Foundation, he’ll pay zero esrate taxes

Lawrence Ellison $27 billion  — software, Oracle.

  • Database titan continues to buy up would-be competition; more than 40 acquisitions in the past 4 years.
  • Studied physics at U. of Chicago, didn’t graduate.
  • Owns 453-foot Rising Sun; built a smaller leisure boat because superyacht is hard to park.

Jim C. Walton $23.4 billion
S. Robson Walton $23.3 billion
Christy Walton & family $23.2 billion
Alice Walton $23.2 billion

  • Sons, daughter and daughter-in-law of Wal-Mart pioneer Sam Walton (d. 1992)
  • Wal-Mart is world’s largest retailer: 7,300 stores, 2 million employees serve 200 million customers. Sales: $378 billion.
  • Company become eco-friendly through partnership with environmental group Conservation International.

Michael Bloomberg $20 billion — financial services

  • Mayor Mike owns 88% of the financial data and news outfit he founded in 1982.
  • Boston-born son of accountant got engineering degree from Johns Hopkins, M.B.A. from Harvard.
  • Created financial information services firm Innovative Market Systems to sell financial data, analytic tools to Wall Street. Renamed Bloomberg LP 1987; added news service, magazine, cable network, radio station.
  • Spent $74 million to become mayor of New York City in 2001 and $85 million on reelection in 2005.
  • Has given away nearly $800 million to charity in the past 5 years; with Bill Gates, planning to invest hundreds of millions to combat smoking worldwide.

Charles Koch $19 billion
David Koch $19 billion

  • Father, Fred C. Koch (d. 1967), invented method of turning heavy oil into gasoline.Brothers transformed family refining business into America’s largest private company.  
  • Koch Industries has stakes in pipelines, refineries, fertilizer, fibers and polymers, forest and consumer products, chemical technology.
  • Sales last year: $98 billion. Employs 80,000 workers in 60 countries.
  • Charles: studied nuclear and chemical engineering at MIT, cofounder of conservative think tank Cato  David: Chemical engineering degrees from MIT; pledged $100 million to alma mater for cancer research last year. Pledged another $100 million to New York’s Lincoln Center this July.

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Full article:

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