How many billionaires are there? How many are self-made?

With all of the vitriol now being cast at rich people, and with all of the broad-brush policy proposals to redistribute their wealth … you’re probably guessing a pretty big number, right?


Well, Forbes reports about 1,800 billionaires worldwide  … holding $7 trillion…   or roughly 7% of the total global gross domestic product.

1.800 isn’t a particularly big number, right?

But, even I concede, they skew the distribution of wealth.

The billionaires always seem to get caricatured as Saudi princes, one of Sam Walton’s descendants  or Paris Hilton – all just lucky by birth and clearly undeserving.

Well, PwC’s think tank dug deeper into the numbers and uncovered some facts that tend to disrupt the popular narrative …


According to the PwC study:

About 2/3’s of the world’s billionaires aren’t just born luck … they’re self-made.

And, there are a couple of common factors that seem to transcend their wealth accumulation.

Most started out at big companies.

Think, Bloomberg at Salomon Brosthers, Steve Case at Pepsi.

Then, they either got restless or thought that they came up with an idea – the next best thing.

Interestingly, their first venture may have put them on the map, but wasn’t the one that got them to billionaire status.

Rather, the self-made billionaires tend to be serial entrepreneurs … continually plowing much of their money into the next big idea.

So, it’s the accumulation of wealth over time – with a little miracle of compounding —  that gets them to the top.


In addition, the PwC study posits that the self-made billionaires are “producers” who share 5 common traits.

More on the common traits is a subsequent post …



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