The class of 2015 features 16 billionaires who made their own fortunes. Seven inherited their wealth, including stakes in Estée Lauder, SABMiller and Chick-fil-A. Only three were women
Basketball, fried chicken, video games and Snapchat were among the gold mines are the businesses that lifted 25 newcomers onto The Forbes 400 this year.
The class of 2015 features 16 billionaires who made their own fortunes. Seven inherited their wealth, including stakes in Estée Lauder, SABMiller and Chick-fil-A. Only three were women. Here are the most notable newcomers:
Net worth: $3.8 billion. Age: 71.
Route to Riches: Born in Vietnam, immigrates to the U.S. in 1975 at age 31. Joins Abbott Reference Laboratories, heads up blood-plasma testing division. Out For Blood: Founds Rare Antibody Antigen Supply in 1980, acquires U.S. plasma centers. Twelve years later, launches Shanghai RAAS, supplies blood-derived products. Liquid Asset: Opens Napa Valley winery in 2014.
Net worth: $3.5 billion. Age: 56.
Route to Riches: Son of Dollar-Rent-a-Car founder Henry starts as a lawyer. Trades courtroom for boardroom. Founds Los Angeles real estate firm in 1992. Southern California Shopping: Flagship malls (The Grove and The Americana at Brand) are two of the most successful retail centers in the country. Now building new downtown for Pacific Palisades and a five-star resort in Montecito, near Santa Barbara. Political Dreams: Serves as commissioner for L.A. Police Commission (2001-2005) and Water & Power Department (1984-1993, 1996-2001). Next, a possible mayoral run.
Net worth: $3.3 billion. Age: 34.
Route to Riches: Advertises San Francisco apartment as a space to crash. Listing goes up on Airbedandbreakfast.com. Success leads to creation of Airbnb.com with pal Joe Gebbia. Later, Nathan Blecharczyk, too. Ever-Larger Lodging: Airbnb hosts 30 million people in a year through August 2015. Latest venture round reportedly values company at $25 billion.
Net worth: $2.5 billion. Age: 52.
Route to Riches: In high school, calls Bell Labs weekly for 5 months to earn internship. Gets it, earns Columbia MBA. Spends 6 years in M&A for Goldman Sachs, quits in 2000 to open own private equity shop, Vista Equity Partners. Baby Oracle: Makes killing buying and fixing up enterprise software firms. Cashing Out: Sells minority stake to Neuberger Berman in July 2015. More Than Michael: Fortune positions him as America’s second-richest African-American—behind Oprah Winfrey ($3 billion) but ahead of Michael Jordan ($1.1 billion).
Net worth: $2.1 billion. Age: 25.
Route to Riches: Geeky Stanford frat boy dreams up way to get cool with buddy Bobby Murphy. Creates disappearing photo-messaging app. Calls it Picaboo. Flops. Renames it Snapchat. Facebook Flirting: Mark Zuckerberg offers $3 billion for Snapchat in late 2013. No deal. A year and a half later, Snapchat reportedly scores a valuation as high as $19 billion. Wunderkind: At a quarter-century-old, ranks as the world’s youngest billionaire.