The global economy is still crawling out of recession. Although the economic pain continues to be felt across the world, the fortunes of the 10 richest American technology giants rose a combined $13.6 billion in 2010 compared with their net worth in the Forbes 400 list. For them, the opportunities seem endless.
Let us have a look the top tech czars of the world.
1. Bill Gates
Bill (William Henry) Gates, chairman and co-founder of Microsoft, is a business tycoon and a philanthropist. He co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen.
His fortune climbed $4 billion in the past year. His net worth is estimated at $54 billion. According to Forbes, Gates is the second richest man in the world. He has held the top spot for 14 of the past 15 years in the past.
His stake in Microsoft is worth $16 billion. Gates wrote his first computer programme at age 13. Gates graduated in 1973, scoring 1,590 out of 1,600 on the SAT and enrolled at the Harvard College.
Microsoft stock was flat over the last year, despite brisk sales of the new Windows 7 operating system.
2. Larry Ellison
Born to an unwed Jewish woman, Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation, was adopted by a middle class family in Chicago.
His net worth is estimated at $27 billion. Ellison left the University of Illinois at the end of his second year, after his mother died. He later studied computer designing and moved to California.
There he did several odd jobs for eight years. In 1977, Ellison and his Ampex colleagues, Robert Miner and Ed Oates, founded Software Development Labs, with $1400. The company was later renamed Oracle Corporation.
Oracle is the world’s leading supplier of software for information management, and the world’s second largest software company.
The stock price of Oracle climbed 23 per cent on strong earnings in the summer quarter and news of hiring former HP CEO Mark Hurd as Oracle co-president.
The 65-year-old Ellison often hits the headlines for his extravagant and flamboyant lifestyle.
3. Sergey Brin
Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, was born in Moscow.
California-headquartered Google Inc is a multinational public cloud computing, Internet search, and advertising technologies corporation which was founded in 1998 by Stanford students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
Google today runs over one million servers in data centers around the world, and processes over one billion search requests every day.His net worth is estimated at $15 billion.
Google has lost some of its market share in search to Microsoft’s Bing.
Google leads the development of the Android mobile phone operating system, used on a number of phones such as the Nexus One and Motorola Droid. Alexa lists Google as the Internet’s most visited website.
4. Larry Page
Larry Page, Google’s other co-founder ,was born into a Jewish family in Michigan.
His net worth is estimated at $15 billion. The world’s No.1 search engine, Google has seen an impressive growth in these 12 years with profit to the tune of $6.520 billion and total assets of $40.497 billion.
His fortunes witnessed a drop $300 million from last year. Page pays himself $1 a year in salary.
Besides, Gmail e-mail software, and social networking tools, including Orkut and, more recently, Google Buzz, Google’s products extend to the desktop as well, with applications such as the web browser Google Chrome, the Picasa photo organization and editing software, and the Google Talk instant messaging application.
He was as an early investor in Tesla Motors, maker of the pricey all-electric roadster.
5. Michael Dell
Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Inc, one of the world’s most successful IT companies. He was born in Houston.
His Dell Computer has been struggling, but the large majority of the Dell founder’s fortune now lies with investments made by MSD Capital, the 80-person investment firm created to manage his assets.
His net worth is estimated at $14 billion.
Dell became an entrepreneur at a very young age of 12, made his first $1,000 by selling stamps, and later sold newspaper subscriptions for Houston Post, making enough money to buy a BMW at 16.
His net worth is down $500 million from a year ago as the stock fell 29 per cent last year.
6. Steve Ballmer
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s high-energy chief executive, was born in Detroit, Michigan.
His net worth is estimated at $13.1 billion.
Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980, and became Microsoft’s first business manager hired by Gates
He has overseen a successful launch of the newest Windows operating system amid continued stumbles in consumer tech, like the failure of its Kin phone. His net worth is down $200 million from last year.
7. Paul Allen
Paul Gardner Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates. His wealth is estimated at $12.7 billion.
He was born in Seattle, Paul Allen befriended Bill Gates while in school.
Allen attended Washington State University, dropping out two years later to write software.
Two years ago, Allen was back in the news for funding the SpaceShipOne sub-orbital commercial spacecraft.
In 1983 he left Microsoft. His net worth is up $1.2 billion from 2009. His holding company Vulcan invests in technology including space travel and artificial intelligence.
Recently his Interval Research sued the biggest companies in Silicon Valley for patent infringement.
8. Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos is the founder, president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Amazon.com.
Amazon.com, an electronic commerce company is America’s largest online retailer. It climbed five spots to rank at 6, from the 11th position it held in 2009.
Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, it started as an online bookstore, but soon diversified to product lines of VHS, DVD, music CDs and MP3s, computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, toys, and so on.
Amazon has established separate websites in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, and China.
His net worth is estimated at $12.6 billion. Bezos has sold $400 million of Amazon shares since January 2010.
A 30 per cent surge in the value of Amazon stock boosted Bezos net worth by $3.8 billion over the past 12 months.
Bezos still has 90 per cent of his net worth tied up in Amazon stock.
9. Mark Zuckerberg
An American entrepreneur, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is known for co-founding the popular social networking site Facebook.
Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook with fellow classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while attending Harvard.
Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York to a Jewish family and raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He started programming when he was in middle school. Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm room on February 4, 2004.
His net worth is estimated at $6.9 billion. As the value of social-networking site Facebook surged in the last year, founder Zuckerberg’s net worth tripled.
The company’s revenue expected to top $2 billion in 2010. Private-equity investments in Facebook put the value of the company at $23 billion.
10. Steve Jobs
Steven Paul Jobs is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. In 1976, Jobs, founded Apple along with Stephen Wozniak and Ronald Wayne.
Jobs previously served as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios and is now a member of the Walt Disney Company’s board of directors.
Jobs was born in San Francisco and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California.
His net worth is estimated at $6.1 billion. Apple’s market capitalization overtook that of Microsoft in May and it became the most valuable US company.
Apple seems unstoppable, with the release of the iPad tablet computer in April and new versions of the hot-selling iPhone.
Job’s owns shares worth $4.4 billion in Disney. His net worth grew $1 billion in the last year.