Since 1987 we’ve been tracking the world’s wealthiest people. Globalization and technology of the 1980s pulled once distant corners of the planet much closer, inspiring a list–the first of its kind–to capture a picture of world’s richest in one place. “National boundaries still satisfy politicians,” the 1987 introduction to the first list stated. “But they no longer contain business people.”
Our inaugural edition counted only 140 billionaire individuals and families from just 24 countries. At the time, Japan was home to both the world’s richest man, real estate tycoon Yoshiaki Tsutsumi, and more billionaires than any other country besides the U.S. This year? We have a record 2,043 billionaires from 71 countries and territories. The U.S. still holds the most, but now China comes in second, and Bill Gates has held the title of World’s Richest Man for 18 of the last 23 years.
Each year’s list has served as a time capsule for the wealthiest capitalists. Their fortunes have ebbed and flowed with global economic forces. Over decades, Asia’s century gave way to the Asia crisis; the internet boom created unprecedented wealth that years later still hasn’t been replicated. The 2008 financial crisis wreaked havoc on hundreds. For others, wealth has been only fleeting, less so because of global turbulence and more due to specific miscalculations. James Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, founders of Research in Motion, which makes BlackBerry cellphones, joined as billionaires in 2007, but dropped off by 2012. Elizabeth Holmes was featured as world’s youngest self-made female billionaire in 2015, thanks to a venture round she raised at a sky high valuation. She fell off this year, amid allegations that the global blood-testing company Theranos’ products didn’t work as advertised. Then there is the spectacular fall of Eike Batista, once the 7th richest person in the world. His fortune plummeted from $30 billion to $300 million in 2014 after his Brazilian oil exploration firm declared bankruptcy.
Still there are those whose fortunes have stood the test of time: 19 super billionaires debuted on the 1987 list who are still alive today and still securely in the ranks. That includes legendary businesspeople with huge staying power and enormous influence like Warren Buffett and Li Ka-shing. David Rockefeller was among this group until his death in March 2017.
Source By https://www.forbes.com