Almost a third of the richest 30 people in the world have made their billions in the technology industry. This common denominator isn’t a surprise considering that since 2015 in the UK alone the technology sector has a turnover of £170 billion a year , outgrowing the UK economy with 72% of investment coming from outside London.
With continuous opportunities for growth and expansion, many entrepreneurs are taking advantage. Don’t be fooled, however. Tech tycoons aren’t work-shy and making a success of yourself in the technology sector is difficult with so much competition. Much of the list is in fact dominated by these self-made billionaires launching global companies that have gone on to be household names, such as Facebook, Amazon and Google.
Whilst that first billion isn’t easy, it is possible. With the right idea, anyone can be the world’s next billionaire. Some build their fortune in no time at all, while others take the slow and steady route. Find out below how fast the top five technology entrepreneurs went from launching their company to making their first billion and how they did it.
Tech Tycoons Race to Riches List
5. Larry PageNet worth: £31.9 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Google
Length of time: 6 years
Age of becoming a billionaire: 30
In 1998, Page teamed up with fellow PhD student, Sergey Brin, at Stanford University to create an early search engine, then named BackRub. Little did they know this project would evolve into the biggest search engine in the world. Google and its parent company Alphabet now take up one of the biggest market shares in tech and are worth more than £455 billion ($581 billion). As Google’s net worth increased, so did the value of Page’s shares.
Larry Page has been a key player in the evolution of Google, and after many years at the helm, Page moved on to head up Alphabet. Here he looks after not only Google but also Nest, Calico and Google X and gets involved in everything from driverless cars to home automation.
4. Larry EllisonNet worth: £40.9 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Oracle
Length of time: 16 years
Age of becoming a billionaire: 49
Ellison teamed up with two colleagues at an electronics company in 1977 so they could start their own firm that focused on programming. Their newly formed company quickly gained traction and attention from the likes of the CIA, which wanted Ellison to build it a relational database management system, later known as Oracle.
This first project developed into the giant company known as Oracle Corp and although Ellison stepped down as CEO after 38 years and reduced his salary from a million dollars per year to just one he still receives a massive £47 million from the dividend on his shares.
3. Mark ZuckerbergNet worth: £43.9 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Facebook
Length of time: 4 years
Age of becoming a billionaire: 23
At the age of 19 and in his second year studying at Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg launched the very first version of Facebook, then known as TheFacebook.com. At the time, it was only a very basic version, but Zuckerberg believed in the venture enough to drop out of university and work full-time on the project.
The move paid off, as Facebook exploded in popularity and now attracts over a billion users every day, making the company worth almost £313.4 billion. Through Facebook, Zuckerberg has secured himself the title of being the youngest in the top 50 richest people in the entire world, let alone in the technology industry.
2. Jeff BezosNet worth: £57 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Amazon.com
Length of time: 5 years
Age of becoming a billionaire: 35
In 1994, Bezos launched Amazon, an online book retailer, from his garage at home in Seattle. At the time, it exclusively sold books and continued to be run from his home for the next three years. Once public, Amazon rapidly expanded to include other goods including everything from furniture to electronics, and now it even supplies fresh fruit.
By 2016, Bezos had taken Amazon from being a small business in his backyard to a multi-billion-dollar company, generating £107billion in revenue in 2016 alone.
1. Bill GatesNet worth: £67.4 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made, founder of Microsoft
Length of time: 12 years
Age of becoming a billionaire: 31
At only 20 years of age, Bill Gates cofounded Microsoft with a childhood friend. Paul Allen and Bill Gates developed the company over ten years, and before Gates’s 31st birthday, Microsoft went public and made him a billionaire overnight. Gates continued to serve as the company’s CEO until 2000.
Although Gates is still on Microsoft’s board, he hasn’t been actively involved in the business since 2014, when he let go of his position as chairholder. At that point he was still the largest shareholder, but since then his generosity and work for his own charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has seen his shares lower. Despite being one of the most generous billionaires on the planet, Gates still remains the richest man in the world.
His work with the foundation is a true testament to Gates’s legacy, with individuals being lifted out of poverty around the world and the elimination of deadly diseases such as HIV and malaria on the horizon.
Compare the speed at which the top sixteen richest tech moguls in the world made their first billion by checking out our Richest Tech Moguls Infographic.