Forbes recently released its Richest People On The Planet list for 2018. I figured it would be interesting to determine who, among the 575 American billionaires, are immigrants like me. I’ve patiently and painstakingly gone through the list to figure out which ones emigrated from other countries based on the information that I gathered from the web.
If, by any chance, you happen to be a billionaire that I overlooked, feel free to send a blank check so I can make the necessary corrections.
Patrick Soon-Shiong, South Africa, $7.8 billion
Tenth on my list, South African-born surgeon Patrick Soon-Shiong, 65. He is the son of Chinese immigrant parents who fled to the country during the Japanese occupation in World War II. In 1984, Patrick became an immigrant himself by emigrating to the U.S. to become a board-certified surgeon.
He may look like he’s asking for money in this picture, but don’t be fooled– the poorest guy on my top ten list is easily twice as rich as President Donald Trump. His wealth came from companies he founded to make blockbuster treatments for breast cancer and diabetes.
He is the founder and CEO of NantHealth, which is based in Culver City in California.
George Soros, Hungary, $8 billion
Ninth is Budapest-born hedge-fund manager George Soros. He was born into a well-off Jewish family, only to end up emigrating to England in 1947 to escape Nazi Germany’s occupation of Hungary.
In 1956, Soros moved to New York City, where he worked as an arbitrage trader. That career enabled him to amass half a million dollars enough to start his first hedge fund.
Had he not transferred 15 of the $23 billion of his net worth towards his philanthropic efforts, last year, he would have been second on the list.
He is well-known as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” after shorting $10 billion worth of British Pounds.
Jan Koum, Ukraine, $9.1 billion
Eighth is Ukraine-born ex-janitor of a grocery store (which probably explains why he’s wearing a T-shirt in this picture). Jan Koum, 42, is now the CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application. The company was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19.3 billion.
He was born in Kiev (then part of the Soviet Union). He moved with his mother and grandmother to Mountain View, California in 1992, where they were living in government-assisted housing and collecting food stamps.
Koum started working as an infrastructure engineer at Yahoo in 1997 while still attending Computer Science classes, but eventually dropped out. He worked there for nine years prior to founding the company.
Micky Arison, Israel, $9.7 billion
Seventh is the Israeli-born businessman and chairman of Carnival Corporation, Miky Arison, 68.
He was only 5 when his father, Ted, who founded Carnival, decided to move his business to the United States due to lack of business opportunities.
Micky Arison has been the owner of the Miami Heat basketball team since 1995.
Unlike my home team, the Philadelphia Sixers, the Miami Heat has won three NBA finals. One in 2006 and two consecutive ones in 2012 and 2013.
That’s probably the reason why he is smiling in this picture.
Pierre Omidyar, France, $10.5 billion
Sixth on the list is the Paris-born son of Iranian immigrant parents who had been sent to France by their parents for college. His father, a urologist, moved to the United States when Omidyar was a child. He later acquired a degree in Computer Science.
He co-founded Ink Development in 1991, a pen-based computing startup that later was rebranded as an e-commerce company and renamed eShop, which was later acquired by Microsoft.
In 1995, he started writing the code for an online venue to enable the listing of a direct person-to-person auction for collectible items. That project later evolved as the popular auction site we know today as eBay.
Rupert Murdoch, Australia, $15 billion
Fifth is the Melbourne-born media magnate, Rupert Murdoch, 87. His father was a famous war correspondent, and later a regional newspaper magnate owning two popular newspapers.
Murdoch inherited his father’s papers and continued to purchase other media outlets over the years. In the 1970s, he started buying American newspapers. He founded News Corporation, a multi-national mass media empire, in 1979.
In 1985, Murdoch branched out into the entertainment industry with the purchase of 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, which he recently sold much of the stake to the Walt Disney Company. The media empire was later renamed to 21st Century Fox in 2013. He continues to serve as the Executive Chairman.
Elon Musk, South Africa, $19.9 billion
Fourth is a South African-born serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, 46. Musk taught himself computer programming at the age of 12. He moved to Canada when he was 17, and later to the United States to pursue degrees in physics and economics.
In 1995, he co-founded Zip2, which was sold to Compaq. Musk later founded X.com in 1999, which later became PayPal. He founded two other companies: SpaceX in 2002 and Tesla Motors in 2003. He started three other technology companies since 2015. One of them is Neuralink, which aims to integrate the human brain with artificial intelligence.
Musk is probably the most ambitious among the billionaires on this list– one of his goals is to reduce the “risk of human extinction” by establishing a colony on Mars.
Len Blavatnik, the Soviet Union, $20.2 billion
Third on my list is a Soviet-born British-American investor Len Blavatnik, 60. His family emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1978. He received a masters in computer science from Columbia University and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989.
He founded Access Industries, an international conglomerate company located in New York in 1986. The company’s diversified portfolio to include investments in industries such as oil, entertainment, coal, aluminum, petrochemicals and plastics, telecommunications, media, and real estate
Blavatnik now lives next to the Kensington Palace in London while maintaining his U.S. citizenship.
Thomas Peterffy, Hungary, $20.3 billion
Second on the richest list is a Budapest-born digital trading pioneer, Thomas Peterffy, 73. He came to America in 1965, at age 21, penniless and unable to speak English. He defied the odds to start a career in the United States as an architectural draftsman and later as a computer programmer.
Peterffy purchased a seat on the American Stock Exchange (AMEX) in 1977, where he developed computerized equity trading models. He revolutionized the stock exchange industry by using a hand-held computer to trade equity options.
He is the CEO and founder of Interactive Brokers, a company that markets specialized trading platform to sophisticated investors.
Sergey Brin, Russia, $47.5 billion
Never mind that the Google Glass flopped, Russian-born Sergey Brin, 44, is our richest immigrant on the list. He is more than twice as rich as the number two. He emigrated with his family, at age six, to the United States to escape Jewish persecution.
Brin was a Ph.D. student at Stanford University when he met Larry Page. The two created a search engine, Google, that would sort web pages based on popularity. It has since then become the most popular search engine in the world.
He currently serves as the president of Alphabet, the public holding company that owns Google, Inc.
The complete list
|Rank||Name||Country of Origin||Net Worth (Billions)||Source||Forbes Rank|
|2||Thomas Peterffy||Hungary||$20.30||discount brokerage||#47|
|4||Elon Musk||South Africa||$19.90||Tesla Motors||#54|
|5||Rupert Murdoch||Australia||$15||newspapers, TV network||#94|
|7||Micky Arison||Israel||$9.70||Carnival Cruises||#154|
|9||George Soros||Hungary||$8||hedge funds||#190|
|10||Patrick Soon-Shiong||South Africa||$7.80||pharmaceuticals||#198|
|11||Sun Hongbin||China||$7.30||real estate||#211|
|12||Shahid Khan||Pakistan||$7.20||auto parts||#217|
|13||David Sun||Taiwan||$5.70||computer hardware||#315|
|14||John Tu||China||$5.70||computer hardware||#315|
|16||Dagmar Dolby||Germany||$4||Dolby Laboratories||#550|
|17||Min Kao||Taiwan||$3.40||navigation equipment||#679|
|19||Andrew & Peggy Cherng||China||$3.20||restaurants||#729|
|20||Haim Saban||Israel||$3.20||TV network, investments||#729|
|21||John Catsimatidis||Greece||$3.10||oil, real estate||#766|
|22||Do Won & Jin Sook Chang||South Korea||$3.10||fashion retail||#766|
|23||Romesh T. Wadhwani||India||$3.10||software||#766|
|25||Kieu Hoang||Vietnam||$2.80||medical products||#859|
|26||Vinod Khosla||India||$2.30||venture capital||#1070|
|27||Kavitark Ram Shriram||India||$2.10||venture capital, Google||#1157|
|31||Aneel Bhusri||India||$1.60||business software||#1477|
|32||Thai Lee||Thailand||$1.60||IT provider||#1477|
|33||Niraj Shah||India||$1.60||online retail||#1477|
|36||Fayez Sarofim||Egypt||$1.50||money management||#1561|
|37||Victor Fung||Hong Kong||$1.40||trading company||#1650|
|38||Evgeny (Eugene) Shvidler||Russia||$1.40||oil & gas, investments||#1650|
|39||Alexander Rovt||Ukraine||$1.30||fertilizer, real estate||#1756|
|40||Jayshree Ullal||United Kingdom||$1.30||technology||#1756|
|41||Bharat Desai||Kenya||$1.10||IT consulting||#1999|
|43||Andrea Reimann-Ciardelli||Germany||$1.10||consumer goods||#1999|