Forbes recently published its annual list of billionaires for 2019. Not to be overshadowed, I too decided I’m making my richest immigrant list an annual thing; hoping this post can inspire and motivate fellow immigrants out there who are tired of hearing about the border wall (I personally arrived by plane).
So once again, I painstakingly went through the billionaire list to figure out which of them emigrated from other countries based on the information that I’ve gathered from the web.
But as you probably already know, 2018 was the worst for stocks in 10 years. Hence, nothing really dramatic happened, generally speaking, among the immigrants in my list in terms of wealth creation.
With a few exceptions…
- Elon Musk jumped two places up to become the second richest!
- Patrick Soon-Shiong got eliminated
- Newcomer Chinese-American Sun Hongbin took eighth place
- Correction: Len Blavatnik is actually from Ukraine (not Russia). But I was right— he emigrated from the Soviet Union.
George Soros, Hungary, $8.3 billion
Tenth on my list 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.
He is well-known as “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” after shorting selling $10 billion worth of British Pounds.
Had he not given away $32 billion of his personal fortune towards his philanthropic efforts, he would have easily ended up first in the list!
Micky Arison, Israel, $8.9 billion
Ninth is the Israeli-born businessman and chairman of Carnival Corporation, Miky Arison, 69.
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 why he’s smiling in this picture.
Sun Hongbin, China, $9 billion
Eight is Chinese-born engineer Sun Hongbin, 56. This newcomer was born in the Shanxi province of China. He obtained a master’s degree in engineering from Tsinghua University.
Very little information written in English that can be found about his early life. And how Hongbin became an American citizen (or why he’s maintaining his citizenship); other than he attended a six-week advanced management program at Harvard.
In 1992, he was jailed in China following an embezzlement conviction which was later overturned. I’m sure this experience was more educational
Hongbin is the founder and chairman of Sunac China Holdings, one of the largest real-estate companies in China.
Jan Koum, Ukraine, $9.6 billion
Seventh is Ukraine-born ex-janitor of a grocery store— probably explains why he’s wearing a T-shirt in this picture.
Jan Koum, 43, 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.
Pierre Omidyar, France, $11.4 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.
I believe he finally got rid of that weird hairdo.
Thomas Peterffy, Hungary, $17.1 billion
Fifth on the richest list is a Budapest-born digital trading pioneer, Thomas Peterffy, 74. 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.
Len Blavatnik, Ukraine, $17.7 billion
Fourth on my list is another Ukraine-born British-American investor Len Blavatnik, 61. His family immigrated 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.
Rupert Murdoch, Australia, $19.4 billion
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, $22.3 billion
Second is a South African-born serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, 47. 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.
Sergey Brin, Russia, $49.8 billion
Never mind that the Google Glass flopped, Russian-born Sergey Brin, 45, is our richest immigrant on the list. He is more than twice as rich as the number two. He immigrated 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||Elon Musk||South Africa||$22.30||Tesla Motors||#40|
|3||Rupert Murdoch||Australia||$19.4||newspapers, TV network||#52|
|5||Thomas Peterffy||Hungary||$17.1||discount brokerage||#63|
|8||Sun Hongbin||China||$9||real estate||#160|
|9||Micky Arison||Israel||$8.9||Carnival Cruises||#162|
|10||George Soros||Hungary||$8.3||hedge funds||#178|
|11||Patrick Soon-Shiong||South Africa||$7||pharmaceuticals||#209|
|12||Shahid Khan||Pakistan||$6.8||auto parts||#224|
|13||David Sun||Taiwan||$4.70||computer hardware||#394|
|13||John Tu||China||$4.70||computer hardware||#394|
|14||Dagmar Dolby||Germany||$4.1||Dolby Laboratories||#550|
|15||Roger Wang||Taiwan||$3.8||real estate||#546|
|15||Lin Bin||China||$3.6||consumer electronics||#546|
|16||Min Kao||Taiwan||$3.5||navigation equipment||#617|
|16||Li Ge||Taiwan||$3.5||medical supplies||#617|
|17||Romesh T. Wadhwani||India||$3.30||software||#667|
|18||John Catsimatidis||Greece||$3.10||oil, real estate||#715|
|19||Do Won & Jin Sook Chang||South Korea||$3||fashion retail||#745|
|21||Haim Saban||Israel||$2.80||TV network, investments||#804|
|22||Andrew & Peggy Cherng||China||$2.70||restaurants||#838|
|23||Aneel Bhusri||India||$2.40||business software||#962|
|25||Thai Lee||Thailand||$2.10||IT provider||#1116|
|25||Kavitark Ram Shriram||India||$2.10||venture capital, Google||#1116|
|25||Vinod Khosla||India||$2.10||venture capital||#1116|
|26||Niraj Shah||India||$2.00||online retail||#1168|
|29||Evgeny (Eugene) Shvidler||Russia||$1.50||oil & gas, investments||#1511|
|30||Fayez Sarofim||Egypt||$1.40||money management||#1605|
|30||Bharat Desai||Kenya||$1.40||IT consulting||#1605|
|31||Alexander Rovt||Ukraine||$1.30||fertilizer, real estate||#1717|
|32||Jayshree Ullal||United Kingdom||$1.20||technology||#1818|
|33||Victor Fung||Hong Kong||$1.00||trading company||#2057|