Forbes has yet to release its annual list of billionaires for 2021, but I’m not relying on an outdated list this time. Instead, I’m publishing my highly coveted immigrant billionaire list based on last weekend’s closing prices.
“But why should we admire these super-rich guys we have no chance of replicating?” you might ask.
Immigrant billionaires, in particular, are the epitome of the American Dream. They came to the country with nothing except their hopes and dreams and ended up with everything. They serve as a reminder we don’t have to be born into privilege to become successful. This way, we don’t just sit on our laurels waiting to get stimulated by a $1.9 trillion government stimulus package.
Follow a rock star or celebrities in the entertainment industry, and you become just a fan, or worse, a groupie. If you follow a billionaire, study their traits, and make a plan that you can put into action. Guess what? You become a millionaire!
Biggest winners, losers, and other highlights
After the U.S. stock plummeted sharply by more than 30% last year because of the pandemic, we had the fastest bear-market recovery in 30 years. The result: billionaires are making a killing more than ever.
Hence, there are no big losers worth mentioning this year except for dropouts Sun Hongbin (Sunac China Holdings) and Shahid Khan (owner of Jacksonville Jaguars) who lost only $400M and $1.6B, respectively.
The biggest winner is, of course, Elon Musk, who gained a whooping $160 billion compared to last year. Thanks to the astronomical rise of Tesla’s stock.
Noticeably absent in my top-10 is philanthropist George Soros, who has been the subject of many conspiracy theories. That’s mostly due to the emergence of Taiwanese and Chinese newcomers: Jensen Huang, Li Ge, and Lin Bin. Not that Soros cares— besides “destroying America”— he has been giving away a substantial percentage of his wealth to charity!
Here are the richest immigrants as of this writing.
Jan Koum, Ukraine, $10 billion
Tenth on my list is Jan Koum, 45, 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.
Lin Bin, China, $10.9 billion
Ninth is Chinese-born cofounder and president of Xiaomi, Lin Bin, 53.
Xiaomi makes high-performance Android phones that run the latest specs and hardware and then it sells them for much less than the competition!
Before joining Xiaomi, he was an engineering director at Google from 2006 to 2010. Earlier in his career, Lin worked at ADP and Microsoft.
Lin is also a member of the board of advisors at Tufts University School of Engineering, a U.S. university located near Boston.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in radio electronics from Sun Yat-sen University and a master of science degree from Drexel University.
Li Ge, China, $12.5 billion
Eighth is Chinese-born Li Ge, 55. This newcomer chairs Wuxi Biologics, a publicly-traded supplier of pharmaceutical ingredients. Li cofounded Wuxi PharmaTech in December 2000.
He was one of the founding scientists and served as a research manager of Pharmacopeia Inc., a biopharmaceutical company listed on NASDAQ (PCOP). He was responsible for managing external research collaboration.
Li obtained a Ph.D. degree in organic chemistry from Columbia University in the United States in February 1994. He was appointed as a director of the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), a private non-profit research organization in 2017.
Jensen Huang, Taiwan, $14.2 billion
Seventh is Taiwanese-born engineer Jensen Huang, 58. This newcomer was born in the coastal city of Tainan.
His parents sent Huang, along with his brother, to live with relatives in Oregon where they attended a school for troubled students. He was reunited with his parents years after.
Huang simply knew that graphics are the future of computers, and gaming will be the most revenue-generating field in the future. By April 1993, Huang co-founded Nvidia, a software and semiconductor maker company, with a starting capital of only $40,000.
Huang graduated from Oregon State University before moving to California. He has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
Rupert Murdoch, Australia, $21.9 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.
Thomas Peterffy, Hungary, $24.5 billion
Fifth is a Budapest-born digital trading pioneer, Thomas Peterffy, 77. 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.
Pierre Omidyar, France, $24.9 billion
Fourth is Pierre Omidyar, 53. 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.
Len Blavatnik, Ukraine, $31.7 billion
Third is another Ukraine-born British-American investor Len Blavatnik, 63. 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.
Sergey Brin, Russia, $88.2 billion
After leading my list for three consecutive years, Russian-born Sergey Brin, 47, falls to second. But don’t feel sorry for him, he just got wealthier by over $30B compared to last year!
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.
Elon Musk, South Africa, $182.2 billion
First is no other than South African-born serial entrepreneur Elon Musk, 49. He could also be the RICHEST PERSON IN THE WORLD when Tesla’s stock price is not getting a hiccup.
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.
That way, if ever a zombie-apocalyptic event happens, we could all migrate to the red planet, effectively making us all Martian immigrants!
The complete list
|Rank||Name||Country of Origin||Net Worth (Billions)||Source||Forbes Rank|
|1||Elon Musk||South Africa||$182.2||Tesla Motors||#2|
|5||Thomas Peterffy||Hungary||$24.5||discount brokerage||#70|
|6||Rupert Murdoch||Australia||$21.9||newspapers, TV network||#88|
|8||Li Ge||Taiwan||$12.5||medical supplies||#202|
|9||Lin Bin||China||$10.9||consumer electronics||#224|
|11||Sun Hongbin||China||$9.2||real estate||#255|
|12||George Soros||Hungary||$8.6||hedge funds||#276|
|13||Patrick Soon-Shiong||South Africa||$8.4||pharmaceuticals||#284|
|14||Shahid Khan||Pakistan||$7.9||auto parts||#310|
|15||John Tu||China||$6.5||computer hardware||#405|
|15||David Sun||Taiwan||$6.5||computer hardware||#410|
|15||Micky Arison||Israel||$6.5||Carnival Cruises||#417|
|16||Dagmar Dolby||Germany||$4||Dolby Laboratories||#550|
|17||Min Kao||Taiwan||$3.7||navigation equipment||#617|
|18||Roger Wang||China||$3.6||real estate||#609|
|19||Romesh T. Wadhwani||India||$3.4||software||#665|
|20||John Catsimatidis||Greece||$3.3||oil, real estate||#681|
|21||Andrew & Peggy Cherng||China||$3||restaurants||#763|
|22||Thai Lee||Thailand||$3||IT provider||#764|
|23||Haim Saban||Israel||$2.8||TV network, investments||#830|
|25||Kavitark Ram Shriram||India||$2.2||venture capital, Google||#1061|
|27||Vinod Khosla||India||$2.2||venture capital||#1088|
|28||Aneel Bhusri||India||$2||business software||#1178|
|29||Evgeny (Eugene) Shvidler||Russia||$1.6||oil & gas, investments||#1444|
|32||Bharat Desai||Kenya||$1.40||IT consulting||#1678|
|35||Fayez Sarofim||Egypt||$1.3||money management||#1737|
|36||Alexander Rovt||Ukraine||$1.30||fertilizer, real estate||#1806|
|26||Niraj Shah||India||$1.2||online retail||#1859|
|32||Jayshree Ullal||United Kingdom||$1.1||technology||#1969|