Who Is the Richest Person in the World?
Answer: Elon Musk. For now.
Current net worth: $265.4 billion
Closest competitors: Jeff Bezos and Bernard Arnault
Elon Musk Is the Richest Person in the World
Elon Musk has gained plenty of notoriety in 2022 thanks to his purchase of Twitter. Of course, he was famous before that. He is best known as the founder of SpaceX and the CEO and product architect of Tesla, but his full story is far more interesting.
He was born in South Africa and studied in three different countries before completing dual bachelor’s degrees in economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania.
In 1995, he moved cross-country to California with plans to attend Stanford, but once he got there, he took a hard left into the world of business. He and his brother, Kimbal, founded a software company called Zip2, which was purchased by Compaq for $307 million in 1999. If that sounds huge now, imagine how much it was in 1999.
Musk has since launched several other companies, including SolarCity, The Boring Company, Neuralink and OpenAI, an artificial intelligence nonprofit. He seems to have a knack for generating winning business ideas, because the business magnate is now a centibillionaire.
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Jeff Bezos Is Elon Musk's Main Competition
Jeff Bezos's name is everywhere, and he and Elon Musk have competed for the title of world's richest individual for the last several years. But the race is not as close as it used to be as Bezos has a current net worth of 151.8 billion.
The Princeton grad majored in electrical engineering and computer science and worked on Wall Street in the early 1990s. In 1994, he founded Amazon, and the rest is history.
The multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, started selling books online, but now sells a lot more than just books. With a focus on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence, Amazon has become the largest online sales company in the world and has grown even more since adding cloud services and virtual assistants to the mix.
Bezos also founded an aerospace company called Blue Origin, which hopes to launch a new era of commercial human space flight. He also owns numerous investments through his venture capital firm, Bezos Expeditions.
Those investments include The Washington Post newspaper, the 10,000 Year Clock project and Bezos One Day Fund, a $2 billion philanthropic fund which he launched with his then-wife MacKenzie Scott in 2018 that helps address homelessness and early education in low-income communities.
In 2020, Bezos became the first person to reach a net worth of $200 billion. He remains one of the few people in the exclusive centibillionaire club with a net worth over $100 billion, but he has steep competition. In addition to the infamous Elon Musk, there are a few other centibillionaires vying for the top spot. The next richest people are Bernard Arnault with $146.6 billion, and Bill Gates coming in fourth with $129 billion.
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Bottom Line: Billionaire Net Worths Change a Lot
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have been in a race for the top spot on the world's wealthiest list for a minute. On March 15, 2021, Musk was the richest person in the world. Just a few days later, Bezos pulled ahead again.
How is that possible, you ask? In the world of billionaires, wealth moves fast, and stats change rapidly. Multibillionaires can and do lose millions or billions overnight depending on the stock market. Bezos and Musk have been playing leapfrog for a while. After a significant Tesla sell-off, Bezos pulled ahead. Then, Musk was the frontrunner.
Now, according to the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List, Elon Musk is back on top, with over $100 billion more wealth to brag about than Jeff Bezos. These numbers will continue to change rapidly, however. Even the Bloomsberg Billionaires Index has slightly different numbers.
The only constant with the superrich is that they all have big net worths. No one's ever on top forever, and so it goes in the life of a billionaire. But Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos both have so much money that a few billion is barely a drop in the bucket.
See who else is part of the richest people in the world club.