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Top 10 IT Billionaires -- A Closer Look

Of the world's top 100 billionaires on the Forbes list, nine run information technology companies.


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Forbes released its annual list of the world's billionaires Thursday, and technology companies are well represented, even though Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is no longer the world's richest person.

That honor now belongs to Mexican telecom mogul Carlos Slim Helu, who edged out Gates for the top spot by $500 million in net worth. Gates, worth $53 billion, slipped to number two.

Of the world's top 100 billionaires, however, nine run information technology companies. If you count Thomson Reuters Chairman David Thomson and Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg, whose employees write about technology, there are 11 IT billionaires in Forbes' top 100.



Unfortunately, for those IT guys and gals who are working in the trenches, several of these richest executives -- the heads of Microsoft, Google, Dell, Amazon, and Apple among others -- run companies that have shed employees or contractors in the last year, even as the executives' personal fortunes increased.

Forbes notes that the average net worth of its billionaires was up $500 million in the last year despite the recession -- only 12 percent of those on last year's list are worth less this year.

But some of the IT companies on Forbes' list are creating jobs too -- Facebook is represented, as are several Chinese Internet companies that are listed for the first time. And that's another interesting fact from Forbes -- although U.S. billionaires still dominate the list, their number has declined this year from 45 percent to 40 percent.

U.S. collective net worth is also down -- a year ago the billionaires owned 44 percent of the list's net worth, and that's dropped to 38 percent.

Where They Rank

Here are Forbes 2010 IT billionaires, with where they ranked on that list. If you can't get an IT job in the U.S., can you move?

2 -- Microsoft co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates, Harvard dropout, worth $53 billion.

6 -- Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison, University of Chicago dropout, worth $28 billion.

Tied for 24 -- Google co-founder Sergey Brin, MS from Stanford, and Google co-founder Larry Page, MS from Stanford, each worth $17.5 billion.

28 -- Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, BA/BS from Stanford, worth $17 billion.

33 -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, MBA from Stanford, worth $14.5 billion.

Tied for 37 -- Venture capitalist, sports team owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, Washington State University dropout; and Dell founder, Chairman and CEO Michael Dell, University of Texas at Austin dropout, each worth $13.5 billion.

43 -- Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, BA from Princeton, worth $12.3 billion.

117 -- Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, PhD from Berkeley, worth $6.3 billion.

136 -- Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, Reed College dropout, worth $5.5 billion.

Honorable Mention

Here are some other big IT names on the Forbes list: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg; Paypal co-founder and venture capitalist Peter Thiel; Salesforce.com founder, Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff; Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang; eBay founder and venture capitalist Pierre Omidyar; eBay's first employee and now philanthropist Jeffrey Skoll; Research In Motion co-CEO James Ballsillie (Canadian developer of the BlackBerry); Gree.jp founder Yoshikazu Tanaka (Japanese social network); Baidu founder Robin Li (Chinese search engine); Alibaba founder, Chairman and CEO Jack Ma (Chinese e-commerce); Giant Interactive founder Shi Yuzhu (Chinese online gaming).

A few Silicon Valley venture capitalists who invest in tech made the list too: Kleiner Perkins' John Doerr, Sequoia Capital's Mike Moritz, and Sherpalo Ventures' Ram Shriram -- all investors in Google; and Khosla Ventures' Vinod Khosla, who co-founded Sun Microsystems and has since invested a lot of his own money in clean tech and IT startups.


   
Deborah Gage is an award-winning journalist who has been writing about business and technology from Silicon Valley for over 15 years.
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