The co-founder of Microsoft Corp. Bill Gates, remains the richest American with estimated assets of $54 billion, according to Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of the 400 wealthiest Americans.
Mr. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor who runs Berkshire Hathaway, easily held on to the No. 2 spot on the Forbes list with $45 billion, and he proved better than Mr. Gates at amassing wealth, gaining $5 billion over last year as the financial crisis ebbed. The number of list members whose wealth declined this year was 85 compared with 314 in 2009, while wealth increased for 217 members. The total worth of the 400 rose by 8 percent to $1.37 trillion, still below the 2008 total of $1.57 trillion.
Other members of the top 10 included Lawrence J. Ellison of Oracle, who stayed even at No. 3 with $27 billion, and the two Koch brothers, Charles and David, who shared fifth place with $21.5 billion apiece, as they each pulled in gains of $5.5 billion. Also in the top 10 are four Walton family members — Christy, Jim C., Alice and S. Robson — heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune, who had wealth ranging from $19.7 billion to $24 billion and gains ranging from $500 million to $2.5 billion.
The biggest gainer on the Forbes list was Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, with a net worth of $6.9 billion, jumping ahead of fellow big name Bay Area residents like Apple’s Steve Jobs, Google’s Eric Schmidt and discount stock brokerage magnate Charles Schwab, according to Forbes magazine.
Zuckerberg’s net worth jumped by $4.9 billion in the past year, based on private equity deals that place the value of the Palo Alto company he co-founded at about $23 billion. Zuckerberg leaped ahead of Apple’s 55-year-old CEO, who was number 42 on the list with $6.1 billion. Jobs’ total was boosted by the $4.4 billion in Walt Disney Co. stock he acquired in the sale of Emeryville’s Pixar Animation Studios, according to Forbes’ Stephen Bertoni.
The two Silicon Valley titans are increasingly treading on each other’s turf, Apple, the maker of the iPhone, with a social networking service called Ping, and Facebook with its drive to get its popular service on mobile devices, perhaps even its own phone.