My friend isn’t rich, but he’s comfortable, with a full-time job and a solid furniture reselling business. It’s a story worth telling as Forbes magazine released its annual list of 400 richest Americansa record number of 42 immigrants from 21 countries.
The 42 have a combined net worth of $250 billion, Forbes reports, and include New York grocery magnate John Catsimatidis ($3.3 billion, Greece), Tesla founder Elon Musk ($11.6 billion, South Africa) and WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum ($8.8 billion, Ukraine).
“There is no other country on the planet where you or your parents can show up and, with hard work, create enormous wealth in a single generation,” said businessman Raul Fernández, born in Washington from immigrant parents from Cuba and Ecuador. .
Six of 42 richest immigrants on the Forbes list are from Israel, five from India and four from Hungary and four from Taiwan. Sergey Brin, a Moscow native and co-founder of Google whose parents brought him to the United States when he was six, tops the list of immigrants with an estimated net worth of $37.5 billion.
“Brin’s mathematician parents faced anti-Semitism in their home country,” writes Forbes contributor Jennifer Wang. “They would have been forced to sit in separate rooms during university entrance exams and would have been limited in their choice of careers. »
All but two of the 42 members of the Forbes ranking are self-educated, and a third are richer than real estate baron Donald Trump, who has made immigration a central theme of his candidacy. The Donald lost 35 places to 156th place. The billionaire still has a fortune of $3.7 billion, down $800 million compared to 2015.
Twenty-six people were removed from the list, including Elizabeth Holmes, whose wealth was lowered to zero by Forbes after the troubles of her medical testing company, Theranos. Another dropout is hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, who was burned by his investment in Valeant Pharmaceutical.
According to a report on immigration and entrepreneurship According to the Kauffman Foundation, “there is little debate about the economic contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs.” The Kauffman report states that “immigrants are twice as likely to become entrepreneurs as native-born Americans.”
“The risk-taking that defines an immigrant’s experience as they start a new life in a country often continues to benefit immigrant entrepreneurs, as they channel a healthy appetite for risk in ways that lead to new business ideas “, according to the report.
“It’s a unique, truly American ecosystem that is paving the way for hungry, scrappy immigrants and entrepreneurs to build great businesses and enormous wealth,” Fernandez said.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates tops the rankings again – his 23rd year in a row – with an estimated net worth of $81 billion. Although he still owns 13% of Microsoft, Gates has diversified his fortune across a wide range of investments, from Deere & Co. to Canadian National Railways.
The meteoric rise of Amazon.com shares has propelled founder and CEO (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos beyond famed investor Warren Buffett (ancient co-owner of the Washington Post) to take second place on the Forbes list. Bezos’ net worth is estimated at $67 billion. Buffett is now third.
The richest people in America are doing well, thank you. The era of low interest rates boosted the stock market and, with it, the booming technology sector. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is worth $55.5 billion, surpassing Oracle founder Larry Ellison, who fell to fifth with $49.3 billion.
The youngest member of the Forbes 400 is the founder of Snapchat Evan Spiegel, who is 26 years old and already worth $2.1 billion. (Messaging app Snapchat renamed itself Snap Inc. in late September.) The oldest is David Rockefeller Sr.101 years old, only living grandchild of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller.
They have a combined net worth of $2.4 trillion and an average net worth of $6 billion. These are the highest for both categories since Forbes began tracking America’s richest people starting in 1982. The entry fee this year amounts to a net worth of $1.7 billion , the same as in 2015.
The best way to join this elite is to inherit your money or start a business. There aren’t many Buffetts who can pick stocks to achieve billionaire status.
Some businesses started by immigrants are small. Some are quite large, like Brin’s Google. But others are not: The National Foundation for American Politicsa nonpartisan research group, says 44 of 87 U.S. tech companies valued at $1 billion or more were founded by immigrants, many of whom are now among the richest people in America.
Fernandez isn’t on the Forbes list, but he’s doing very well. He built his fortune in technology, sold his company and is now an investor. He is vice president of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the holding company that owns DC’s Verizon Center, home of the NBA Wizards and NHL Capitals.
“It’s the American dream, not the Russian or Chinese dream,” he said.