For some people making their first billion takes a whole lifetime, but a growing number today are crushing their way to the benchmark in just a few years.
The majority of the world’s most wealthy men have made their billions rapidly in tech, including Jeff Bezos with Amazon, Bill Gates with Microsoft, Larry Ellison with Oracle and Mark Zuckerberg through Facebook.
Today it’s the new school of tech entrepreneurs who are smashing records, with Bezos raking in his first billion within five years and Zuckerberg within just three.
In contrast Gates and Ellison, who soared through the personal computing boom of 1990s, took 11 years and 16 years respectively to make their first billion.
The old school of investors like Warren Buffet, Zara founder Amancio Ortega, Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim Helu and casino baron Sheldon Adelson, took decades to reach the milestone.
The total number of billionaires worldwide is 2,153 and their wealth combined is an estimated $743bn.
Jeff Bezos (Amazon), first million in three years, first billion in five years
Jeff Bezos, 55, the world’s richest man, with an estimated net worth of $131bn, founded Amazon in 1994 from his garage in Seattle.
He made his first million within three years after Amazon’s first initial public offering hauled in $54million and it took him just another two years to make a billion.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos during the JFK Space Summit at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston earlier this month
But after 1999 when his wealth was at $10.1bn it rapidly dropped to just $1.5bn in 2003, recovering with a quadrupling between 2005 to 2007 and standing at $8.7bn.
Today he rakes in around $2,500 a second and his net worth is bigger than the GDP of Iceland, Afghanistan and Costa Rica put together.
After 25 years of marriage to Mackenzie Bezos, she is set to become the world’s third richest woman after they divorce, Business Insider reports, with a 4% share in Amazon worth over $33bn.
Bill Gates (Microsoft), first million in six years, first billion in 11 years
Bill Gates, 63, is one of the most famous men in the world and almost all of us are utterly reliant on his technology launched by Microsoft in 1975.
His net worth is estimated at $96.5bn, with Forbes putting him in second place in their global rich list and he earned $4bn last year – a colossal turnover considering he only owns a 1.3% stake in his firm today.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates participates in a discussion during a luncheon of the Economic Club of Washington earlier this week
After setting up Microsoft aged 20 he made his first million within six years, developing the MS-DOS operating system in the 1980s which was sold to IBM in a contract that allowed Microsoft freedom to sell their software to others.
His profits rocketed in the 1990s and one year before the millennium, The New York Times valued his shares in Microsoft at almost $100bn.
In January 2000, he stepped down as CEO but remained chairman. Today he still has a seat on the board and donates billions through the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation.
Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway), first million in five years, first billion in 31 years
Warren Buffet, 88, – the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ – is the world’s most famous investor and runs Berkshire Hathaway which owns insurance titan GEICO, battery makers Duracell and fast-food chain Dairy Queen.
His net worth is estimated at $82.5bn, the world’s third richest man after Bezos and Gates and he made his first million within five years.
Warren Buffett addresses a news conference on 26 June 2006 in New York regarding his pledge of 10 million class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
He read economics voraciously as a teenager and when he was 20 he got his big break working for Lorimer Davidson, the CEO of the company which would later become GEICO.
When he acquired Berkshire Hathaway in 1965 it was a small textile company but he grew it to a $500bn conglomerate by 2018, CNBC reported.
In 2006, he gave away nearly half of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, describing how he would rather ‘outsource’ to them than go through the hassle of setting up his own charity.
Carlos Slim Helu (America Movil), first million in four years, first billion in 30 years
Carlos Slim Helu, 66, is the richest man in Mexico and the world’s fourth richest with an estimated worth of $64bn.
The telecoms tycoon’s profits are drawn from hundreds of companies in the Central American country, known as ‘Slimlandia,’ Business Insider reports.
Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim speaks in a joint news conference after the Competitive Advantage of Nations Forum in San Salvador, El Salvador on Thursday
After starting out on the stock market he began buying companies throughout the 1970s, including soft drinks, construction, printing, bottling and tobacco.
He garnered fame in North America in the early 2000s when he started scooping up shares in Barnes & Noble, Office Depot and CompUSA.
But despite his colossal wealth, he is renowned for his frugal lifestyle and has lived in the same six-bedroom house for over 40 years.
Amancio Ortega (Inditex), first million in 11 years, first billion in 27 years
Amancio Ortega, 83, is a Spanish businessman, the founder of Inditex fashion which is well known for Zara, and he is one of the wealthiest men in Europe.
He opened his first Zara store in 1975 with his wife Rosalia Mera and made his first million within 11 years, with an estimated $62.7bn wealth today.
Amancio Ortega founded his first Zara store in 1975 – he made his first million within 11 years and his first billion 16 years later
As well as Zara, Inditex includes the brands Massimo Dutti and Pull & Bear, and has around 7,500 shops throughout the world.
According to Forbes, Ortega takes home over $400million each year in dividends, mainly through real estate in his home-town of Madrid, Barcelona, London, Chicago, Miami and New York.
Larry Ellison (Oracle), first million in nine years, first billion in 16 years
Larry Ellison, 74, founded software firm Oracle in 1977 and made his first million within nine years – his net worth today is estimated at $62.5bn.
His personal life has drawn as much interest as his professional, with four marriages and four divorces and numerous homes, yachts and planes.
Larry Ellison founded Oracle in 1977 – he made his first million in nine years and made his first billion seven years later
He began writing code for the CIA in the 1970s, but when he and his partners finished ahead of their deadline they began creating software for their own business, Inc. reports.
He stepped down as CEO in 2014 but remains on the board, with Oracle recently venturing into cloud computing with its $9.3bn acquisition of Netsuite three years ago.
He bought three million shares in Tesla last year and joined their board.
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), first million in two years, first billion in three years
Mark Zuckerberg, 35, created Facemash – the precursor to Facebook – within his dorm room at Harvard University in 2003.
The following year, Thefacebook.com expanded to Stanford, Yale and Columbia campuses and by 2006 it was open to the world.
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook Inc., speaks during an event at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California in 2013
Today his net worth is estimated at $62.3bn and he made his first million within two years.
In recent years his firm has come under increasing scrutiny and pressure over allegations it can be used to harvest data and rig democratic elections.
In 2017, he responded to a Trump tweet by saying: ‘Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.’
Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg), first million in seven years, first billion in 28 years
Michael Bloomberg, 77, has an estimated worth of $55.5bn and made his first million within seven years.
He made his start on Wall Street in 1966 at investment bank Salomon Brothers and was sacked 15 years later, Forbes say.
Michael Bloomberg at a press conference following a City of London Economic Roundtable in 2008 – he made his first million in seven years and took another 21 years to make a billion
He set up his financial information and media enterprise Bloomberg LP in 1981 with his $10million severance package from the now extinct bank.
His Bloomberg MarketMaster data terminals were bought by Merrill Lynch and they have become a mainstay for traders ever since.
He became mayor of New York in 2002 and has been an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, with many tipping him to become the next president at one time.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Alphabet), first million in one year, first billion in five years
Larry Page, 46, is CEO of Alphabet, Google’s holding company, and has an estimated net worth of $50.8bn, having made his first million in just a year.
After studying computer science he began working on BackRub in the mid-1990s, a tool to aid internet searches by looking at inter-connectivity between different sites, Bloomberg reports.
In 1998, Page and his partner Sergey Brin, 45, received $100,000 in investment and set up Google.
Larry Page (left) and Sergey Brin, the co-founders of Google – they each made their first million in a year and their first billion in five years
Brin’s net worth is slightly behind Page’s, estiated at $49.8billion and he too made his first million within a year.
In 2001, the pair stepped down as presidents and Eric Schmidt, of Novell, took over as CEO.
Since then, the company has diversified with its Google smartphones and Android operating system to rival Apple’s iPhone.
Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), first million in six years, first billion in eight years
Steve Ballmer, 63, dropped out of Stanford to join his former Harvard peer Bill Gates at his then-start-up, Microsoft.
His net worth today is estimated at $41.2bn and he made his first million in six years.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Snyder look on prior to Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015
When he told his father, ‘My dad said, “What the heck is software? and my mom said, ‘Why would a person ever need a computer?”‘ Ballmer recalled in a episode of The David Rubenstein Show.
He started off as Gates’ assistant and was offered an initial salary of $50,000.
Gates relied on Ballmer’s business and managerial smarts, teaching him how to hire intelligent people and lots of them, and was key to negotiations with IBM.
He announced his retirement and stepped down as CEO in 2014, but maintains a lucrative 4% stake in Microsoft.
Ma Huateng (Tencent), first million in three years, first billion in six years
Ma Huateng, AKA Pony Ma, 47, is chairman of Chinese internet colossus Tencent Holdings, whose social messaging application WeChat has over a billion users.
He co-founded Tencent in 1998, has an estimated worth of $38.8bn and made his first million within three years.
Pony Ma Huateng delivers a speech at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai last year – he made his first million in three years and took the same amount of time to progress to the billion dollar mark
Tencent is the world’s largest gaming company, according to the South China Morning Post, owning 40% of Epic Games, developers of the wildly popular Fortnite shooter.
Huateng prefers to keep a low-profile and drives an unassuming Volvo S80L.
Jack Ma (Alibaba), first million in under a year, first billion in ten years
Jack Ma, 54, is the founder of Alibaba, one of China’s most popular websites and their equivalent of Amazon.
The former English teacher has an estimated net worth of $37.3bn and made his first million in under a year.
Jack Ma, CEO, Alibaba Group at a conference in Paris last month – he made his first million in under a year and took another decade to haul in a billion
His first company, Haibo Translation Agency, provided English translations and he soon saw an opportunity in using the internet to create China Pages which translated English websites for a Chinese audience.
He founded Alibaba in 1999, when e-commerce was a foreign concept in China – he once said, ‘I called myself a blind man riding on the back of blind tigers.’
Alibaba’s 2014 initial public offering set a record in New York, raising $25bn, Forbes reports.
Huika Yan (Evergrande), first million in three years, first billion in 13 years
Huika Yan, 51, is one of Hong Kong’s most powerful property tycoon’s with an estimated worth of $36.2bn, he made his fist million within three years and progressed to a billion six years later.
He began life working in a steel factory after finishing college in 1982 and began picking up budget real estate in the late 1990s, Forbes reports.
Huika Yan at a press conference in Beijing last year – he made his first million in three years and took another decade to become a billionaire
He owns sports team and sold 50% of his championship-winning Guangzhou Evergrande Football Club to Ma’s Alibaba Group in 2014 for $192million, Success Story reported.
He is also one China’s top charitable donors, giving away $62million and receiving the National Model Worker award from the reigning Communist Party in 2011.
Sheldon Adelson (Las Vegas Sands), first million in 12 years, first billion in 53 years
Sheldon Adelson, 85, made his cash from American real estate and computing before getting into casinos and is chairman of Las Vegas Sands.
He made his first million within 12 years of his career as an investor, but it would be another 41 years before he hit the billion dollar mark.
Sheldon Adelson, Chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation sits in his private box and watches Donald Trump speaking at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio during the 2016 campaign
Today his fortune is estimated at $35.1bn, owning more than half of the gambling empire he created, Forbes reported.
Adelson is a massive Trump fan and along with his wife, donated $123million to Republican campaigners last year.