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20 interesting self-made billionaires (20 Photos)
Mark Zuckerberg – Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is an American entrepreneur best known for co-founding the popular social networking site Facebook. Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook with fellow classmates Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Chris Hughes while attending Harvard. Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York to a Jewish family and raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York. He started programming when he was in middle school. Early on, Zuckerberg enjoyed developing computer programs, especially communication tools and games. Microsoft and AOL tried to purchase a music player named Synapse developed by Zuckerberg and recruit him, but he decided to attend Harvard University instead, where he joined Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity.
Sara Blakely – American businesswoman, Sara Blakely has an estimated net worth of $1 billion as of March 2012 according to Forbes list. Blakely founded Spanx, a multi-million dollar undergarment company. She is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire. She was 29 when she invested her entire life savings, $5,000, trying to come up with something flattering to wear under her white slacks. Six months later, the one-time Disney World ride greeter and door-to-door fax machine salesperson found her new line of shaping underwear, Spanx, named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things.
Steve Jobs – Steven Paul “Steve” Jobs was an American businessman, and the co-founder and chief executive officer of Apple Inc. Jobs had served as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios and was a member of the Walt Disney Company’s Board of Directors. Jobs was born in San Francisco and was adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs of Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California who named him Steven Paul. Paul and Clara later adopted a daughter, who they named Patty. Steve grew up in the apricot orchards which later became known as Silicon Valley.
Kirk Kerkorian – Kerkor “Kirk” Kerkorian is the Armenian-American president/CEO of Tracinda Corporation, his private holding company based in Beverly Hills, California. Kerkorian is known as one of the important figures in shaping the city of Las Vegas, Nevada and, with architect Martin Stern, Jr. the “father of the megaresort.” He worked hard, taking up many odd jobs to help his poor parents. He became an amateur boxer under the tutelage of his older brother Nish, a boxer. At 17, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. When he was 25 he joined the Morton Air Academy where he rose to the rank of a lieutenant and became an army flight instructor. During World War II Kirk flew daredevil missions across the Atlantic for the Royal Air Force. He then started a plane charter service. He took it public in 1965. In 1968 he sold out to the TransAmerica Corporation. Kerkorian got about $85 million worth of stock in the TransAmerica conglomerate.In 1973 he acquired MGM, the famous movie studio, and opened the MGM Grand Hotel, which was the largest hotel in the world at that time.
Bill Gates – William Henry “Bill” Gates III is an American business magnate, philanthropist, and popularly known as chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen. Gates is one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. His family was upper middle class; his father was a prominent lawyer, his mother served on the board of directors for First Interstate BancSystem and the United Way. Early on in his life, Gates’ parents had a law career in mind for him.
Amancio Ortega Gaona – Amancio Ortega Gaona is a Spanish fashion entrepreneur. Ranked by Forbes as Spain’s richest man and the 10th richest man in the World in 2009. He is the founder, with his then-wife Rosalía Mera, and chairman of the Inditex Group. He currently lives with his second wife in a discreet apartment building in the center of A Coruña. Ortega arrived at A Coruña, Spain, at the age of 14, due to the job of his father, a railway worker. Starting as a gofer in various shirt stores in A Coruña, Galicia, he founded Confecciones Goa, which made bathrobes, but in 1975 he opened the first store in what would grow into the enormously popular chain of fashion stores called Zara.
Angelo R. Mozilo – Angelo R. Mozilo was the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Countrywide Financial until July 1, 2008. Mozilo was born in New York City, the son of a Bronx butcher. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University in 1960. In 1969, he and his former mentor David S. Loeb, who had already started a mortgage lending company, founded Countrywide Credit Industries in New York. They later moved the headquarters to Calabasas, California in Los Angeles County. Mozilo and Loeb also cofounded IndyMac Bank, which was founded as Countrywide Mortgage Investment, before being spun off as an independent bank in 1997. IndyMac collapsed and was seized by federal regulators on July 11, 2008. Condé Nast Portfolio ranked Mozilo second on their list of “Worst American CEOs of All Time and CNN named Mozilo as one of the “Ten Most Wanted: Culprits” of the 2008 financial collapse in the United States. The Securities and Exchange Commission in June filed civil-fraud charges for “deliberately misleading investors about the significant credit risks being taken in efforts to build and maintain the company’s market share.” Mozilo’s compensation during the housing bubble from 2001-06 is under scrutiny. During that period, his total compensation (including salary, bonuses, options and restricted stock) was $470 million.
Doris Fisher – Founded Gap in 1969 with her late husband Donald, who died in September of cancer at age 81. Originally a San Francisco jeans and music store, Gap empire grew to more than 3,000 locations and expanded to include Banana Republic, Gap Kids and Old Navy. Owns large contemporary art collection. Handed control to sons John, Robert and William in 2004.
Ed Liddy – Ed Liddy, former chief executive officer of American International Group (AIG) had to face lot of hardships before he rose to great heights. Ed Liddy’s father died when he was just 12 years old. According to a BusinessWeek report, he had a poverty-stricken childhood. Liddy graduated from Catholic University of America in 1968 and received a master’s degree in business administration from George Washington University in 1972. He worked with Ford Motor before joining G D Searle & Co in 1981.
The 63-year old Liddy earned about $130 million during his eight-year tenure at Allstate. In the wake of the financial crisis, Ed Liddy came to rescue the ailing AIG, worked for a salary of $1. But the act turned disastrous when the company handed out employee bonuses totaling $165 million after it had accepted $170 billion in government bailout funds. This forced him to quit AIG.
Frank Stronach – Frank Stronach is an Austrian-Canadian businessman. He is the founder of Magna International, an international automotive parts company based in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and Magna Entertainment Corp., which specializes in horse-racing entertainment. Born as Franz Strohsack in the small town of Kleinsemmering, Styria, Austria to working-class parents, Stronach’s childhood was marked by the Great Depression and the Second World War. At the age of 14, he left school to apprentice as a tool and die maker. In 1954, he arrived in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and later moved to the province of Ontario. He currently resides in Oberwaltersdorf, Austria and Aurora, Ontario. Magna International is today a global automotive empire with 326 manufacturing plants, engineering centers and sales offices across North America, South America, Asia and Europe that employ about 82,000 people.
Oprah Winfrey – Born to single teenage mother, Oprah grew up on grandmother’s farm in Mississippi. Moved to Wisconsin where she says she was a victim of sexual abuse. Talk show debuted in 1986, now a haven for women worldwide. Guests range from celebrities to politicians to victims of abuse. Expanded empire includes broadcasts around world, O magazine, esteemed book club and “favorite things” lists. Daytime talk queen is moved show to a night slot on the new Oprah Winfrey Network cable channel.
Ingvar Kamprad – Ingvar Feodor Kamprad is a Swedish entrepreneur who is the founder of the home furnishing retail chain IKEA. As of 2010, he is the eleventh wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of around $23 billion in 2010. Kamprad began to develop a business as a young boy, selling matches to neighbors from his bicycle. He found that he could buy matches in bulk very cheaply from Stockholm, sell them individually at a low price, and still make a good profit. From matches, he expanded to selling fish, Christmas tree decorations, seeds and later ballpoint pens and pencils. When Kamprad was 17, his father gave him a cash reward for succeeding in his studies. He used that money to establish what has grown into IKEA.
Karl Albrecht – Karl and Theo Albrecht were raised in modest circumstances in Essen. Their father was employed as a miner and later as a baker’s assistant. Their mother had a small grocery store in the worker’s quarter of Schonnebeck. Theo completed an apprenticeship in his mother’s store, while Karl worked in a delicatessen shop. Karl also served in the German Army during World War II. After the end of World War II, the brothers took over their mother’s business (1946). The first Aldi (Albrecht-Discount) was opened in 1961.
Ken Langone – Sir Kenneth Langone is a venture capitalist, investment banker and financial backer of The Home Depot, and a former director of the New York Stock Exchange. He was elected as director of Yum! and is a member of the Audit Committee. Langone holds an M.B.A. from and is also a trustee of New York University. His father was a plumber and his mother worked in a cafeteria. His parents had to mortgage their house to send Langone to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. An ambitious and optimistic Langone worked as a ditch digger and a butcher’s assistant to make money while studying. As an investment banker and entrepreneur, his business record highlights the values of persistence and sound business principles. His total compensation as director of Home Depot in 2008 stood at $1,136,219.
Lakshmi Mittal – The CEO and founder of ArcelorMittal, Lakshmi Niwas Mittal was born on June 15, 1950 at Sadulpur, in Churu district of Rajasthan, in a poor family. Laxmi Mittal belongs to Marwari Aggarwal caste and his grandfather worked for the Tarachand Ghanshyam Das firm, one of the leading Marwari industrial firms of pre-independence India. Laxmi Mittal lived with the extended family of 20 members on bare concrete floors, slept on rope beds and cooked on an open fire in the brickyard in a house built by his grandfather.
Larry Ellison – He was adopted by a middle class family in Chicago nine months after he was born to an unwed Jewish lady. Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corporation was a bright student, showed a good aptitude for math and science. But he left the University of Illinois at the end of his second year, after his mother died.
He later studied computer designing. He moved to California, where he did several odd jobs for about eight years. Finally, as a programmer at Ampex, he participated in building the first IBM-compatible mainframe system. In 1977, Ellison and two of his Ampex colleagues, Robert Miner and Ed Oates, founded their own company, Software Development Labs, with just $1400 from his savings. The company was later renamed Oracle Corporation.
He is currently listed on the Forbes list of billionaires as the fourth richest person in the world. Ellison is the third richest American, the 65-year old Ellison is known for his extravagant lifestyle, races sailboats and flies planes.
Mikhail Prokhorov – Mikhail Prokhorov is a self-made Russian billionaire entrepreneur. After graduating from the Moscow Finance Institute, he made his name in the financial sector and went on to become one of Russia’s leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While he was running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. He is currently the chairman of Polyus Gold, Russia’s largest gold producer, and President of Onexim Group. Prokhorov is currently the richest man in Russia and the 40th richest man in the world according to the 2009 Forbes list.
Roman Abramovich – Started his multi-billion-dollar business during his army service where he sold stolen gasoline to some of the commissioned officers of his unit. Also worked as a street-trader and then as a mechanic at a local factory. But it all got going for him by 1996, at the age of 30, Abramovich had become so rich and politically well-connected that he had become close to President Boris Yeltsin, and had moved into an apartment in the Kremlin at the invitation of the Yeltsin family. In 1999, and now a tycoon, Abramovich was elected governor of Russia’s remote, far eastern province of Chukotka, and has since lavished £112 million (€ 132 million) on charity to rebuild the impoverished region.
Sheldon Adelson – Sheldon Gary Adelson is an American businessman. He is a property developer and public company CEO based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Born to Jewish parents, Adelson grew up in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, a rough-and-tumble section of Boston, where his father drove a taxicab. He worked at a young age selling newspapers on local street corners and owned his first business by the time he was 12. In the years that followed, he worked as a mortgage broker, investment adviser and financial consultant. He started a business selling toiletry kits, and in the 1960s he started a charter tours business with two friends. He went to college at City College of New York but did not complete a degree there.
Ursula Burns – Ursula M. Burns became the first black woman to become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company in July 2009. The 51-year-old Burns started her career as an engineering intern in 1980. Burns led several business teams including the office color and fax business and office network printing business. In April 2007, Burns was named president of Xerox, expanding her leadership to include the company’s IT organization, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate marketing and global accounts. Burns ranked 10th in the Fortune list of 50 Most Powerful Women in America. Her salary package for 2008 stood at $887,500, but total compensation stood at a whopping $6,003,126. In an interview with the New York Times, she described growing up poor with “lots of Jewish immigrants, fewer Hispanics and African-Americans, but the great equalizer was poverty.” Burns’ mother used to run a home day care center.