Billionaires are front page news. Most people have heard of Bill Gates, who is the 2nd wealthiest man in the world and also a billionaire. He is well-known, not only for his huge brain and tech innovations but also for his philanthropic efforts to help the world with malaria. Jeff Bezos, who founded and runs the uber successful Amazon.com is yet another billionaire name that most recognize. Then there’s Oprah Winfrey, an international media mogul who has inspired millions to change and improve their lives.
Billionaires are not just people who make money, they are also kinda rock stars. We watch their TED talks, see them simply be amazing, and read their books about how we can be, too. Even if you have the teensiest bit of ambition, we bet you admire at least one of the famous billionaires, like Richard Branson, founder and President of Virgin and ultimate adventure fanatic.
It might surprise you to know that there are quite a few, more secret billionaires out there. They are not writing books or on Twitter. No, these unknown billionaires are just diligently making money, staying very low profile in today’s totally connected world. You can’t follow them on Instagram or Twitter – and please don’t follow them in person… really! But seriously, they are highly dedicated to their businesses and investments and have no desire to be famous. Leave the TED Talks to the others who have three commas to their ultra impressive bank accounts.
Here are 10 billionaires that you may not know by name. Their products and companies are probably instantly recognizable. You may have them in your fridge, medicine cabinet, or be wearing them right now! Their names are likely known and respected in their industry. But we bet if you heard the Starbucks barista call any of these names to give them a fancy coffee, that you wouldn’t connect it to who they are and what they do to earn this huge amount of money. So let’s get to know them now…
10. Sergey Brin
Net worth: $47.5 Billion
President of Alphabet, Inc. (the parent company of Google.com)
Sergey Brin is a rather successful guy you don’t know. As of spring 2018, he is considered to be the 13th richest person on the globe. Brin co-founded Google with Larry Page. Now, he is the President of Alphabet, Inc., which is the parent company for Google.
Both Brin’s father and grandfather had a passion for math and science. Brin attended Stanford University to get his PhD, and this is where he met Larry Page. They began Google in a garage and, as we know, the company certainly grew.
One of Brin’s strong interests has been Google’s driverless cars. He also has done philanthropic work through Google’s charity, Google.org, to help with alternative energy and combating climate change.
9. Bernard Arnault
Net worth: $72 Billion
Chairman & CEO of LVMH
Bernard Arnault is the 3rd richest person in the world and is also the wealthiest person in the fashion industry. He is the Chairman for Christian Dior S.A. and the Chairman and CEO for LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE. This company is a French international luxury goods company, with its headquarters in Paris.
It will come as no surprise that Arnault admires aesthetics and beauty, so he is a dedicated art collector. His personal art collection focuses on contemporary art and includes works by well-known artists such as Picasso, Henry Moore, and Andy Warhol. Arnault has made LVMH a major patron of art in France. One thing to note that is quite admirable: each year LVMH hosts The LVMH Young Fashion Designer international competition, for students at fine art schools. The winner receives a wonderful prize of a grant to develop their own designer label and a year of mentorship from LVMH.
Arnault has made some savvy investments, which include Netflix, and then buying Princess Yachts in 2008. He also owns 10% of France’s biggest supermarket retailing chain, through a California company.
8. Ma Huateng
Net worth: $45.3 Billion
Chairman & Founder of Tencent Holdings
Ma Huateng is quite successful… to put it lightly. He owns one of the biggest Internet companies for investment, gaming and entertainment in the world. This is considered to be Asia’s most valuable company today – keep in mind that Huateng’s Tencent Holdings manages China’s largest mobile instant messaging and other services related to smartphones, such as payment systems, entertainment, and even the smartphones themselves. Today, he is considered to be China’s wealthiest man and is the 14th wealthiest person on the globe. Hauteng’s great wealth comes from owning 9.7% of Tencent Holdings. Some of his wise investments include real estate in Hong Kong, and he is an art collector.
One thing Hauteng is especially known for is having a truly “low profile” entrepreneurial style. He rarely appears in public and is known for being a very private person. One thing we do know about him is a favorited nickname of “Pony,” because of the translation of his name in English, which means “horse.” In 2018, Time magazine called him “one of the world’s most influential people.” He is also a deputy to the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Congress, and has served in the 12th National People’s Congress.
7. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers
Net worth: $42.2 Billion
Chairwoman of holding company for L’Oréal and heiress to Liliane Bettencourt
According to L’Oréal Finance, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers and her family are the largest shareholder in the company, with 33.13% of the stock. The next shareholder is International Institutional Investors, with 29.28% of the stock. 23.17% of the company is owned by Nestle.
Bettencourt Meyers is considered to be one of two of the richest women in the world. The other is Alice Walton, who is the heiress to the Walmart fortune.
She is a private person, preferring to spend her time with family and friends. One of her favorite things to do is to play the piano for several hours each day. Bettencourt Meyers is an academic who wrote two serious, scholarly books. One was a five volume study about the Bible, and another was a thorough genealogy study of the Greek gods. It is clear that Bettencourt Meyers is quite the intellectual.
6. Hui Ka Yan
Net worth: $30.3 Billion
Chairman of China Evergrande Group of Shenzhen
Hui Ka Yan is the largest shareholder of the China Evergrande Group, which is is likely Hong Kong’s busiest and most successful real estate development firm. They have more than 700 projects in 240 China cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. Nearly 75% of their projects are in what are considered to be 1st and 2nd tier cities.
Yan was overtaken as the richest man in China not too long ago, and is now the 3rd richest person in China and worked hard to become successful. He grew up in a rural area but had a passion for real estate. His company is now the biggest real estate developer in China, and he’s considered by many to essentially be China’s answer to Donald Trump (back when Trump was simply a real estate mogul, at least).
5. Jorge Paulo Lemann
Net worth: $27.4 Billion
Co-founder of 3G
Jorge Paulo Lemann is an investor, and quite a savvy one. He is considered to be the 29th richest person in the world. Lemann is also the richest person in all of Brazil.
He attended Harvard University and studied economics. Lemann is the co-founder of a Brazilian investment firm called 3G Capital. They own popular USA brands many of us know including Heinz, Burger King, and Anheuser-Busch.
Lemann is a quite private person, but people who’ve known him have compared him to Warren Buffett and Sam Walton.
4. Carlos Slim Helu
Net worth: $67.1 Billion
Owner of Grupo Carso
Carlos Slim Helu is considered to be the 7th richest person in the world, and the wealthiest person in Mexico. He owns a company which has holdings in many industries from education, to health care, to real estate, to energy, as well as technology, financial services, sports, and more. His holdings are 40% of the listings on the Mexican Stock Exchange. Helu’s net worth is about 6% of Mexico’s gross domestic product.
Even at a young age, he knew he wanted a career in business. He taught himself accounting and financial statements. He graduated from college as a civil engineering major. Helu credits his math skills as a critical key to his business success. In his office, Helu does not like to use computers, but keeps financial data in notebooks, written by hand.
Helu is active with charitable giving and especially cares about the arts, education, sports, health care and downtown restoration of Mexico City.
3. Mukesh Ambani
Net worth: $40.1 Billion
Chairman, Managing Director & Largest Shareholder of Reliance Industries
Mukesh Ambani is the wealthiest person in India and is the 18th richest person in the world. He is also one of the wealthiest sports owners in the world, as the owner of the Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians.
As top shareholder in Reliance Industries, India’s largest gas and oil company, Ambani owns 44.7% of the stock. He got an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and went to Stanford University for his MBA. But he left Stanford to help his father start Reliance when it was still a small and growing company.
Charity matters to Ambani. He is considered the 5th top philanthropist in India by China’s Hurun Research Institute. In his personal life, he is private and serious minded. He is a vegetarian and a teetoler.
2. Susanne Klatten
Net worth: $25 Billion
BMW and Altana Heiress and Investor
Susanne Klatten is an heiress from Germany. Her maiden name is Quandt. She is considered to be the wealthiest woman in Germany and also is the 38th richest person in the world.
She has found that being so wealthy has been a problem occasionally, so she has worked at times under the name “Susanne Kant.” Klatten has an undergraduate degree in finance and also a MBA. She has worked for a London bank, and also for the bank Bankhaus Reuschel & Co.
Klatten owns 19% of BMW and she is on their supervisory board. When her father passed away, she received his 50.1% stake in Altana, a pharmaceutical and chemicals manufacturer company. Klatten also owns 25% stake on Nordez, a German wind turbine company.
1. Amancio Ortega
Net worth: $70 Billion
Co-founder & Chairman of Inditex and pioneer of “fast fashion”
Many know about Amancio Ortega’s fashion brand Zara, which has both clothing and accessories. Ortega is considered to be the 2nd wealthiest person in Europe and the 6th richest in the world. He is one of the pioneers of what is known as “fast fashion” – to have styles available even quicker than simply every season to satisfy customers’ demands, much to their delight.
His first Zara store was opened in 1975 with his wife. Now his empire has more than 6,000 stores which include Zara and brands such as Tempe and Stradivarius. He has more than 90,000 employees.
Ortega is known for having a very simple lifestyle. He also keeps a truly low profile. Up until 1999, there was no photograph of Ortega that had ever been published. Now, even when photographed for the public, he refuses to wear a tie. Ortega has only given three public interviews.
Philanthropic efforts matter to him. In 2012, he donated $20 million to Caritas International.