Billionaire Late Bloomers, by Age of Breakthrough
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Billionaire Late Bloomers, by Age of Their Breakthrough

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Billionaire Late Bloomers, by Age of Breakthrough

More often than not, individuals and media alike focus on the success stories of early bloomers.

These early-age accomplishments of some of the richest people in the world are highlighted as marvels. The early achievements of hoodie-wearing CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg or Evan Spiegel—who became billionaires at ages 23 and 25, respectively—come to mind.

But there’s also the case to be made for the late bloomer. According to the Census Bureau, a 35-year-old is three times more likely to found a successful start-up than someone aged 22.

The infographic above, from Virtual College, highlights 45 billionaires who had their breakthrough later in life, by the age of their respective breakthrough.

Billionaires With Career Breakthroughs at or After Age 35

Though these late successes span many different industries and countries, there are many consistent through lines.

The 45 billionaires highlighted had an average age of 41 and an average net worth of $10 billion.

BillionaireCompanyAge of BreakthroughNet Worth ($B)Nationality
Eduardo EurnekianCorporacion America56$1.3🇦🇷 Argentina
Issad RebrabCevital54$4.8🇩🇿 Algeria
Torstein HagenViking Cruises54$1.5🇳🇴 Norway
Ion TiriacBanca Tiriac51$1.7🇷🇴 Romania
Mike AdenugaGlobacom50$6.1🇳🇬 Nigeria
Hussain SajwaniDamac Properties49$2.4🇦🇪 UAE
Radhakishan DamaniDmart48$16.5🇮🇳 India
Robert KuokShangra-La Hotels and Resorts48$12.6🇲🇾 Malaysia
Ricardo PoCentury Pacific47$1.1🇵🇭 Philippines
Alain TarvellaAltarea Cogedim Group46$2.0🇫🇷 France
Seo Jung-JinCelltrion44$14.2🇰🇷 South Korea
James DysonDyson Ltd44$9.7🇬🇧 UK
Walter FariaGrupo Petropolis43$2.9🇧🇷 Brazil
Horst PaulmannCencosud43$3.3🇨🇱 Chile
Wolfgang MarguerreOctapharma Group42$9.1🇩🇪 Germany
Hansjorg WyssSynthes42$6.0🇨🇭Switzerland
Giorgio ArmaniGiorgio Armani S.p.A.41$7.7🇮🇹 Italy
Dietrich MateschitzRed Bull40$29.6🇦🇹 Austria
Sergei KatsievMegapolis40$1.7🇷🇺 Russia
Li XitingShenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics40$21.5🇸🇬 Singapore
Jim SimmonsRenaissance Technologies40$24.6🇺🇸 U.S.
Richard WhiteWiseTech Global39$3.5🇦🇺 Australia
Amancio OrtegaZara39$77🇪🇸 Spain
Barry LamQuanta Computer39$5.3🇹🇼 Taiwan
Arnon MilchanNew Regency Enterprises38$3.4🇮🇱 Israel
Taha MikatiInvestcom38$2.5🇱🇧 Lebanon
Arnout SchuijffAdyen38$3.5🇳🇱 Netherlands
Chuchat & Daonapa PetampaiMuangthai Capital38$3.5🇹🇭 Thailand
Jaime Gilinski BacalBanco De Colombia37$3.8🇨🇴 Colombia
Mohamed Al FayedGenevaco (Ritz Paris, Harrods)37$1.8🇪🇬 Egypt
Vardis VardinyannisMotor Oil Hellas37$1.4🇬🇷 Greece
German Larrea Mota-VelascoGrupo Mexico37$25.9🇲🇽 Mexico
Martin LorentzonSpotify37$6.0🇸🇪 Sweden
Tran Ba DuongTraco37$1.6🇻🇳 Vietnam
Strive MasiyiwaEconet Global37$1.5🇿🇼 Zimbabwe
Zygmunt Solorz-ZakPolsat36$3.2🇵🇱 Poland
Mehmet AydinlarAcibadem Healthcare Group36$1.3🇹🇷 Turkey
Joseph TsaiAlibaba Group35$11.6🇨🇦 Canada
Jack MaAlibaba Group35$48.4🇨🇳 China
Eduard KuceraAvast35$1.1🇨🇿 Czech Republic
Bidzina IvanishviliRossiysky Kredit35$4.8🇬🇪 Georgia
TahirThe Mayapada Group35$3.3🇮🇩 Indonesia
John ArmitageEgerton Capital35$2.6🇮🇪 Ireland
Tadashi YanaiUniqlo35$44.1🇯🇵 Japan
Richard HartRaynolds Packaging Group35$8.7🇳🇿 New Zealand

Here are just a few highlights of late career breakthroughs:

Jack Ma

Ma is best known for co-founding Alibaba and becoming one of China’s wealthiest people, but his start came rather unexpectedly. After failing to secure jobs as a fresh graduate and starting his own translation company, Ma went on a business trip to the U.S. and discovered the internet (and a lack of Chinese websites). Over time, he connected Chinese companies with American coders to create websites, and soon saw room in the market for a business-to-business marketplace, which became Alibaba. The company secured millions in investment and would go on to become one of China’s leading forces in tech, all without Ma writing a single line of code.

Amancio Ortega

As the former CEO of fashion chain Zara and its parent company Inditex, Ortega is Europe’s third wealthiest person. That success came after opening the first Zara store in 1975 with his then-wife Rosalía Mera, with their store focusing on cheaper versions of high-end fashion. Ortega fine-tuned the design and manufacturing process to produce new trends more quickly, helping to pioneer the concept of “fast fashion,” and soon becoming a fashion powerhouse.

Jim Simons

Simons was once lauded as the world’s greatest investor, largely due to his outlandish returns of over 60% before fees. But he actually started in the academic field, acquiring a PhD in mathematics—he worked in many faculties, and even as a codebreaker for the NSA. Eventually, Simons utilized his mathematical knowledge on Wall Street, where he had his breakthrough in 1982 by starting his model-based hedge fund—Renaissance Technologies, and built a net worth of $24.6 billion.

Dietrich Mateschitz

One of the 60 richest people in the world, Austrian businessman Mateschitz got his start in marketing for Unilever and then cosmetics company Blendax. His breakthrough came on a business trip to Thailand, where the 40-year-old discovered that the local energy drink Krating Daeng helped his jet lag. Mateschitz and the drink’s creator, Chaleo Yoovidhya, each put up $500,000 to turn the drink into an exported energy brand, and Red Bull was born.

James Dyson

Before Dyson was a household name of vacuums, fans, and dryers, The UK’s James Dyson was an industrial engineer with many ideas for inventions. After getting frustrated with the bags of Hoover vacuum cleaners, Dyson had the idea for a bagless cyclone vacuum, and developed one after more than 5,000 prototypes over five years (and supported by his wife’s salary). At first he couldn’t find a manufacturer or success in the UK, so Dyson instead sold his vacuums in Japan and ended up winning the 1991 International Design Fair Prize there. Thirty years later, Dyson’s success led to a royal knighting and becoming the fourth richest person in the UK.

Late Bloomers: The Rule Not The Exception

It’s helpful to remember that these stories might be incredible and successful on a grand scale, but they are not entirely unique.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the majority of successful businesses have been founded by middle-aged people and the average age of a company’s founder at the time of founding is 41.9 years. Experience definitely pays dividends, and the saying that “life is a marathon, not a sprint” seems especially true for this list of late breakthrough billionaires.

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Personal Finance

How Do Americans Spend Their Money, By Generation?

This interactive graphic shows a breakdown of how average Americans spend their money, and how expenses vary across generations.

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Annual Expenditure in the U.S. by Generation

How Americans Spend Their Money, By Generation

In 2021, the average American spent just over $60,000 a year. But where does all their money go? Unsurprisingly, spending habits vary wildly depending on age.

This graphic by Preethi Lodha uses data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to show how average Americans spend their money, and how annual expenses vary across generations.

A Generational Breakdown of Overall Spending

Overall in 2021, Gen X (anyone born from 1965 to 1980) spent the most money of any U.S. generation, with an average annual expenditure of $83,357.

GenerationBirth Year RangeAverage Annual Expenditure (2021)
Silent1945 or earlier$44,683
Boomers1946 to 1964$62,203
Generation X1965 to 1980$83,357
Millennials1981 to 1996$69,061
Generation Z1997 or later$41,636

Gen X has been nicknamed the “sandwich generation” because many members of this age group are financially supporting both their aging parents as well as children of their own.

The second biggest spenders are Millennials with an average annual expenditure of $69,061. Just like Gen X, this generation’s top three spending categories are housing, healthcare, and personal insurance.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, members of Generation Z are the lowest spenders with an average of $41,636. per year. Their spending habits are expected to ramp up, especially considering that in 2022 the oldest Gen Zers are just 25 and still early in their careers.

Similarities Across Generations

While spending habits vary depending on the age group, there are some categories that remain fairly consistent across the board.

One of the most consistent spending categories is housing—it’s by the far the biggest expense for all age groups, accounting for more than 30% of total annual spending for every generation.

GenerationAverage Spend on Housing (2021)% of Total Spend
Silent (1945 or earlier)$16,65637.3%
Boomers (1946 to 1964)$21,27334.2%
Generation X (1965 to 1980)$26,38531.7%
Millennials (1981 to 1996)$24,05234.8%
Generation Z (1997 or later)$15,44937.1%

Another spending category that’s surprisingly consistent across every generation is entertainment. All generations spent more than 4% of their total expenditures on entertainment, but none dedicated more than 5.6%.

GenerationAverage Spend on Entertainment (2021)% of Total Spend
Silent (1945 or earlier)$2,0274.5%
Boomers (1946 to 1964)$3,4765.6%
Generation X (1965 to 1980)$4,6945.6%
Millennials (1981 to 1996)$3,4575.0%
Generation Z (1997 or later)$1,6934.1%

Gen Zers spent the least on entertainment, which could boil down to the types of entertainment this generation typically enjoys. For instance, a study found that 51% of respondents aged 13-19 watch videos on Instagram on a weekly basis, while only 15% watch cable TV.

Differences Across Generations

One category that varies the most between generations and relative needs is spending on healthcare.

As the table below shows, the Silent Generation spent an average of $7,053 on healthcare, or 15.8% of their total average spend. Comparatively, Gen Z only spent $1,354 on average, or 3.3% of their total average spend.

GenerationAverage Spend on Healthcare (2021)% of Total Spend
Silent (1945 or earlier)$7,05315.8%
Boomers (1946 to 1964)$6,59410.6%
Generation X (1965 to 1980)$5,5506.7%
Millennials (1981 to 1996)$4,0265.8%
Generation Z (1997 or later)$1,3543.3%

However, while the younger generations typically spend less on healthcare, they’re also less likely to be insured—so those who do get sick could be left with a hefty bill.

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Mapped: The World’s Billionaire Population, by Country

Collectively, worldwide billionaire wealth is nearly $12 trillion. This map breaks down where these 3,311 billionaires live around the globe.

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Visualized: The World’s Billionaire Population

The world’s billionaires—only 3,311 individuals—represent almost $11.8 trillion in wealth. The global billionaire population continued to grow in 2021, increasing by 3%. Over the same period, billionaire wealth also increased by 18%.

This map uses data from the Wealth-X Billionaire Census to visualize where the world’s billionaires live and breaks down their collective wealth.

Note on methodology: The report uses proprietary data from Wealth-X. Billionaire status is determined by assessing an individual’s total net worth, including publicly and privately held businesses and investable assets. To determine a billionaire’s location, Wealth-X used their primary business address.

Billionaires by Region

We’ll begin by zooming out to look at how various continents and world regions rank in terms of their billionaire population.

North America is home to most billionaires, worth $4.6 trillion. The U.S., unsurprisingly, accounts for the majority of this wealth, with 975 billionaires and a collective net worth of $4.45 trillion.

RankRegionNumber of billionairesCollective Billionaire Wealth
#1North America1,035$4.6 trillion
#2Europe954$3.1 trillion
#3Asia899$2.9 trillion
#4Middle East191$519 billion
#5Latin America and the Caribbean146$465 billion
#6Africa46$104 billion
#7Pacific40$89 billion

In regional terms, Europe’s billionaire wealth is growing the fastest, up 22% year-over-year in 2021. In contrast, the year-over-year change in the Middle East was -12.5%.

Asia is inching towards Europe, holding almost a quarter of all billionaire wealth worldwide, compared to Europe’s 26.5%.

Wealth in Africa will also be important to watch in coming years. Although only home to 46 billionaires currently, the change in billionaire wealth increased by almost 17% year-over-year. Additionally, while they no longer live there, a number of the world’s billionaires hail from African countries originally.

Billionaires by Country

Now, let’s look at the ranking broken down by the top 15 countries:

RankCountryNumber of BillionairesCollective Billionaire Wealth
#1🇺🇸 US975$4.45 trillion
#2🇨🇳 China400$1.45 trillion
#3🇩🇪 Germany176$602 billion
#4🇮🇳 India124$384 billion
#5🇬🇧 UK120$266 billion
#6🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR114$287 billion
#7🇨🇭 Switzerland111$365 billion
#8🇷🇺 Russia107$475 billion
#9🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia71$192 billion
#10🇫🇷 France68$294 billion
#11🇮🇹 Italy68$207 billion
#12🇨🇦 Canada60$131 billion
#13🇧🇷 Brazil52$159 billion
#14🇸🇬 Singapore50$99 billion
#15🇦🇪 UAE45$181 billion

China is an obvious second in billionaire wealth to the United States, with famous billionaires like Zhang Yiming ($44.5 billion) of TikTok and Zhong Shanshan ($67.1 billion), whose wealth primarily comes from the pharmaceutical and beverages industries.

That said, Chinese billionaire wealth actually decreased 2% last year. It was India that came out on top in terms of growth, seeing a 19% increase in 2021.

Billionaires by City

Looking at cities, New York is home to the most billionaires—with 13 added billionaire residents last year—followed by Hong Kong.

RankCityCountryNumber of Billionaires
#1New York City🇺🇸 U.S.138
#2Hong Kong🇭🇰 China114
#3San Francisco🇺🇸 U.S.85
#4London🇬🇧 UK77
#5Moscow🇷🇺 Russia75
#6Beijing🇨🇳 China63
#7Los Angeles🇺🇸 U.S.59
#8Singapore🇸🇬 Singapore50
#9Shenzhen🇨🇳 China44
#10Mumbai🇮🇳 India40
#11Dubai🇦🇪 UAE38
#12Hangzhou🇨🇳 China35
#13São Paulo🇧🇷 Brazil34
#14Istanbul🇹🇷 Turkey33
#15Paris🇫🇷 France33

Billionaire Wealth in 2022

Billionaires have significant power and influence, not in the least because their collective wealth is equivalent to about 11.8% of global GDP.

In recent billionaire news, Gautam Adani’s wealth has been soaring, most recently hitting the $145 billion mark, making him the third-richest person in the world according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. However, not all billionaires are holding on to their wealth. Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, recently transferred ownership of his company to an organization that fights climate change.

Over the last decade, billionaires have been grown their fortunes considerably, with wealth increasing at a faster rate than the growth in the number of billionaires themselves. According to Wealth-X, collective billionaire net worth grew by an astonishing 90% in the last 10 years.

But in the shorter term, the situation is often more volatile. With markets reeling in 2022, Bloomberg reported that billionaires lost a record $1.4 trillion over the first half of the year. Once the year is over and the final numbers are in, it will be interesting to see how the billionaire landscape shapes up in comparison to the more long-term trend.

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