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The Jump from Millionaire to Billionaire, and How Long That Takes

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Some people say that making the first million is the hardest.

Others, like oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens have quipped that the first billion is a “helluva lot harder”.

Regardless of which is true, it’s interesting to examine how long it took the world’s wealthiest to reach the million and billion dollar benchmarks, as well as how many years were in between.

Millions to Billions

Today’s infographic comes to us from Betway, and it provides a study of the 100 wealthiest billionaires that topped the 2018 edition of the Forbes Rich List.

The Jump from Millionaire to Billionaire, and How Long That Takes

Based on the top 100 billionaires studied from the Rich List, the average age for hitting millionaire status is 37. Meanwhile, the billion dollar mark is hit on average at the age of 51.

This puts the average time period to go from millionaire to billionaire at 14 years.

Making the Jump, by Industry

Even with this small sample size, it’s clear that how fast this jump happens depends greatly on industry.

Tech entrepreneurs were by far the fastest on the list to go from millionaire to billionaire, with an average time of only 7.3 years. That number is averaged down by entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos, who has singlehandedly been able to amass an impressive empire of companies and assets in a very short period of time.

Tech EntrepreneurMillionaire (Age)Billionaire (Age)Difference
Jeff Bezos33352 years
Bill Gates26315 years
Mark Zuckerberg22231 year
Larry Ellison42497 years
Larry Page25305 years
Sergey Brin26315 years
Ma Huateng33363 years
Jack Ma354510 years
Steve Ballmer30388 years

Other industries don’t have the same luxuries as tech, where products can go from Zero to One at such high speeds.

In the automotive, construction, and real estate industries, for example, there are costly physical assets to deal with, as well as fiercer competition. At the same time, innovations are often more incremental, and companies cannot be scaled as fast.

Making the Jump, by Country

Interestingly, the jump from millionaire to billionaire took the longest in the United States, with a period of 14.1 years on average for self-made billionaires.

CountryTime to go from $1M to $1B
Russia9.0 years
China9.9 years
Japan11.0 years
United States14.1 years

While this may seem counter-intuitive, there are a couple of caveats worth mentioning.

For starters, the sample size is extremely small at just the top 100 billionaires, which means that a country like Russia has only so many in the mix. This low sample size can distort figures, and not be particularly representative of a true average.

Further, economies like Russia and China have recently transitioned from more controlled economies to more market-driven ones. This has allowed oligarchs and well-connected individuals to take advantage, while amassing new wealth at astonishing rates.

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The Wealthiest People in the World, Outside of America

This graphic shows the wealthiest people in the world that live in countries either than America, from luxury moguls to India’s titans.

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The Wealthiest People in the World, Outside of America

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Today, nine of the top 10 wealthiest people in the world are American, largely due to fortunes in big tech—but looking beyond U.S. borders tells a different story.

In Asia, people in the highest echelons of wealth are energy and industrial titans, while the richest in Europe run luxury conglomerates and major consumer firms. Many of these companies are well known globally, and several are only known within their region.

This graphic shows the richest people that live outside of America, based on data from Bloomberg.

The World’s Richest: A Global Perspective

Here are the wealthiest non-American people in the world as of January 2024:

RankNameCountryNet Worth
Jan 2024
1Bernard Arnault🇫🇷 France$183B
2Mukesh Ambani🇮🇳 India$108B
3Carlos Slim🇲🇽 Mexico$101B
4Françoise Bettencourt Meyers🇫🇷 France$97B
5Gautam Adani🇮🇳 India$96B
6Amancio Ortega🇪🇸 Spain$85B
7Zhong Shanshan🇨🇳 China$62B
8Gerard Wertheimer🇫🇷 France$47B

France’s Bernard Arnault, with a net worth of $183 billion, is the world’s richest person thanks to the success of LVMH, the luxury conglomerate he runs.

With brands including Louis Vuitton, Fendi, and Christian Dior, LVMH is among the largest public companies in Europe, reaching a $444 billion valuation in 2024. Last year, the company witnessed record revenues driven by sales in its fashion and leather divisions.

Latin America’s richest person is Carlos Slim, with a fortune of $101 billion. Slim’s net worth is equal to nearly 8% of Mexico’s GDP. His wealth is largely derived from his ownership of América Móvil, Latin America’s largest mobile-phone operator, as well as his conglomerate, Grupo Carso.

The world’s richest woman is Françoise Bettencourt Meyers, also from France. According to Bloomberg, Bettencourt Meyers’ controls one-third of L’Oreal, and is the chairwoman of her family’s private equity firm, Tethys Investments.

As China’s richest person, Zhong Shanshan is chairman of bottled water company, Nongfu Spring. The company is listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, where it raised $1.1 billion from its 2020 IPO. He is also involved with Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, a producer of vaccines.

While the richest people in America are heavily concentrated in tech, not one on this list derives the majority of their wealth from the sector, illustrating a clear departure from this trend.

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