The Richest People in the World
In the last year, the wealth controlled by the world’s top 10 billionaires has jumped by over $76B.
Even in the teeth of jittery markets, many of the world’s richest people have seen their wealth surge to new heights as COVID-19 unfolds.
Today’s infographic draws data from Forbes Billionaire’s List and shows a broad cross-section of the world’s billionaires – highlighting their stratospheric wealth in the current economic climate.
Wealth in Astonishing Circumstances
The below table shows the fortunes of the world’s 10 richest people, comparing the numbers from March 5, 2019 to the most recent data from April 22, 2020.
|Rank||Name||Net Worth 2020*||Net Worth 2019*||Change 2019-2020|
|#3||Bernard Arnault & Family||$92B||$76B||+$15.5B|
Source: Forbes – *As of April 22, 2020 **As of March 5, 2019
Gaining the highest across the top 10 is former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who saw his fortune rise over $21 billion since March 2019.
Facing the steepest losses belong to investing luminary Warren Buffett, whose net worth has dropped over $9 billion over the past year. At year-end 2019 Buffett was a 11% shareholder in Delta Airlines. In April, Buffett sold 13 million shares in the airline.
Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune is holding steady. Amazingly, the Facebook founder still remains one of the world’s youngest billionaires (ranking 22nd out of 2,095) despite first joining the billionaire club a dozen years ago.
Newcomers to the List
As a new decade begins, who are among the most newly-minted billionaires?
Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom has climbed in the ranks as online video communication demand soars. Zoom went public in April 2019 at a stunning $9.2 billion IPO valuation. As of April 24, 2020, Zoom was valued at over $44.3 billion.
|Rank||Name||Net Worth||Source of Wealth|
|#2||Anthony von Mandl||$3.9B||Mark Anthony Brands|
|#3||Larry Xiangdong Chen||$3.6B||GSX Techedu|
|#6||Sun Huaiqing||$3.0B||Guangdong Marubi Biotechnology|
|#7||Forrest Li||$2.4B||Sea Group|
|#10||Qian Ying||$1.5B||Muyuan Foods|
*As of April 22, 2020
Similarly, Netherland’s Jitse Groen has witnessed his food-delivery company Takeaway.com expand extensively. Takeaway.com currently operates in 11 countries across Europe and received regulatory approval to complete a $7.6 billion merger with JustEat in April.
Forrest Li who runs Sea, an online-gaming and e-commerce company, has similarly joined the ranks. Tencent and private equity firm General Atlantic are among its major stakeholders.
The COVID-19 Response
As the global economy contends with a loss of confidence and job losses, some of the world’s richest people are stepping up to the plate.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is donating roughly 25% of his net worth to COVID-19 in the form of Square stock, valued at $1B.
His donation, which was placed in a donor-advised fund called Start Small LLC, is more than four times higher than any other billionaire. That said, after the pandemic, Dorsey also stated that this money may also go towards girl’s health and education, as well as universal basic income (UBI).
|Rank||Name||COVID-19-Related Donation||% of Net Worth|
|#2||Bill & Melinda Gates||$255M||0.2%|
|#7||Lynn Schusterman, Stacy Schusterman||$70M||2.1%|
*As of April 15, 2020
Overall, 77 of the world’s billionaires have made public contributions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, just a fraction of the world’s ultra-rich.
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, will the world’s billionaires still accumulate wealth at greater speeds, or will a different picture emerge as unconventional policies around the world become increasingly commonplace?
The $88 Trillion World Economy in One Chart
The world’s total GDP crested $88 trillion in 2019—but how are the current COVID-19 economic contractions affecting its future outlook?
The $88 Trillion World Economy in One Chart
The global economy can seem like an abstract concept, yet it influences our everyday lives in both obvious and subtle ways. Nowhere is this clearer than in the current economic state amid the throes of the pandemic.
Editor’s note: Annual data on economic output is a lagging indicator, and is released the following year by organizations such as the World Bank. The figures in this diagram provide a snapshot of the global economy in 2019, but do not necessarily represent the impact of recent developments such as COVID-19.
Top 10 Countries by GDP (2019)
In the one-year period since the last release of official data in 2018, the global economy grew approximately $2 trillion in size—or about 2.3%.
The United States continues to have the top GDP, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the world economy. China also continued to grow its share of global GDP, going from 15.9% to 16.3%.
|Rank||Country||GDP||% of Global GDP|
|Top 10 Countries||$58.7 trillion||66.9%|
In recent years, the Indian economy has continued to have an upward trajectory—now pulling ahead of both the UK and France—to become one of the world’s top five economies.
In aggregate, these top 10 countries combine for over two-thirds of total global GDP.
2020 Economic Contractions
So far this year, multiple countries have experienced temporary economic contractions, including many of the top 10 countries listed above.
The following interactive chart from Our World in Data helps to give us some perspective on this turbulence, comparing Q2 economic figures against those from the same quarter last year.
One of the hardest hit economies has been Peru. The Latin American country, which is about the 50th largest in terms of GDP globally, saw its economy contract by 30.2% in Q2 despite efforts to curb the virus early.
Spain and the UK are also feeling the impact, posting quarterly GDP numbers that are 22.1% and 21.7% smaller respectively.
Meanwhile, Taiwan and South Korea are two countries that may have done the best at weathering the COVID-19 storm. Both saw minuscule contractions in a quarter where the global economy seemed to grind to a halt.
Projections Going Forward
According to the World Bank, the global economy could ultimately shrink 5.2% in 2020—the deepest cut since WWII.
See below for World Bank projections on GDP in 2020 for when the dust settles, as well as the subsequent potential for recovery in 2021.
|Country/ Region / Economy Type||2020 Growth Projection||2021E Rebound Forecast|
|East Asia and Pacific||-0.5%||6.6%|
|Europe and Central Asia||-4.7%||3.6%|
|Latin America and the Caribbean||-7.2%||2.8%|
|Middle East and North Africa||-4.2%||2.3%|
Source: World Bank Global Economic Prospects, released June 2020
Ranked: The World’s Richest Families in 2020
Who’s the richest of them all? Here’s a look at the 25 wealthiest families in the world, and the companies that kickstarted their empires.
The World’s Richest Families in 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped the world’s wealthiest families from growing their fortunes. Over the past year, the richest family—the Waltons—grew their wealth by $25 billion, or almost $3 million per hour.
This graphic, using data from Bloomberg, ranks the 25 most wealthy families in the world. The data excludes first-generation wealth and wealth controlled by a single heir, which is why you don’t see Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates on the list. Families whose source of wealth is too diffused or opaque to be valued are also excluded.
The Full Breakdown
Intergenerational wealth is a powerful thing. It often prevails through market crashes, social turmoil, and economic uncertainty, and this year has been no exception.
Here’s a look at the 25 most wealthy families in 2020:
|1||Walton||Walmart||215||Consumer services||🇺🇸 Bentonville, Arkansas|
|2||Mars||Mars||120||Consumer goods||🇺🇸 McLean, Virginia|
|3||Koch||Koch Industries||109.7||Industrials||🇺🇸 Wichita, Kansas|
|4||Al Saud||N/A||95||Industrials||🇸🇦 Riyadh, Saudi Arabia|
|5||Ambani||Reliance Industries||81.3||Industrials||🇮🇳 Mumbai, India|
|6||Hermès||Hermès||63.9||Consumer services||🇫🇷 Paris, France|
|7||Wertheimer||Chanel||54.4||Consumer services||🇫🇷 Paris, France|
|8||Johnson (Fidelity)||Fidelity Investments||46.3||Financials||🇺🇸 Boston, New York|
|9||Boehringer, Von Baumbach||Boehringer Ingelheim||45.7||Health care||🇩🇪 Inglheim, Germany|
|10||Albrecht||Aldi||41||Consumer services||🇩🇪 Rhineland, Germany|
|11||Thomson||Thomson Reuters||40.6||Communication||🇨🇦 Ontario, Canada|
|12||Hoffmann, Oeri||Roche||38.8||Health care||🇨🇭 Basel, Switzerland|
|13||Mulliez||Auchan||38.4||Consumer services||🇫🇷 Lille, France|
|14||Cargill, MacMillan||Cargill||38.1||Industrials||🇺🇸 Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|15||Johnson (SC)||SC Johnson||37.3||Consumer services||🇺🇸 Racine, Wisconsin|
|16||Van Damme, De Spoelberch, De Mevius||Anheuser-Busch InBev||36.8||Consumer goods||🇧🇪 Belgium|
|17||Quandt||BMW||34.7||Consumer services||🇩🇪 Munich, Germany|
|18||Cox||Cox Enterprises||33.1||Communication||🇺🇸 Atlanta, Georgia|
|19||Rausing||Tetra Laval||32.9||Materials||🇬🇧 London, England|
|20||Newhouse||Advance Publications||31||Communication||🇺🇸 New York, New York|
|21||Chearavanont||Charoen Pokphand Group||30.7||Diversified||🇹🇭 Bangkok, Thailand|
|22||Ferrero||Ferrero||30.5||Consumer goods||🇮🇹 Alba, Italy|
|23||Kwok||Sun Hung Kai Properties||30.4||Real estate||🇭🇰 Hong Kong|
|24||Pritzker||Hyatt Hotels||29.6||Consumer services||🇺🇸 Chicago, Illinois|
|25||Lee||Samsung||29||Diversified||🇰🇷 Seoul, South Korea|
*Note: The Al Saud’s net worth is based on cumulative payouts royal family members were estimated to have received over the past 50 years.
The Waltons are the richest family on the list by far, with a net worth of $215 billion—that’s $95 billion more than the second wealthiest family. Sam Walton, the family’s patriarch, founded Walmart in 1962. Since then, it’s become the world’s largest retailer by revenue.
When Sam passed away in 1992, his three children—James, Alice, and Rob—inherited his fortune. Now, the trio co-owns about half of Walmart.
In second place is the Mars family, with a net worth of $120 billion. The family is well-known for their candy empire, but interestingly, about half of the company’s value comes from pet care holdings. Mars Inc. owns several popular pet food brands, including Pedigree, Cesar, and Royal Canin—and it expanded its pet presence further in 2017 when it acquired VCA, a company with almost 800 small animal vet hospitals across the U.S. and Canada.
The Koch family is the world’s third-richest family. Their fortune is rooted in an oil firm founded by Fred C. Koch. Following Fred’s death in 1967, the firm was inherited by his four sons—Frederick, Charles, David, and William. After a family feud, Frederick and William left the business, and Charles and David went on to build the mega industrial conglomerate known as Koch Industries.
Despite being affected by the oil crash this year, the Koch family’s wealth still sits at $109.7 billion. Before David’s passing in 2019, he and his brother Charles were heavily involved in politics—and their political efforts were the subject of much scrutiny.
Richest Families, by Sector
It’s important to note that many of these families have diversified their investments across a variety of industries. For instance, while the Koch family’s wealth is largely concentrated in the industrial sector and commodities, they also dabble in real-estate—in May 2020, they made a $200 million bet on U.S. rental homes.
That being said, it’s interesting to see where each of these families started, and which sectors have bred the highest number of ultra-wealthy families.
Here’s a breakdown of each sector and how many families on the list got started in them:
|Sector||Number of Families||Total Wealth, $B|
The top sector is consumer services—8 of the 25 families are heavily involved in this sector. Walmart helped generate the most wealth out of families in this space, while luxury brands Hermès and Chanel were the source of fortune for the next two wealthiest families.
Industrial is the second largest sector, with 4 of the 25 families involved. It’s also one of the most lucrative sectors—out of the top five wealthiest families on the list, three are in industrials. The Koch family is the wealthiest family in this category, followed by the Al Saud family and the Ambani family, respectively.
Communications and consumer goods are tied for third, with 3 of the 25 families in each. The Thomsons, who founded Thomson Reuters, are the wealthiest family in communications, while the Mars family has the highest net worth in the consumer goods sector.
Resilient, but not Bulletproof
Despite a global recession, most of the world’s wealthiest families seem to be doing just fine—however, not everyone on the list has been thriving this year.
The Koch family’s fortune dropped by $15 billion from 2019 to 2020, and the current political climate in Hong Kong has had a negative impact on the Kwok family’s real estate empire.
While intergenerational wealth certainty has resilience, how much economic and social turmoil can it withstand? It’ll be interesting to see which families make the list in 2021.
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