Last updated: June 12, 2018
Where in the World Are Top Tech Billionaires From?
Picture a successful billionaire tech entrepreneur. What kind of person do you imagine?
Maybe you’re imagining someone who looks like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. A middle-aged man, probably brilliant, creative, and driven.
In most cases, you’d be spot-on. Successful entrepreneurs do seem to share a lot of the same key traits that led them to success. They’re passionate people who believe wholeheartedly in what they’re doing. They’re creative visionaries, able to see the big picture and invent solutions to a problem. They’re driven and hard-working, refusing to let the inevitable setbacks discourage them from pursuing their vision.
Even scientific research supports the archetype. The Kauffman Foundation found that over 90% of successful entrepreneurs were well-educated and came from stable middle- or upper-class families. Over two-thirds were married, and more than 60% had at least one child. Another study by Professor Ross Levine of the Haas Economic Analysis and Policy Group found that successful entrepreneurs tend to come from stable families, and evince high IQs and higher-than-average confidence and self-esteem.
Given the evidence, you might expect all successful entrepreneurs to be very similar in background. Most people are familiar with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, but their fame doesn’t mean they represent every tech entrepreneur. When you broaden the view to include successful founders who may not be as well known, the diversity is surprising.
The United States definitely isn’t the only country supplying the world with disruptive new technology. Many countries around the world are coming up with new advanced technology, from Japan, South Korea, and India, to Finland and Germany. When you take a look at the broader view, you’re bound to get a more diverse picture.
From the creator of eBay, to the co-founder of Google, some of these tech billionaires don’t match up to the typical mental picture of a tech entrepreneur most of us have. Below are some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs from around the world, a look at their diverse backgrounds, and all the different places their successes have taken them.
Where In The World Are Top Tech Billionaires From?
The tech world is full of smart entrepreneurs, more than just the familiar names of Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs. Many tech billionaires have found their way to the Silicon Valley. But where did they come from?
- Ma Huateng, a.k.a. Pony Ma
- “The industry is on the rise and its beauty lies in its uncertainty, but we are passionate and interested in exploring the unknown.”
- Net Worth: $14.4 billion
- Industry: Software and technology
- Citizen of China
- Lives in Shenzhen, China
- Born in 1971
- Co-Founder and CEO of Tencent Holdings
- In 1993, he earned a BS in computer science at Shenzhen University.
- He worked for China Motion Telecom Development Limited.
- He co-founded Tencent in 1998.
- Tencent is one of China’s largest ISPs offering communications, social networking, games, and e-commerce portals.
- He is one of China’s most successful domestically-educated CEOs.
- Time magazine named him one of the world’s most influential people in 2007.
- In January 2014, he became China’s wealthiest man, but was bumped down to 2nd in March.
- His nickname “Pony” is from the English translation of his surname meaning “horse.”
- Robin Li
- “Being able to speak the language of Silicon Valley to venture capitalists is very important.”
- Net Worth: $13.7 billion
- Industry: Internet search engine
- Citizen of China
- Lives in Beijing, China
- Born in 1969
- Married with four children
- Co-Founder and CEO of Baidu
- In 1991, he earned a BS in information management from Peking University, and in 1994 he finished his MSc in computer science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
- In 1997, Li patented his search-engine algorithm.
- On the first day of 2000, he co-founded Baidu in China’s version of Silicon Valley.
- In 1998, he published his book Silicon Valley Business War based on his experience living and working in Silicon Valley as a young man.
- By 2007, CNN named him one of the 50 of the world’s most important people.
- In 2010, Time named him one of the world’s most influential people.
- In December 2013, he became the richest man in China.
- Azim Premji
- “People are the key to success or extraordinary success.”
- Net Worth: $15.3 billion
- Industry: Software
- Citizen of India
- Lives in Bangalore, India
- Born in 1946
- Married with two children.
- Founder, Chairman, and Managing Director of Wipro.
- He earned a BS from Stanford University in electrical engineering in 1960.
- He founded Wipro, an IT services company, in 1945 and has been the Executive Chairman and Managing Director since 1968.
- He also founded PremjiInvest in 2006, a firm that funds startup companies from a pool of $1 billion.
- He was named one of Business Week’s greatest entrepreneurs as he led Wipro to become one of the fastest growing companies in the world.
- The Indian government awarded him the Padma Vibhushan in 2011, one of the highest awards given to a civilian.
- Shiv Nadar
- Net Worth: $11.6 billion
- Industry: Information technology
- Citizen of India
- Lives in New Delhi, India
- Born in 1945
- Married with 1 child
- Co-Founder of Hindustan Computers Limited and founder of the Shiv Nadar Foundation.
- He earned an electrical and electronics engineering degree from the PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore.
- He earned an honorary doctorate from Madras University in 2007 for work in software technology.
- When IBM left India, he saw the gap in the market and founded HCL, whose first computer was produced in 1982.
- Also an avid philanthropist, he is a huge supporter of education and public welfare.
- He has set up new schools and scholarship funds through his foundation.
- He also set up the SSN College of Engineering.
- He became a member of the executive board of the Indian School of Business.
- He has served on the governing board of the Public Health Foundation.
- The Indian government awarded him with the Padma Bhushan in 2008, one of the highest awards for civilians.
- He is nicknamed “magus”, meaning “wizard” in Old Persian.
- Pierre Omidyar
- “Give the individual the power to be a producer as well as a consumer.”
- Net Worth: $7.7 billion
- Industry: Online auction
- Citizen of the United States, of Iranian descent born in France.
- His family moved to Maryland for his father’s medical residency at Johns Hopkins.
- Lives in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Born in 1967
- Married with three children.
- Founder of eBay and First Look Media.
- He wrote his first computer program at the age of 14.
- He earned a BS in computer science from Tufts University in 1988.
- He worked for Apple before founding eBay in 1995.
- After writing the code for Auction Web as a side project, it became so popular he had to separate it from his personal website and create its own auction site renamed eBay.
- The first item he sold was a broken laser pointer.
- He became a billionaire overnight when eBay stock went public and the price almost tripled on its first day.
- He serves on the board of trustees for Tufts and the Santa Fe Institute.
- He and his wife endowed the Omidyar-Tufts Microfinance Fund with $100 million in 2005, the largest gift Tufts had received at that point.
- He joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet by pledging at least half of his wealth to philanthropy through The Giving Pledge.
- Hasso Plattner
- “From my earliest days developing business software, I have always believed that design has to start with the user,… Businesses around the globe need to look for innovation by focusing on their customers.”
- Net Worth: $8.7 billion
- Industry: Software
- Citizen of Germany
- Lives in Heidelberg, Germany.
- Born in 1944
- Married with two children.
- Co-Founder of SAP AG (Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing).
- He earned his master’s degree in communications engineering from the University of Karlsruhe in 1968.
- He worked as a consultant for IBM Deutschland before leaving to found SAP.
- With four others, he founded SAP in 1972.
- He earned an honorary doctorate from the University of Saarbrucken in 1990 and was named an honorary business information technology professor.
- The University of Potsdam gave him an honorary doctorate in 2002 and an honorary professor position in 2004.
- In 1998he founded the Hasso Plattner Institute for IT Systems Engineering where he also teaches and supervises PhD candidates.
- He is on the board of trustees at Stanford University, where he also funded the establishment of a branch of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design Thinking.
- Plattner also funds two foundations.
- The Hasso Plattner Foundation for Software Systems Engineering funds and owns the HPI of Software Systems Engineering GmbH.
- The Hasso Plattner Förderstiftung gGmbH has funded medical research and healthcare education in Africa.
- He announced his intentions to establish an art gallery in Potsdam to display his personal collection of East German artists.
- The gallery should be open in 2016.
- He was named a hero of the last 60 years by Time magazine in 2006.
- He is still the chairman of the supervisory board at SAP.
- He was awarded the Global Benefactor Award by the US-based Churchill Club in 2012.
- Sergey Brin
- “To me, this is about preserving history and making it available to everyone.”
- Net Worth: $31.3 billion
- Industry: Internet search engine
- Citizen of the United States, born in Russia
- His family fled Jewish persecution in the late 1970s.
- Lives in Los Altos, California.
- Born in 1973
- Separated with two children.
- With fellow Stanford student Larry Page, he co-founded Google in 1998.
- He earned his bachelor’s degree in math and computer science from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree from Stanford.
- He worked on a doctorate in computer science at Stanford before dropping out to found Google.
- At first, Brin and Page ran the search engine out of their dorms, with Page’s room as the data center and the business office in Brin’s.
- Economist magazine nicknamed him “Enlightenment Man” due to his commitment to knowledge and its accessibility.
- In 2007, he served as an executive producer for the movie Broken Arrows.
- He invested $4.5 million into Space Adventures, a U.S. space tourism company, securing his own ticket to space in the future.
- His foundation with his wife, the Brin Wojcicki Foundation, was number 25 out of 50 of the top philanthropists named by The Chronicles of Philanthropy in 2011, as well as number five in the top charitable organizations in 2012.
Note: This is just a glimpse into a handful of tech billionaires around the globe.
With a variety of backgrounds and a strong sense of business and creativity, today’s tech billionaires have both set the groundwork for now ubiquitous technologies and are leading the digital revolution forward. Who will be the next rising tech superstar?
- Ma Huateng – forbes.com
- Pony Ma – worldofceos.com
- Quotes from Pony Ma Huateng – bjreview.com.cn
- 10 Richest Internet Entrepreneurs #6 – uncoverdiscover.com
- Pony Ma Biography – notablebiographies.com
- Robin Li – forbes.com
- Robin Li Passes Wang Jianlin as China’s Wealthiest Man – bloomberg.com
- Robin Li Quotes – successories.com
- Robin Li – 4-traders.com
- Baidu Inc – Spon Adr (BIDU:NASDAQ GS) – investing.businessweek.com
- Azim Premji – forbes.com
- Wipro Ltd-Adr (WIT:New York) – investing.businessweek.com
- About WiPro – wipro.com
- Top 10 Quotes By Wipro Chairman Azim Hashim Premji – indiatvnews.com
- Shiv Nadar – forbes.com
- Shiv Nadar – famous-entrepreneurs.com
- Pierre Omidyar – forbes.com
- Pierre Omidyar Biography – biography.com
- Pierre Omidyar Quotes – thinkexist.com
- Hasso Plattner – forbes.com
- Hasso Plattner, SAP’s Software Pioneer Still Sailing On – ft.com
- Stifter Hasso Plattner – hpi.de
- Hasso Plattner Quotes – successories.com
- Sergey Brin – forbes.com
- Sergey Brin Biography – biography.com
- Sergey Brin – infoplease.com
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin Biography – notablebiographies.com
- 20 Fascinating Facts About Sergey Brin, Co-founder Of Google – celebrityfunfacts.com
- Sergey Brin Quotes – thinkexist.com