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10 People Who Made the Most Money in 2020

9 December 2020

2020 May Have Been a Terrible Year for Most of Us, but Definitely Not for These 10 Billionaires. 

Aluxers, you don’t need us to tell you that 2020 has been tough — really tough — on all of us. Well, maybe not quite all of us. Because there are a lucky few people who probably don’t see it the same way. If the money in your bank went up by a ten or even eleven-figure sum, you’re not going to see 2020 in quite the same light. 

Yep. We’re talking about those billionaires who’ve increased their money this year — by sums that are larger than the GDP of small countries. Come to think of it, even a few medium-sized countries. 

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If you’re a huge fan of the entrepreneurs who have hit big, you might as well see their faces. Here’s the video version of this article.

Let’s get straight to it and find out who makes the list. 

10

Sergey Brin +$21.9 Billion ($53.5 Billion — $75.4 Billion)

Some stocks have done terribly this year. But with people around the world spending more time online than ever, tech giants can’t complain about that. Which is why it’s no surprise to see the founders of Google on this list. First up, Google’s Russian-born co-founder, Sergey Brin.

He may have stepped down as president of Alphabet Inc. — that’s Google’s parent company — at the end of 2019. But he’s still a controlling shareholder and a board member. 

Other projects he’s involved in include a high-tech airship, which aims to be the biggest aircraft in the world. Although it’s shrouded in mystery, reports tell us it will serve as a luxury intercontinental yacht. And deliver supplies and food to remote locations on humanitarian missions.

9

Larry Page +$22 Billion ($55.5 Billion — $77.5 Billion)

Just ahead of Sergey Brin is the other half of Google’s founding team — Larry Page. The two met at Stanford while they were doing a degree in computer science. And as you can see, they’re pretty much inseparable — that includes their rankings in this list. 

Larry does get in just above Sergey, it’s by the tiny margin of 0.1 billion dollars. Ok that’s a hundred million dollars, maybe not so tiny after all.  

Formerly the CEO of Alphabet, he also stepped down from the role in December 2019. But kept his position as a board member, and his shares in the tech giant. Which explains his huge gains this year. 

As well as Alphabet, just like any self-respecting multi-billionaire, he’s also a founding investor in space exploration company, Planetary Resources — which aims to mine resources from asteroids and other planetary bodies. 

And that’s not the only science fiction-style project he’s getting involved in. He’s funding not one, but two startups that are building flying cars, Kitty Hawk and Opener. And he’s the 8th richest person in the world. 

Ever wondered what all of this money goes into? Check out Google’s New Offices in Amsterdam

8

Steve Ballmer +$23.9 Billion ($51.7 Billion — $75.6 Billion) 

Next up is the ninth richest person in the world, Steve Ballmer — Former CEO of Microsoft. He was one of the company’s first thirty employees, and he took over the CEO position from Bill Gates.  He left in 2014, and now focuses his energy on running the basketball team, the LA Clippers – which he bought in 2014 for 2billion. That was the second highest price paid for a sports franchise in US history. 

He’s still a big shareholder in Microsoft, owning about 4% of the company. In fact, that makes him the company’s biggest shareholder — yes, even ahead of Bill Gates, who sold a large amount of his shares. 

And like Bill Gates, he’s also big on philanthropy. He’s put over $2 billion into a fund with the aim of lifting Americans out of poverty, focusing on education and racial equality. 

7

Jack Ma +$26.3 Billion ($38.8 Billion – $65.1 Billion)

He’s the co-founder of one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses. Although he’s recently stepped down as Alibaba’s executive chairman — yep, that seems to be a theme here — and he’s no longer the biggest shareholder. But he still has a major stake in Alibaba. And his investments also include Chinese media and entertainment company Huayi (hwaa – yee) Brothers.

Back in 2015, Alibaba’s IPO in New York set the record as the world’s biggest public stock offering, when it raised a ton of money, we’re talking about $25 billion. Jack was aiming to beat that this year with the IPO of Ant Group, an Alibaba affiliate and the world’s highest valued fintech. But that was put to a halt when Chinese regulators suspended Ant Group’s listings on the Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges, due to financial irregularities. 

That  meant that Ma lost $3billion in net worth overnight. Needless to say, if that hadn’t happened, he’d be even higher on this list. 

6

Mackenzie Scott +$26.6 Billion ($36.1 Billion — $62.7 Billion)

If you don’t know who she is, her previous name should clear that up — formerly Mackenzie Bezos. Though changed her name after she divorced Jeff in mid 2019. Part of the divorce settlement was that she got 25% of his stake in Amazon — that’s 4% of the company. And the fact that Amazon stock has gone up this year, places her comfortably on the list.

Since getting the divorce settlement, Mackenzie’s been active with a number of charitable causes. She’s signed the Giving Pledge, which was started by Bill and Melinda Gates. And in July this year, she simultaneously announced that she’s changing her name from Bezos to Scott, and that she’d donated $1.7 billion to over 100 non-profit groups. 

Outside of being a billionaire shareholder in Amazon, she’s also a published novelist, and founded an anti-bullying organization, the Bystander Revolution.

5

Mark Zuckerberg +$38.1 Billion ($69.6 Billion — $107.7 Billion)

Yep. He made the news back in August when he joined the ranks of the world’s centi-billionaires. In case you don’t know how much money you need to be one, it’s over a hundred billion dollars. It’s not enough to put him at the top of this list. But it does place him at an impressive number five.  

It’s not exactly as if people didn’t use Facebook that much before lockdown. But under lockdown, its use has gone through the roof. And it’s sent Facebook stock in the same direction — up more than 50% over the year. And Mark Zuckerberg owns 15% of it. 

Let’s keep in mind that in 2020 Facebook has had its fair share of controversy. In June over 1000 advertisers boycotted Facebook because it wasn’t doing enough to police hate speech. And we can expect this to be a big ongoing topic into 2021.

Still, none of this has stopped Zuck’s rise up the ranks of billionaires. But it looks like he doesn’t plan on being on this list forever. Along with his wife, Priscilla Chan, they’ve pledged to give away 99% of their Facebook stock over their lifetimes. 

And he’s the only person on this list who is under 40 years old.

4

Daniel Gilbert +$38.3 Billion ($6.5 Billion — $44.8 Billion) 

Neck and neck with Mark Zuckerberg in net worth gains, but just above him, is a name  that’s not quite as familiar — Daniel Gilbert. That’s thanks to his net worth going up nearly seven times this year. 

Gilbert’s wealth comes from being the co-founder of Quicken Loans, the USA’s largest mortgage lender. In August this year, the company went public, with a valuation of $36 billion. And when that happened, its stock price shot up. 

At the same time as it went public, it also changed its name to Rocket Companies. And Daniel Gilbert is the CEO and controlling Shareholder.

As well as being in the money-lending business, he owns NBA team the Cleveland Cavaliers.  And he co-founded a sneaker sale platform StockX, which is valued at over $1 billion. 

And he has big plans to develop his hometown of Detroit. That includes the $5.6 billion he’s invested in a large area of downtown Detroit, which should create 24 000 jobs. And he aims to bring major league soccer to the city.

3

Mukesh Ambani +$41.2 Billion ($36.8 Billion — $78 Billion)

Aluxers from India will be very familiar with him. But for those of you who don’t know the name — he started the year as the person with the most money in India. And since then he’s more than doubled his net worth.

Mukesh Ambani is the chair of Reliance Industries.  A company that started out from humble beginnings, back in 1966. That’s when Mukesh’s father, Dhirubhai (dee-roo-bye), set it up, as a textile manufacturing company. But it’s grown quite a bit since then. It’s now worth 88 billion dollars and has interests in petrochemicals, oil, gas, telecoms and retail. 

This year, Ambani raised more than $20 billion when he sold a third of Jio — Reliance’s Telecoms business — to a number of investors, including Facebook and Google.

2

Elon Musk +$74.9 Billion ($19.9 Billion — $94.8 Billion) 

Of course, Elon had to be pretty high up. And because his fortunes more than tripled this year, he takes the second spot on this list. 

That’s thanks to Tesla’s stock going up dramatically — and he owns 21% of it. And thanks to him getting two huge pay-offs in Tesla stock as part of his CEO pay package. He broke the 100 billion dollar mark late in August, just two months after Tesla overtook Toyota as the world’s most valuable carmaker. 

With share prices always fluctuating, he’s since slipped off the list of centi-billionaires. But we don’t think he’ll be that bothered by it. When asked by Forbes how he felt about being one of the world’s few people worth a twelve-figure sum, he replied ‘I really couldn’t care less. These numbers rise and fall, but what really matters is making great products that people love.’ 

And let’s remember that his portfolio also includes SpaceX — which is valued at close to $36 billion. All of which means he’s now the 7th wealthiest individual on the planet.

So, have you figured out who gets the top spot for making the most money in 2020?

1

Jeff Bezos +$79.4 Billion  ($114 Billion — $193.4 Billion)

Yep, who else could it have been? In 2020, we’ve relied on Amazon more and more buying stuff in lockdown. Which has made it one of the year’s big success stories. And that puts Jeff right at the top of this list. 

All told, Amazon’s stock price roughly doubled over the year. And Jeff Bezos isn’t just the richest person in the world — he’s also the person with the most amount of money in history. Even after having to give a large chunk of his fortune away to his ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott, in their divorce settlement. And despite it being a controversial year for Amazon, with questions raised about treatment of workers, warehouse conditions, and antitrust cases. 

As well as Amazon, he also owns the Washington Post and Blue Origin, an aerospace company that develops rockets for commercial use. 

Question

Who do you think will be top of the money-making list next year?