Bill Gates secures top spot on Forbes list of richest Americans

By Tom Warren, on 21st Sep 11 5:02 pm with 40 Comments

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates

Bill Gates held onto his top spot on Forbes’ latest ranking of the richest individuals in America.

The 55-year old billionaire is worth $59 billion according to Forbes, above his closest competitor Warren Buffett who is worth $39 billion. Both billionaires donate to the Gates Foundation fund to improve the standard of living for those less fortunate around the world. Forbes’ latest list of 400 rich Americans includes a new entry from Sean Parker (ranked 200) who was responsible for the Napster music service and helped build Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook co-founder, has soared into the top 20 at the number 14 spot with a net worth of $17.5 billion.

As the original Microsoft Founder and Chairman, Gates transitioned from full-time work at Microsoft to focus on his philanthropy in June, 2008. Bill Gates founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 1994 with an initial stock gift of $94 million. Now nearly 17 years later, the software genius is working full time as a philanthropist. Gates refused to return full-time to Microsoft earlier this year, claiming that his full-time work for the rest of his life is with his foundation. “I’m part-time involved. But this is my job now,” said Gates during an interview in June.

  • Hassan Ali

    He should be real billionare because he truly serves suffering humanity by donating billions, unlike other billionares except Warren Buffet.

    • Anonymous

      Worry less about what other people do with their money and worry more about what you do with your own money.  Frankly, I’m getting a little tired of hearing people these days trying to figure out how much money other people should be allowed to make and how they should be allowed to spend it.

    • Hassan Ali

      Well I was just lighting his good attitude.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, my comment (more of a political rant) was kind of an overreaction to yours.  Sorry bout that.

    • J A

      Well, I am worried about what Steve is doing with all that money they are amassing from selling useless toys to people. He is not doing any philanthropic work or anything that haelps anyone or humanity. I can literaly picture him laughing at those they pillage from while tucking all that money away under their matresses. Apart from Microsoft’s great products, Gates’ humanitarian efforts are another reason I will rather put my money in Microsoft. He’s a genius because even though he gives billions away yearly he still manages to hold that top spot. See grants they award here;

    • Anonymous

      I’m assuming you are talking about Steve Job and not Steve Balmer since you mentioned selling overpriced toys.  As much as I would love to agree with you since I can’t stand Steve Jobs, I still have to stick by my conviction that what people do with their own money is none of my business.  If someone decides to contribute their money to charity, then that is great, good for them.  But if we try to coerce and shame people into giving their money to charity, then we have defeated the whole purpose of charity.  People should contribute to charity out of their own free will and not because they feel they have to.  Otherwise, we might as well just tax 100% of money from everyone we consider “rich”.  In fact I think charity ought to be a private matter.  I love Bill Gates and all, but parading your contributions in public for everyone to see is just serving your own ego.  I don’t keep a website up devoted to listing all of the donations I make.

    • Diego3336

      I don’t think it’s an ego-booster thing. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett for example are two icons, examples for a lot of people (myself included), so I see this “parading the contributions” thing more like a way to inspire another people to do the same.

    • Anonymous

      I definitely agree.

    • Tuxplorer

      I don’t think people are saying Steve Jobs is a jerk because he doesn’t give money to charity (he IS a jerk for other reasons). The point is Bill Gates is a FAR FAR better human being than Jobs BECAUSE he donates. I hope you understand the difference.

  • Bas Koene

    That guy rocks. He helps the poor and he founded one of the greatest companies ever!

  • Anonymous

    the world needs more Bill Gates.

  • Shareholder

    Congrats Bill. Imagine how much more you would have had to give away if you hadn’t let your frat buddy become CEO. Please don’t come back to MS. You can and are doing a lot more good where you are. And let’s face it, you stopped being useful there something in the late 90′s and had been phoning it in for most of the 2000′s.  But please also resign from the board so that they can finally do the right thing and fire Steve’s ass. Because even if you’ve moved on and no longer care about MS, we do.

    • tdmiller productions

      did that make you happy to troll?

    • Shareholder

      Car to debate the voracity of any of it? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

    • tdmiller productions

      is that a yes? trolling make you happy?

    • Shareholder

      Providing factual statements that you’re obviously incapable of refuting isn’t trolling.

    • tdmiller productions

      so i guess that makes you happy then. cool your for you bro.

    • Shareholder

      Not really. I’m emotionally indifferent about it. However, Bill resigning and Steve getting fired would make me ecstatic and more optimistic about the company’s future, like it probably would the market too. And from the looks of the glassdoor survey and Ballmer’s plummeting approval rating, perhaps employees too.

    • Anonymous

      It amazes me when people like you continue to rip on Bill and Steve.  Yet they built the most successful tech company in history.  You’ll probably say that MS hasn’t innovated on anything since 1995 or 2000 or whatever the hell you people claim.  But I’m enjoying my WP7, Windows 7, Live Apps, SkyDrive, Mesh, XBOX, Kinect, Office 2010, SharePoint, and programming in .NET with VS2010.  Looking forward to Windows 8.  So while MS continues to have record profits under Balmer, you go ahead and keep trolling.  In the end I’m sure you feel your the winner for making snarky comments while Gates and Balmer have to console themselves with their billions of dollars and decades of changing the world.

    • Shareholder

      Bill and even Steve did amazing things up to the late 90′s. Should I refrain from mentioning the relatively poor record since out of some misguided sense of loyalty? The ”most successful tech company in history” is now debatable. Many would now say that’s Apple. But certainly MS is one of the most successful. I wouldn’t say MS hasn’t innovated since 1995 or 2000. I would say there has been a relative dearth of innovation overall, particular when measured against the size of their R&D budget versus competitors. Apple, as an example, has spent roughly 1/10 as much on R&D but somehow parlayed that from near bankruptcy into a company that is now larger in revenue, more profitable, more valuable and growing *seven* times faster than MS, and all within one decade.  They’re now also a dominant force in smartphones and the leader in tablets, two markets that MS helped pioneer and had a decade head start in. Do Steve and Bill deserve praise for that record? I don’t think so. Yes, we’re starting to see some more innovation and better products out of MS lately. Too bad they didn’t do that earlier. Now I’m concerned that it might be too late.

      In order for MS to continue to have record profits under Balmer, which is actually Ballmer, they need profitable growth. Where do you see that coming from with PC growth expected to be low single digits? Xbox? LOL. Skype? LOL. Bing? It’s losing nearly $1 billion a quarter. Azure? Don’t see it. Dynamics? Har har. So where? Hint: It doesn’t exist.

      This isn’t about me. It’s about the company’s future. If you think MS hasn’t been handed its ass by Apple, Google, VMware and others over the last decade, then you just haven’t been paying attention. You’re right that Gates and Ballmer will console themselves with their billions. They’ve already taken billions out of the company and continue to do so. The company could cease business tomorrow and the stock go to $0 and both would still be billionaires. I don’t have a problem with their wealth. They earned it. I have a problem with their lack of accountability for the failures and mistakes that have been the cornerstone of this past decade. And if you care at all about the company, so should you.


    • Michel_anderson

      Microsoft undoubtedly is the most successful company in the world. Even though Apple is the most valuable company at the moment, one can argue that their tenure at the top is most likely unsustainable because you can continue to rule the world with on 3 toys which to me are the same thing in different sizes. The greatness of Microsoft is also linked to their innovations in technology and continued sustenance of other great companies like HP, Dell, IBM, Intel, and a host of million organisations out there unlike the greedy Apple. Let us also be reminded that but for Microsoft intervention in investing $150 milion in Apple in 1997, Apple would have collapsed and died a natural death. Apart from Gates Foundation, MS continue to give generously and invest heavily in the needy in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and some Eastern European Countries. Greatness isnot measured in  what you have but how much influence you bring to bear on others positively.

    • JimmyFal

      Yeah they bailed out Apple and were handsomely “thanked” by several years of MAC vs PC commercials which drove a further stake in between us all. Payback from MS is going to be a bitch. Love the 3 toys comment by they way, that is SO true. By anyone’s measure the Mac OS is a total failure, they BETTER concentrate on the toys.

  • JimmyFal

    When I was a young geek I wrote 3 letters to 3 CEO’s. Texas Instruments Guy, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates. Bill Gates answered, had his secretary call me up on the phone, and sent me a free copy of Office 1.1.

    I never heard from the other two. The rest reflects the story of where my loyalty lies.


    • Matthew Williams

      That was a pretty cool story. Not even being sarcastic.

    • JimmyFal

      I still have a copy of that letter, I think I have the receipt for the Office as well. His secretary told me that they loved my letter and that they had it hanging on the wall. I have this fantasy of Bill still having it framed somewhere in his house, but that would way too cool. As I re read the letter it brings back great memories of the situation I was in at the time, here are the last 3 lines….  


      I still have never made it to college but I feel the best way for me to learn what I
      want to learn is to is to teach myself.

      Thank you very much for listening I appreciate it.

      Good luck with Windows (3.0) and I hope it takes over…


      very sincerely,

                      james fallon

    • J A

      That is inspiring and really shows why MS continues to be at the top.

    • Avatar X

      I also had a very short response (3 lines) from gates way back. Also from Ballmer years later. Very cool.  Your story still beats mine of course. I mean you even got a call and free software.  :O

    • Anonymous

      awwww im jealous. haha i always wanted to write to him but i never really did it. i just admired him.

      you were lucky and no matter what people say about Bill, he will always be a good guy!

      i still want my photo with Bill Gates and now with Steve Ballmer but i didnt even get a stupid visa to go to US.

      oh well cool story! its an amazing memory specially now that Bill isn’t CEO anymore

  • Pedro Roque

    This guy should be an inspiration to us all!

    • Guest

      In some ways yes, in others absolutely not. He’s flawed like everyone else. In fact he’s matured a lot. If you met him in the old days you would have rolled your eyes and thought he was a petulant, arrogant, child.

    • Anonymous

      Funny, Steve Jobs still fits that last description.

    • Anonymous

      he was just bi-winning… nothing wrong with that.

  • Anonymous

    How can Gates still be the richest man around when he keeps giving away so much money?

    • Anonymous

      He is a smart business man.  MS may not even exist today if he hadn’t been in the early days.

    • Guest

      Despite his constant selling, he still owns more than 5% of MS. Plus billions he’s taken out of MS which have been invested elsewhere through his Cascadia Investment company, which is run by very smart talent. Also, the charity wasn’t funded all at once. Neither does it pay out more than around 5% in any year.  

  • Frylockns86

    Hold up, I want to save for another yacht……………………………….. Done!

    - Billy G.

    • Rahul Mulchandani

      Haha! Nice :D

  • Anonymous

    Bill Gates, since im a kid i have liked him!
    thats how i hate people talking crap about him, like if money made him worse and no having so much money better person to these people who critize him.

    he is Smart and amazing, even though he wont be in Microsoft anymore, and now Steve Ballmer who i like too is CEO. well at last Gates is doing what he wants, and thats better to what some of these people who critize him do. and i dont mean money, even if people give $100 is amazing even $1.  but some people dont even help someone with $1 but they critize a person like bill gates who help with his foundation.

  • Martyn Lee

    Weird how things change, before the foundation Bill Gates was seen as a very evil man.

    Now, completely the opposite.

    Business brings out the worst, charity brings out the best I guess.

  • Tonious

    Bill Gates for Nobel Peace Prize, period!
    I was flabagasted when Obama hailed Steve Jobs, during his own Nobel Peace Prize speech.
    Bill gates should be vindicated with a Nobel Prize of his own.
    Thankyou Bill!