Gates Beats Ellison in Daily Ranking of Tech Billionaires

Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), the world’s largest software company, is technology’s richest man.

The chairman of Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft, was worth $61.3 billion as of the close of U.S. trading yesterday, down $805.4 million for the day, according to a daily ranking of the industry’s wealthiest titans compiled by Bloomberg News. Oracle Corp. (ORCL)’s Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg, who runs Facebook Inc. (FB), ranked second and third, respectively.

The ranking, published on Bloomberg.com, reflects how changes in markets and the economy affect the executives’ stakes in publicly traded and closely held companies. Co-founded by Gates in 1975, Microsoft’s wares run more than 90 percent of the world’s personal computers. Ellison helped build Oracle into the No. 3 software maker, while Zuckerberg fashioned the most popular social network in less than a decade.

“These people are our royalty, because we don’t have royalty,” said Paul MacManus, managing director of the Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization at Boston University (43751MF) School of Management. “Who better to aspire to?”

Each net worth figure is updated every business day at 5:30 p.m. in New York. The valuations are listed in U.S. dollars.

Gates’s fortune has increased 9.2 percent this year, according to the ranking. About 77 percent of his fortune is held in Cascade Investment LLC, his personal holding company. A spokesman for Gates didn’t immediately return call for comment.

Japanese Architecture

Ellison, 67, is co-founder of Redwood City, California- based Oracle, the top maker of database software. He is worth $37.9 billion, down $385.7 million on March 6 and up 15 percent since the beginning of the year.

An America’s Cup-winning yachtsman known for an extravagant lifestyle, Ellison has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on real estate, including a home in Woodside, California, modeled on 16th century Japanese feudal architecture.

Zuckerberg, the 27-year-old co-founder of Facebook, is worth at least $21 billion. Still, based on the roughly $100 billion valuation that the Menlo Park, California-based company has fetched in private markets, Zuckerberg’s stake may be worth about 25 percent less than previous estimates, once Facebook holds its initial public offering.

The company intends to issue about 500 million shares of its Class B stock at the offering, diluting Zuckerberg’s ownership to 21 percent after he exercises 120 million options and sells about 42 million shares to cover the tax bill associated with the gain from those options.

The combined net worth of technology’s 10 richest people is $238.3 billion. Ninety percent of the list hails from the U.S.

Google Drops

No. 4 and 5 are Sergey Brin and Larry Page. The co-founders of Google Inc. (GOOG), which controls 66 percent of the U.S. Web-search market, are each worth $18.7 billion. About 84 percent of their fortunes are held in Google shares, which have declined 6.3 percent this year. The pair lost a total $560.6 million yesterday as Google slipped 1.5 percent.

The only person on the ranking not from the U.S. is Indian Azim Premji, co-founder of Bangalore-based Wipro Ltd. (WPRO), India’s third-largest software exporter.

Premji’s 79 percent stake of Wipro represents about 90 percent of his $18.5 billion net worth. Premji guided his father’s peanut-oil processing company into software when the Indian government ejected foreign corporations from the country in 1977. While Premji initially benefited from the long-revoked India-first policy, Wipro today derives most of its sales from the U.S. and Europe.

Education Foundation

In December 2010, the 66-year-old transferred stock then worth $2 billion to a foundation that supports education for the poor. He told Bloomberg News in January that income inequality should be a topic of conversation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“We have seen in 2011 what ignoring this aspect can result in,” Premji said in an e-mail at the time. “If we don’t take cognizance of it and try to solve this problem, it can create a chaotic upheaval globally.”

Ranking seventh is Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), the world’s largest online retailer. Bezos, 48, is worth $17.2 billion, up $73 million yesterday. His fortune has grown 4.7 percent this year.

Bezos owns 88 million shares, or 19.3 percent, of Amazon’s outstanding shares. He also owns space exploration company Blue Origin, and has more than $1 billion in cash and other investable assets, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Ballmer, Dell, Allen

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer ranks eighth, with a net worth of $15.3 billion. About two-thirds of his fortune is held in the company he was recruited by Bill Gates to join in the early 1980s. Over his tenure with the company, he has earned $3.4 billion in stock sales, before taxes.

After building and selling computers from his dorm room in college, Michael Dell has amassed a net worth of $14.9 billion through Dell Inc. (DELL), the world’s third-largest personal-computer maker. Dell, who ranks 9th, owns 15.2 percent of the company. Dell shares closed down 1.8 percent yesterday.

About two thirds of Dell’s fortune is invested through MSD Capital LP, his personal investment company, which owns stakes in Domino’s Pizza Inc., Asbury Automotive Group Inc. and Blueknight Energy Partners LP. (BKEP) Dell’s fortune fell $193 million yesterday, though it’s up 1.3 percent this year.

Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Gates, ranked 10th, with a net worth of $14.8 billion. Most of the technology investor’s fortune is held in a mix of private-equity, hedge- fund and real-estate investments, plus sports franchises and space-tourism ventures. He is Amazon’s landlord in Seattle, and owns an estimated 1.3 percent stake in Microsoft.

His latest investment is a 25 percent stake in Audience Inc. (ADNC), the maker of the integrated chip that powers the Apple iPhone’s Siri voice command system. Audience is expected to sell shares to the public soon.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Coffey in Boston at bcoffey10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net; Matthew G. Miller at mmiller144@bloomberg.net

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