Bloomberg Billionaires Index

View profiles for each of the world’s 500 richest people, see the biggest movers, and compare fortunes or track returns.

#1 Bill Gates $89.4B

Random fact: Told Reddit in 2014 that he washes his own dishes every night.

Overview

Gates co-founded Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker, and owns about 2 percent of the Redmond, Washington-based company. The rest of his fortune is managed through closely held Cascade Investment, which controls stakes in dozens of publicly traded companies, including Canadian National Railway, Deere and Ecolab.

As of June 25, 2017:
Last change +$271M (+0.3%)
YTD change +$7.00B (+8.5%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset Cash
Citizenship United States
Age 61
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Bill Gates's net worth of $89.4B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
0%
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
0%
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
0%
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
0%
of U.S. existing home sales
0
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Gates's fortune is derived from Cascade Investment, a holding company that was created with the proceeds of Microsoft stock sales and dividends. Since the software maker's initial public offering in 1986, the billionaire has sold about $40 billion in stock and collected more than $10 billion in dividends, including a $3.3 billion payout in 2004, which he donated to his philanthropic foundation. 

The value of Gates's cash investments was linked primarily to the performance of the S&P 500 Index until January 2017. Because details of direct holdings in U.S. equities are reported by Cascade, the balance of his investments was spread across a more diverse asset allocation, in line with the approach used in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index valuation methodology. The change resulted in a $9 billion net worth drop on Jan. 27, 2017.

He retains about 2 percent of Microsoft, according to a May 2017 Form 4 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Shares held by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a charitable enterprise that supports poverty eradication, medical research and education initiatives, aren't included in his net worth calculation.

Cascade owns stakes in dozens of public companies, including AutoNation and Canadian National Railway. It also invests in closely held businesses, including real estate (Four Seasons Hotels) and energy (Sapphire Energy).

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Gates, said he declined to comment on his net worth.

Biography

Birthdate: 10/28/1955
Family: Married, 3 children
Education: 1973-1975, President & Fellows of Harvard College

Born to successful parents -- his father was a lawyer, his mother was president of the local United Way -- Gates developed an interest in computers shortly after his admittance to Seattle's Lakeside School.

After scoring a 1590 on his SATs (out of a possible 1600), he enrolled at Harvard University, where his Lakeside friend, Paul Allen, persuaded him to take a leave of absence to help him build an operating system for the Altair 8800, a new computer developed by Micro Instrumentation & Telemetry Systems. The result: Microsoft, now the world's largest software maker by revenue.

In 1994, Gates married Melinda French, a Microsoft employee whom he had met seven years earlier at a press event in New York. Six years later, after his Microsoft stake topped $100 billion, Gates stepped down as the company's chief executive and began focusing on philanthropic efforts. To date, he has donated more than $30 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which so far has given away $36.7 billion in grants to fight hunger, disease and poverty. He intends to give the majority of his wealth to charity, a commitment he reaffirmed by signing the Giving Pledge in 2010. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in November 2016.

Milestones
  • 1955 William Henry Gates III is born in Seattle.
  • 1975 Gates and Allen register the name Microsoft.
  • 1981 Incorporates Microsoft in the state of Washington.
  • 1985 Software maker releases the first consumer version of Windows.
  • 1986 Microsoft completes IPO, one day after Oracle's public offering.
  • 2000 Steps down as Microsoft chief executive officer.
  • 2000 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is established.
  • 2003 Microsoft pays its first dividend.