The 14 youngest billionaires on The Forbes 400 are a rarefied group, making up just 3.5% of list. Nine of these 14 folks under 40 are tech entrepreneurs; the rest inherited their fortunes. After two years of expanding ranks in the under-40 set, the number of young billionaires on The Forbes 400 dropped by three this year (more on that below). Half of the group lives in California, and together these young billionaires are worth a combined $113.7 billion.
The youngest member of The Forbes 400 for the second year in a row is 26-year-old Snap Inc. (formerly Snapchat) CEO Evan Spiegel, who is one of just two Forbes 400 members under the age of 30. (The other is his cofounder Bobby Murphy, who is 28.) In May 2016, Snapchat completed a $1.8 billion funding round, valuing the mobile messaging startup at $18 billion. On September 23, Spiegel announced that Snapchat would be rebranding as Snap Inc, to signal its move beyond social media into hardware. The company released a pair of $130 video-recording sunglasses, a hipper version of the unsuccessful Google Glass.
The richest member of the under-40′s on The Forbes 400 is also the 4th richest person in the country: 32-year-old Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. With a fortune of $55.5 billion, he’s worth almost half of the young crowd’s combined $113.7 billion. Zuckerberg debuted on The Forbes 400 in 2008 as the list’s youngest member with a $1.5 billion fortune. Since then, his social media giant has gone public, weathered a rocky post-IPO period and seen its stock rise more than 230% as the company became a global social media powerhouse. Zuckerberg is now starting to make a name for himself as a philanthropist, mentored by one of the oldest and most influential billionaires on The Forbes 400, Bill Gates. In December 2015, Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares to “advance human potential” over their lifetime and created the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as a vehicle for those gifts. In September 2016, Zuckerberg announced that he would be giving $3 billion by the end of the decade with the ambitious goal of curing or managing all disease by the end of the century.
Two other young billionaires are members of The Forbes 400 because of Facebook’s rise: Dustin Moskovitz, who cofounded Facebook with Zuckerberg and is just eight days younger than him, and Napster cofounder Sean Parker, 36, who was an early Facebook investor and briefly president of the company.
The founders of Airbnb and Ubiquiti Networks round out the self-made under 40 crowd. Airbnb cofounders Brian Chesky, 35, Joe Gebbia, 35, and Nathan Blecharczyk, 33, made their first appearance on The Forbes 400 last year. The home and room rental startup they cofounded in Chesky’s apartment is now the second biggest unicorn in the United States with a $30 billion valuation. Ubiquiti Networks founder Robert Pera, 38, got his start at Apple in 2003 but struck out on his own two years later. In 2011, he became a billionaire following the IPO of his wireless-products maker, which now has a $4.4 billion market capitalization.
The only newcomer under the age of 40 on this year’s Forbes 400 is Walmart heir Lukas Walton. When his father, Walmart heir John Walton, died in 2005, Lukas inherited a third of his father’s estate, which included stakes in Walmart and First Solar. His mother Christy Walton received one-sixth of the estate and the rest went to charity. FORBES used to list both of their fortunes together under Christy Walton & family but new documents uncovered in the past year confirmed the size of Lukas Walton’s individual stake. He’s now listed alone on The Forbes 400 for the first time. Lukas Walton studied environmental science and economics at Colorado College and graduated in 2010. As a young child, he was diagnosed with cancer, and his mother reportedly credits his cure to an all-organic diet. Walton doesn’t work for the family company; he is reportedly an active investor and philanthropist.
There were no women under 40 on this year’s Forbes 400. Women make up 14% of the list overall (that’s including 7 women who cofounded companies with their husbands and are listed as such). The youngest self-made woman on The Forbes 400 is HP Enterprises CEO Meg Whitman, who is 60 years old. Last year, the only woman under 40 on the list was Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. In June 2016, Forbes knocked her net worth down to zero from $4.5 billion because of issues at her blood testing startup, which has been embroiled in controversy.
Looking back over time, the number of under-40 FORBES 400 members peaked during the dot com bubble, with 23 appearing on the 2000 list. In 2015, the number of under-40s reached its highest point since the dot-com bubble (17 members), a trend that might have been expected to continue in 2016. Instead, that number dropped for a few reasons: two members (Whatsapp cofounder Jan Koum and Uber founder Travis Kalanick) turned 40, and two dropped off The Forbes 400 (Holmes and Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey). A dearth of tech IPOs and a cooling of unicorn valuations meant that young billionaires like Pinterest’s Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, Dropbox’s Drew Houston and Tanium’s Orion Hindawi didn’t make the $1.7 billion minimum for The Forbes 400 this year.
Mark Zuckerberg, 32
Lukas Walton, 30
Dustin Moskovitz, 32
Scott Duncan, 33
Andres Santo Domingo, 38
Alejandro Santo Domingo, 39
Nathan Blecharczyk, 33
Brian Chesky, 35
Joe Gebbia, 35
Robert Pera, 38
Julio Mario Santo Domingo III, 31
Sean Parker, 36
Evan SpiegeL, 26
Bobby Murphy, 28
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