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Arindam Chaudhuri, Editor-in-Chief, 4Ps B&M Chief Consulting Editor's Desk
Rajita Chaudhuri
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Of the nouveau billionaires on the block, the ones causing maximum disruption are those running technology firms

Anybody can be a Billionaire

The annual list of the world’s billionaires is out. There are 1,810 billionaires in the world today (down from 1,826 last year). However, what’s interesting is that approximately 65% of these are self-made billionaires. Billionaires of today are not necessarily those born with a silver spoon; rather, today, like never before, the world is seeing the birth of billionaires who have started from ground zero and made it to the top.

Out of the whole list of billionaires, 198 are new to the list; and of these newcomers, a large portion has come from the fields of manufacturing, real estate and technology. Out of these three fields, the one that’s causing the largest disruption is the field of technology. Take a look at the newcomers on this list and you will see that most of them are heading companies that are rich in technology and not physical assets. The newcomers are Pinterest cofounders Evan Sharp and Ben Silberman, Flipkart cofounders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, WeWork cofounders Adam Neumann and Miguel McKelvey etc. In fact, look at the guys at the top: Bill Gates has been at the top for 17 years out of 22 years, Jeff Bezos has moved up from the 15th to the 5th spot, Mark Zuckerberg has moved up to the 6th spot. This just goes on to prove that technology will be the game-changer of the future.

Technology has a lot to contribute towards making the world really flat. While America used to be the hub of a large number of billionaires with New York boasting of the largest number of billionaires in the world, things are changing. While at 79, New York still has the largest number of billionaires, Hong Kong is fast closing in with 68 billionaires. Interestingly, out of the top 10 cities with the largest number of billionaires, 6 cities were from Asia this year and New York was the only American city in the top 10. Most of the billionaires of the world are today from the Asia-Pacific region and not from the United States.

Add to this the fact that out of the newcomers to this list, the maximum were from China. So while earlier it was oil, minerals, real estate, which were responsible for creating billionaires, today technology is making billionaires faster than ever before.

Huge developments in technology are also key reasons that more and more of the young guys are challenging the biggies in the business and disrupting things like never before. The Internet has opened the doors and given access to knowledge, finance, people etc to an extent like never before. Look at the new and hippest brands of today – Airbnb, Snapchat, Uber, Flipkart, Dropbox, Snapdeal, Ola Cabs, InMobi, Zomato – they all have young guys at the helm of affairs taking on the world armed with just a powerful idea. All these companies mentioned above are “unicorns”. This means that though they are private companies, yet they are valued at $1 billion or more. For example, Uber is valued at $62 billion, Airbnb $25 billion, Ola $5 billion etc. This is something that was considered unthinkable before the Internet revolution. That a company like that could really exist, was considered a myth –hence Unicorn!

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