The 17 Youngest Billionaires in America, and How They Got So Rich

The 2015 Forbes 400 list is out, and it’s getting younger. Last year, there were 11 billionaires on the list under 40, this year 17. Twelve of the 17 are techies, which account for nearly a third of all newcomers on the Forbes 400 overall. They’re changing the world.

1. Evan Spiegel — Age 25; 2. Bobby Murphy — Age 27

The Snapchat kids — CEO Spiegel (above right) is worth $2.1 billion (No. 327), co-founder Murphy (above left) is worth $1.8 billion (No. 375) — are the youngest on the Forbes 400 list. Makes sense, because they speak to their generation — more than 60 percent of 13- to 34-year-old U.S. smartphone users have the free app. See what you can do with a Stanford education?

3. Julio Mario Santo Domingo III — Age 30

The New York City DJ is the third of the Santo Domingo brothers on this list, who made their money the old-fashioned way: They inherited it. Their late grandfather, Julio Mario Santo Domingo, was a Colombian businessman and beer baron; the main part of their inherited wealth is from his ownership share of SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer. Julio III is known for throwing some pretty swell parties, and has a $4 million Manhattan apartment. At $1.9 billion, he’s at No. 358 on the Forbes 400 list.

4. Mark Zuckerberg — Age 31

You knew the Facebook CEO would be high up on the list — and he’s the 7th-richest person in the world. Still, it’s worth noting the 40.3 billion-dollar man founded Facebook 11 years ago — and he’s only 31.

5. Dustin Moskovitz — Age 31

Moskovitz is the CEO and Co-founder of Asana, a web and mobile app designed to help teams track their work. He makes good money there, but most of his $8.4 billion worth (No. 55) is from his Facebook shares. He helped Zuckerberg start the company, and left in 2008 to start Asana.

6. Elizabeth Holmes — Age 31

The founder-CEO of Theranos, Holmes is the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire ($4.5 billion, No. 121). And she did it by caring. Her uncle’s death from cancer moved her to develop a way to detect diseases earlier. She dropped out of Stanford University her sophomore year and founded Theranos in 2003 to make cheaper, easier-to-use blood tests.

7. Scott Duncan — Age 32

Duncan ($5 billion, No. 94) inherited late father Dan Duncan’s Enterprise Products Partners in 2010 alongside his three siblings. The company owns natural gas processing plants, oil and gas storage facilities and 49,000 miles of pipelines. Other than his ownership stake, he is not involved with the company.

8. Nathan Blecharczyk — Age 32; 9. Brian Chesky — Age 34; 10. Joe Gebbia — Age 34

These are the guy you blame for the squatter who won’t leave your property. As co-founders of Airbnb — which lists 1.5 million homes, or rooms in people’s houses or apartments, for rental stays — each is worth $3.3 billion (tied for No. 194). As of early 2015, 30 million guests had used the service since it launched in 2008, including 20 million in 2014 alone.

11. Sean Parker — Age 35

Sean Parker is our favorite young billionaire. He’s worth $2.5 billion (No. 268), but he could have been in jail by now. When he was 16, he was arrested by the FBI for hacking into a Fortune 500 company (he served community service). Then he caused a sea change in the music and entertainment business with his free (and ultimately illegal) file-sharing service Napster. That gave him the millions to help back Mark Zuckerberg’s fledgling Facebook project — the source of his wealth today. He’s had an almost two-decade tech career, and yet he’s only 35!

12. Robert Pera — Age 37

The CEO and founder of Ubiquiti Networks Inc., a maker of wireless products, is worth $2.2 billion (tied for No. 307), which allowed him to buy the Memphis Grizzlies NBA team.

13. Andres Santo Domingo — Age 37; 14. Alejandro Santo Domingo — Age 38

The older brothers of the Beer baron family (Andres, above left, and Alejandro, above right, are each worth $3.8 billion — tied at No. 149). They are known for their charitable works.

15. Jack Dorsey — Age 38

The co-founder and CEO of Twitter, and the founder and CEO of Square (what a multitasker!), is one of the bright lights in social media, although not as prosperous as Mark Zuckerberg. Still, $2.2 billion, good for a tie at No. 307 on the list, ain’t too shabby.

16. Travis Kalanick — Age 39

Kalanick is worth $6 billion, good for No. 80 on the list, and that figures to rise. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Uber, the controversial ride-hailing company that, like it or not, is changing the world — to the chagrin of taxi services around the world.

17. Jan Koum — Age 39

Jan Koum is the perfect conclusion to our look at the 17 members of the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans who are under age 40. In 2009, Koum started WhatsApp, now the world’s biggest mobile messaging service with 800 million users. Facebook bought it for about $22 billion in cash and stock in 2014; now Koum sits on Facebook’s board. He’s worth $7.7 billion, good for No. 60 on the Forbes 400 list.

Like most of these 17, Koum is a self-made man (only four of the 17 inherited their wealth — three from one family). And he’s a true rags to riches story: Born in the Ukraine, Koum and his mother immigrated to California when he was 16 and got an apartment through government assistance. She babysat, he swept floors to make ends meet. When she was diagnosed with cancer, they lived off her disability. He had a knack for computers and got a job working at Yahoo. The rest, as they say, is history.

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