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Forbes October 31, 2019

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United States
Forbes Media LLC
6 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
wealth mavens

In 1981, the great Malcolm Forbes came up with the audacious idea to compile and rank the richest Americans, choosing 400 in a nod to Caroline Astor’s fabled ballroom, and perhaps also to alliteration. Forbes continues to put the resources, time and talent into this iconic journalistic enterprise, a public service that provides some transparency on those who influence so many spheres of life in the U.S. For this year’s list, 40 reporters made calls, met with billionaires, scrutinized documents, read footnotes and talked with analysts and experts to come up with the numbers. And for the past nine years, this massive project, as well as the even more massive challenge of tracking every billionaire in the world, has been jointly overseen by assistant managing editors Kerry A. Dolan and Luisa…

8 min.
wealth: the democrats don’t get it

THE PUBLICATION OF our “rich list” will fan the fevers of plundering politicians, especially those “soak the rich” Democratic presidential candidates looking for seemingly easy sources of loot to finance their socialist fantasies. They’re delusional. “With all thy getting, get understanding” To hear these White House wannabes tell it, you’d think the people on our 400 list are like the Disney character Scrooge McDuck, sitting in their money bins loaded with coins, gold, jewels and paper currency. Tax it, and voila! You’ve got all that lucre for your pet projects. It just ain’t so! Look at what the people on this list actually own, and you’ll quickly see that only a small portion of their assets are in ready cash. Anyone who’s ever owned a home or a car can attest to…

4 min.
new billionaire ghost writer

MacKenzie Bezos was not fussy, which was helpful, as there was no time for fussiness at Amazon headquarters in early 1996. She shared her office with a junior employee in a space that doubled as the company kitchen. For 12 hours a day, as workers squeezed by to use the microwave, she presided over the accounting. At night she headed to the warehouse to pack orders. She “was a huge contributor,” says Mike Hanlon, Amazon’s seventh employee. “She really is a talented person in a way that I think gets lost when you’re the billionaire’s wife.” The mystery around MacKenzie, 49, seems carefully cultivated. She largely slipped into anonymity after Amazon’s early years and has granted no interviews since January, when her split from husband Jeff became public. The couple finalized…

2 min.
binary billions

For decades now, one thing has held true: If you’re young and want to make a fortune, go online. Thirteen members of The Forbes 400 are under age 40. Four are heirs. The other nine created their wealth digitally—transforming everything from how we travel to how we buy a car. Ernest Garcia III CARVANA AGE: 37 In 2012, Ernest Garcia III had an idea, but his boss—his father, Ernest II—had his doubts. “I wasn’t sure people would buy a used car online without seeing it,” Ernie II says. “He felt very differently.” The Garcias were already motor moguls, owners of an empire of used-car dealerships from Atlanta to Albuquerque. Ernest III, who let his father speak for him for this story, wanted to begin selling those vehicles through Carvana.com. Ernie III knew better…

2 min.
not quite

Michael Jordan $1.9 BIL CHARLOTTE HORNETS, ENDORSEMENTS His Airness’ kingdom covers the hardwood—he owns the NBA’s Hornets—packages of Hanes underwear (complete with Jordan trading cards inside), restaurants, Gatorade and, of course, sneakers. The kicks alone generate $3 billion in annual sales. Safra Catz $1.1 BIL ORACLE Catz sits alone atop Oracle after her co-CEO, Mark Hurd, took a leave in September. She’s the rare hired hand to become a billionaire, and she has been richly rewarded by Oracle: In fiscal 2018 her compensation package totaled more than $108 million. Jay-Z $1 BIL MUSIC “Generational wealth, that’s the key,” Jay-Z rapped in 2017’s “Legacy.” “My parents ain’t have s–t, so that shift started with me.” His fortune includes his ownership of Armand de Brignac champagne, worth $310 million, and a $70 million art collection. Tom Steyer $1.6 BIL HEDGE FUNDS Will America elect another billionaire as…

2 min.
declined or deceased

You’re off The Forbes 400 this year if you have less than $2.1 billion to your name. That minimum net worth for inclusion hasn’t changed since last year, but 22 billionaires dropped out of the ranks, 29% more than in 2018. An additional 5 died. Some got burned in the markets. And others just gave a pile away. Two notables: Former bond trader Leslie Alexander (above) sold the NBA’s Houston Rockets to fellow billionaire Tilman Fertitta in 2017. He then donated $400 million of the proceeds to his eponymous foundation, which focuses primarily on animal welfare. Shares of Nick Caporella’s National Beverage, which makes LaCroix seltzer, sank 65% this year. Increased competition—including Pepsi’s Bubly—dented its sales, while erratic pronouncements from Caporella and a dispute over LaCroix’s ingredients didn’t help matters. Little Big…