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BILLIONAIRE 16 - The Visionaries Issue

BILLIONAIRE is an award-winning magazine not available on newsstands, but offered to a distinguished group of the most powerful, influential, high net worth readers across the world. Join them to receive special subscriber-only invitations. We go the extra mile to report on important topics such as the future of technology, world health, philanthropy and humanitarian work. We bring you incredible travel experiences, the very best in elegant living, the arts, culture and craftsmanship. We exclusively interview some of the world’s most illustrious billionaires, from Ted Turner to Nicky Oppenheimer to Joe Gebbia to Mo Ibrahim, about the problems keeping them up at night, their passions and projects. We speak to some of the planet’s most inspiring change-makers, from Jimmy Carter to Buzz Aldrin to Kofi Annan, about their visions for the future and how they are making the world a better place. Each quarterly issue of BILLIONAIRE is carefully curated with unique content that other magazines simply do not offer.

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4 Issues

in this issue

1 min
a word from the ceo

How often have we been told something is impossible until someone comes along and does it? It takes the vision and determination of just one to break centuries of deep-seated belief that something simply can’t be done. And, more frequently than not, it is youth that refuses to accept boundaries, parameters and limits the rest of us have come to respect or accept. Indeed, it can be sheer disbelief at the behaviour of those whom have gone before that causes someone to rise to the challenge and bring change about. As a young man I took great pride in proving people wrong about youth and its abilities; it was often assumed I was older than I was and therefore I was given opportunities one would not normally have given someone quite…

2 min
editor’s note

For true visionaries, life is rarely smooth sailing. Questioning the entrenched and upending the status quo, doing something never done before, can take many years of setbacks and failures. Case in point: one of our features in this issue is an interview with The Ocean Cleanup’s founder, Boyan Slat. When I spoke to him in December his mission was still on track: to trap and remove as much as 50 percent of the floating rubbish in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A few weeks later, news broke that the mission had stalled as part of the machine had broken. “We are of course, quite bummed about this,” wrote Slat in his blog, but added in a later interview, “breaking, for us, has been part of the process: design, test, break, repeat.” My first…

3 min
meet the new medicis

We live in a world often described as resembling a ‘new Middle Ages,’ beset by crises of authority and competition for legitimacy among governments, companies, NGOs, philanthropists, missionaries and guerillas. We’ve been here before. Fortunately, looking back 800 years, we can credit Florence’s Medici family for sponsoring Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and presiding over commercial empires innovating accounting and maritime navigation that led us from the first Middle Ages into the Renaissance. If today’s technological revolutions and ethical awakenings are to usher in a new Renaissance, it will be in large part thanks to the risk-taking breakthroughs of today’s Medicis, the visionary entrepreneurs bringing knowledge and financial services into the palm of everyone’s hand. Remember that the world’s private wealth, estimated at nearly US$70 trillion, represents the largest pool of…

3 min
a new kind of visionary

We associate the conception and development of disruptive technologies with visionaries who can imagine a future the rest of us don’t see, and then create technologies that can enable and deliver that future. Disruptive technologies are not simply a feat of engineering. They represent a leap of imagination. They are born from a different way of thinking and different way of looking at the world. Take the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo astronauts on humankind’s first journey to a different world. What struck me most when I first gazed upon a Saturn V stretched out in its cavernous enclosure at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center was not the technology or the engineering that went into building it, but rather the imagination to dare that something so massive could be hurled…

2 min
solving the future

When the brightest young minds from around the globe were given the challenge of solving some of the world’s most pressing issues, the results were inspiring. The work, drawn from 100 of the world’s best design schools, was exhibited at the Global Grad Show as part of Dubai Design Week last year. Free from the commercial pressures of professional life, the next generation of designers is channelling its craft to improve the world. Billionaire looks at some of the best. Twinkle Honghao Deng and Jiabao Li, Harvard University Twinkle is a project inspired by the inadequacies of current street lighting, which leave many neighbourhoods less safe: in perception and reality. Inspired by fireflies, the project imagines a population of technocreatures that live on light posts, solar charging by day. At night, each individual…

5 min
plastic panacea

By the time he was two years old, Boyan Slat had already designed and built a chair. Treehouses and ziplines swiftly followed. By age eight, he had moved on to rockets and computers. His parents, an artist and an expat relocation consultant, were baffled but delighted at their son’s prodigious engineering instinct and allowed him full reign of the living room for increasingly convoluted projects. "Slat was 16 when he was snorkelling on holiday in Greece and discovered more plastic in the sea than fish. In typical fashion, he decided to fix it." “Is it a gift? It feels quite innate. I’ve always been passionate about technology,” he explains over the phone from his birth town of Delft in The Netherlands. He has lived there his whole 24 years since. “Maybe that’s…