10 Youngest Self-made Billionaires of All Time

For the most part, billionaires who weren’t born that way aren’t young. Even if they were born into wealth, it takes a long time to go from a million dollars to a billion. Some people, however, have no patience to wait around for the thousands of millions to come pouring in. So they find a way to make the gargantuan bucks super fast. Try not to feel too jealous as we count down the ten youngest self-made billionaires of all time.

What were you doing when you were 21 years old, buying your first beer? Well, your first legal one, anyway. That’s great. But Kylie Jenner celebrated turning 21 in an entirely different way by becoming the youngest self-made billionaire in known history. Obviously, Kylie Jenner didn’t come from rags, as a member of the high profile Kardashian/Jenner clan, young Kylie was already worth quite a bit of money, but recently she’s kicked it up many notches.

Kylie owns a cosmetics company called, creatively enough, Kylie Cosmetics. For a while that sold decently but nothing too crazy. Then in November 2018, she started an exclusive deal with beauty retailer Ulta. Suddenly, her cosmetics were in over 1100 stores around the country. That, combined with Kylie’s social media savvy and fan friendly personality, sent business skyrocketing.

Within months, Kylie Cosmetics was valued at over $900 million. And guess what? Kylie Jenner is the one and only owner. Add the cash she already had and figure that she only has a handful of employees and she is now worth over a billion dollars. While Jenner didn’t bootstrap her way to 10 figure status, she still took a small company and made it absolutely enormous. And that’s a feat that simply cannot be denied.

If any tech figure has influenced your day to day lives more than Mark Zuckerberg, we’d like to meet them. The founder of Facebook, aka, that site you keep checking when you should be watching this video, is the reason social media is as omnipresent as it is today. He didn’t invent the idea of social media, but he made it so accessible that everyone from hipsters to great grandmas has a page these days.

Before Facebook was the ultimate household name, however, Mark Zuckerberg was just a kid from Harvard who had an idea. He started a Harvard only website called the Facebook. Yes, the site’s original name was literally what old people call it to annoy their grandkids. Originally as a fun, yet sophomoric way to rank Harvard girls hotness levels.

But soon enough, Zuckerberg realized that Facebook could do far more than rank pretty girls. It could connect people. So he tweaked it to become more of a social network, one that quickly took off around the campus. It proved so popular, in fact, that Zuckerberg realized other colleges would love it, too. So he expanded it again, making it so anyone with a college email address could join.

After just a couple of years, Zuckerberg concluded that catering to college kids was limiting, Facebook should be enjoyed by all. So now anyone with an email could join. And boy, did they ever. Facebook’s simplistic style appealed to every possible demographic. Soon, virtually every one of every generation had a Facebook account.

All this propelled Zuckerberg’s value to the stratosphere. And in 2008, he became the youngest self-made billionaire ever. Kylie Jenner broke his record a decade later, but at a current net worth of over $68 billion, we’re guessing Zuck isn’t crying much about it.

Worried about your pictures lingering around the Internet long after you’ve posted them? Then Snapchat is for you. It’s apparently also for a ton of people. Judging by how quickly their CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel became a billionaire off the app. Spiegel was born wealthy, with both his parents being high priced lawyers who resided in Malibu, California.

Spiegel went to an expensive private school and later to Stanford. There he met fellow tech nerds, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown. Together, they designed an innovative app called picaboo, where you would send pictures to your friends that would disappear moments later. It was social media sharing for people who value privacy.

In 2012, Spiegel left Stanford and began working on picaboo, now called Snapchat, full time. The move paid off as the company quickly grew in popularity. It grew so big, in fact, that in 2013, Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg offered to buy it for an incredible $3 billion. How many people would say no to that much money?

Spiegel did, telling Zuck to buzz off. He believes Snapchat was his and he would make his billions using it, not by selling it. He was right. In 2015, Spiegel joined the billionaire’s club at the tender age of 25. In 2017, he received an incredible $800 million cash bonus after successfully taking Snapchat public. At his peak, he was worth over $4 billion, more than Zuckerberg was willing to pay him to go away.

In 2018, Snapchat lost almost $800 million when Rihanna called for her fans to delete the app after it posted an offensive ad. Just a short while later, Kylie Jenner tweeted, “does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore?” That single statement cost the company $1.3 billion. Don’t cry for Evan Spiegel though, he’s still worth around 3 billion. Though we’re sure he’d rather influential celebrities not go after his poor little lap ever again.

Checks are dead. Nobody carries cash and online payments are all the rage. So companies like Stripe, which lets both businesses and individuals send money over the Internet, are in high demand. The brothers in charge of Stripe aren’t just in high demand, they’re in the money. John and his brother Patrick, whom we’ll talk about later, are Irish entrepreneurs who founded a software company called Shuppa in 2007.

Within a year, Shuppa had both merged with another company and got bought out entirely. This gave the 17 year old Collison a decent amount of money, which he used to attend and graduate from Harvard University. After leaving Harvard in 2009, the Collisons co-founded Stripe. It paid off, as six years later, Stripe has grown so huge that both Collisons were bonafide billionaires.

John was just 26 at the time. Today he’s still going strong with a net worth of over $2 billion. Not bad for the owner of a company that’s essentially PayPal, only not.

Facebook is so powerful, even people who aren’t with the company anymore are making billions off of it, such as the story of Dustin Moskovitz. Moskovitz was Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard and the two launched Facebook together. Moskovitz served as the company’s chief technology officer until 2008 when he left to strike out on his own.

However, even though he no longer worked for Facebook, he retained a 6 percent stake in the company. In 2010, when Facebook ballooned in value, that minority stake made Dustin Moskovitz a billionaire at age 26. Nearly a decade later, being a singular billionaire must feel old had to Moskovitz. He’s currently worth over $11 billion, thanks to those Facebook shares being more valuable than ever.

In addition, the project management tool he founded after Facebook, Asana is currently valued at $1.5 billion. Once a Asana becomes profitable, who knows how heavy Moskovitz’s wallet will be?

Unlike the Facebook crew, two of Snapchat’s co-founders are still running the company together. This means that Evan Spiegel’s success is Bobby Murphy’s as well. And both are extremely young, self-made billionaires. Murphy attended Stanford and was in the same fraternity as Spiegel and Reggie Brown.

After launching a college advice startup called Future Freshmen that went nowhere, the trio worked on what was then called picaboo. They changed the name to Snapchat, and after graduating from Stanford, Murphy worked an engineering job to pay Snapchat’s ample server bills. That sacrifice paid off as Snapchat blew up in both popularity and value.

As majority stockholders by a wide margin, Murphy and Spiegel both profited significantly, with Murphy becoming a billionaire at age 27. He’s currently worth over $3 billion. Oh, and as for the other guy, Reggie Brown, in 2013, he was kicked out of the company and filed a lawsuit, claiming he thought of the idea and wasn’t given any credit.

He had hoped to get half a billion dollars in the suit. But in 2014, settled for 157.5 million. That’s not a billion, but it will definitely pay the bills.

Stripes other founder, Patrick Collison became a billionaire at the same time as his brother. But because he’s two years older, he technically took longer to make his money. He isn’t complaining. Patrick was interested in technology and science from an early age. In 2005, at just 16, he won Ireland’s Young Scientist and technology exhibition by creating his own programing language.

In 2010, already a millionaire, thanks to merging and selling his first company, Shuppa, Patrick and his brother founded Stripe. Six years later, the company was valued at over $9 billion. And both brothers were young billionaires. Patrick alone is currently worth over 2 billion. That’s the kind of money that allows someone to pursue all sorts of passions.

In Patrick’s case, he’s a huge bookworm and parlayed that into launching his own publishing company, Stripe Press. Whether he makes money off of that is irrelevant since Stripe has given him enough to live on for the rest of his days.

If you need further proof of how huge Facebook really is, consider this. In 2010, only eight American billionaires were under 40 years old. Three of them founded Facebook. We’ve already discussed two of the men, and now here’s the third, Eduardo Saverin. You may know the fictionalized version of his story, as told in the movie The Social Network.

Here’s the real version. A fellow Harvard student, Saverin helped Mark Zuckerberg launch Facebook and until 2005 served as the company’s business manager. But around that time, Zuckerberg got frustrated with Saverin’s non Facebook business interests and decided to cut him out of the company. After some crafty legal wrangling where Zuck’s new company bought out Zuck’s old company and didn’t transfer any of the new company’s shares to Saverin, the breakup was official.

But Saverin was uninterested in going away quietly. He filed a lawsuit that Facebook settled by giving him around 5 percent of the company’s shares. In 2010, as Facebook exploded in value, those shares garnered Saverin over a billion dollars. Currently, he’s worth over 10 billion dollars, both because of those shares and because in 2012, he renounced his U.S. citizenship to live in Singapore.

This move has saved him hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. Apparently, for some people, you don’t get to 10 billion dollars without bending a few rules.

Google, the search engine to end all search engines, is practically synonymous with the Internet. It’s ubiquitous as both a noun and a verb. If you say you Googled something, people know exactly what you mean. And it all started with one young billionaire, self-made tech guru, Sergey Brin. Brin attended Stanford and met a kid named Larry Page during orientation.

The two formed a bond, at least partially because both realized the world needed a better search engine. They created one called Google that was powered by their very own algorithm called Page Rank. This algorithm analyzed the amount and ranking of website’s backlinks to determine how high or low the site would appear in a Google search.

Google took off at Stanford and once it became available to anyone with a computer, it completely revolutionized web surfing. It became so huge that when the company went public in 2004, it was already valued at $27 billion. This made Brin, just a few days shy of 31 years old, an overnight billionaire. 15 years later, Google and Sergey Brin show absolutely no signs of stopping ever.

Google is currently worth about $300 billion and its parent company, Alphabet, is worth an incredible 900 billion. Since Sergey Brin owns both, he’s making money like crazy. He is currently the tenth richest person on Earth with almost 54 billion dollars to his name. Not bad for a website that upon first glance, is a white screen and a search bar and not much more.

Technically, Elizabeth Holmes was a self-made billionaire. In reality, just about everything that made her rich was a giant scam. In 2003, a 19 year old Holmes founded Theranos, a blood testing startup that claimed they could perform full blood tests using a minuscule fraction of the amount of blood other tests require. The idea attracted many backers, and by 2014, the company was valued at nine billion dollars.

That meant the 30 year old Holmes was worth an incredible $4.5 billion, making her the youngest female self-made billionaire at the time. However, just two years later, Forbes revised her net worth to a whopping zero. That’s because a series of investigations revealed Theranos’ revolutionary blood testing technology simply didn’t exist.

One by one, financial backers dropped out of funding the company. Pharmaceutical companies backed out of working with them, and Holmes found herself legally barred from owning another company for 10 years. Her problems aren’t through. She’s also been charged with multiple counts of criminal wire fraud. With a trial set to begin in the summer of 2020.

Oh, and her lawyers are currently attempting to remove themselves from the case since she apparently hasn’t paid them in over a year. It’s not hard to see why Fortune magazine ranked her among the world’s most disappointing leaders.


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Written by Wolfgang Mayer

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