Tech executives lard richest Americans list

Technology executives dominated the top 10 of Forbes magazine’s list of 400 richest Americans this year, with Microsoft Corp. co-founder and Chairman Bill Gates retaining his place at the top of the annual list for the 14th time. According to Forbes, Gates is worth US$59 billion.

In all, five of the top 10 are technology executives. Larry Ellison from Oracle Corp. and Michael Dell from Dell Inc. were No. 4 and No. 8, respectively. Oracle’s chairman is worth US$26 billion, according to Forbes, while Dell’s net worth is US$17.2 billion.

Breaking the top 10 for the first time were Google Inc. wunderkinds Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who also were among the youngest of the top 400 richest Americans. Both Google co-founders and co-presidents are 34 and shared the No. 5 spot with a net worth of US$18.5 million; only the 317th richest American John Arnold, a hedge-fund billionaire in Houston, is younger than Brin and Page. Google’s Page also caught up to Brin’s bank account in 2007. Last year, Brin held the No. 12 spot at US$14.1 billion in net worth, while Page was a hair behind at No. 13 with US$14 billion.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen slipped from his position at No. 5 last year to No. 11 this year, just missing the top 10. Allen is worth US$16.8 million, according to Forbes. Current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, worth US$15.2 billion, also fell from 15th last year to 16th this year.

Other high-tech executives who made a strong showing on the list in 2007 are eBay Inc.’s founder and Chairman Pierre Omidyar, who came in 32nd with a net worth of US$8.9 billion; founder, Chairman, CEO and President Jeff Bezos, who is worth US$8.7 billion and tied with another high-tech billionaire, SAS Institute’s James Goodnight, for 35th; and Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt, who came in 48th and is worth US$6.5 billion.

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