At the grand old age of 26 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, far from the most popular person in media even before his great wealth became apparent, is personally worth $6.9bn, based on a theoretical valuation of social network site Facebook of $23bn.
This is based on the price paid by some private equity operators for small stakes in Facebook.
Zuckerberg now plans to give away $100m to various schools in Newark, New Jersey, in a ‘surprise’ announcement on the Oprah Whinfrey Show. So presumably he’s already trousered not insignificant amounts of dosh even though Facebook has yet to list as a public company.
Zuckerberg’s fortune, which has increased 245 per cent in a year, places him 35th on the Forbes US fat cats list, still way behind top moggy Bill Gates of Microsoft on $54bn and his pal veteran Berkshire Hathaway investor Warren Buffett on $45bn. Gates and Buffett have recently been trying to give away their fortunes by pooling their charity operations but they clearly need to try a bit harder. Oracle founder Larry Ellison was third with $27bn.
But Zuckerberg is ahead of fellow top 100 members Steve Jobs of Apple and Rupert Murdoch of News Corporation.
It’s interesting to note the prominence of media executives (albeit of the techie kind) in the Forbes list. The UK’s version, the Sunday Times Rich List, has been notable in recent years for their absence.
But Americans tend to start businesses and hang on to them rather than sell at the first available opportunity. The list is also testament to the relatively unsung heroes of this aspect of America, the Silicon Valley venture funds who back start-ups and then stick with them until the eventual mega-profits ensue.