The usual suspects of Seattle (plus one)

Forbes Magazine, where I work, came out today with the 2011 edition of the Forbes 400 list. Seattle and environs are represented at roughly the national average among the famous roster of the richest Americans. There are seven entries. One is back after an absence. The names are of little surprise even to someone like me, who is New To Seattle and somehow has missed making the Rich List for each of its 30 years of existence.

Bill Gates (Wikipedia)

–No. 1 Bill Gates. $59 billion. Up $5 billion from last year, mainly because he’s got 75% of his wealth in something other than Microsoft.  But that’s still less than the 12% average increase among Forbes 400 members. Nevertheless, he’s Numero Uno in the U.S. for the 18th straight year.

–No. 13, Jeff Bezos. $19.1 billion. Up by $6.5 billion–an astonishing $18 million per day –from last year’s $12.6 billion. Sweatshop conditions at Amazon.com may have helped. And that’s after his aerospace firm’s unmanned spacecraft blew up during flight last month.

–No. 19 Steve Ballmer. $13.9 billion. Up by $800 million from last year’s $14.5 billion. The Microsoft boss is having to deal with a flat stock price.

–No. 23  Paul Allen. $13.2 billion. Up a tad from last year’s $13 billion. Over a decade his wealth has declined 20% as he moves more heavily into real estate development.

–No. 117 James Jannard. $3 billion. Flat over the past year. But this San Juan Islands resident is taking the money he made in sunglasses and making a splash in Hollywood.

–No. 273 Craig McCaw. $1.6 billion. Down $50 million from last year as he encountered problems with his telecom and other investments.

–No. 331, Howard Schultz. $1.3 billion. Starbucks shares have doubled like a caffeine high, returning its CEO to the Forbes list after a three-year absence. He also has a book out, Onward: How Starbucks Fought For Its Life Without Losing Its Soul, ghostwritten by Joanne Gordon, one of my former Forbes colleagues.

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The usual suspects of Seattle (plus one) — 8 Comments

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  4. This widely quoted paraphrase of Balzac is so much better (if somewhat different in meaning) than his original wording. Here’s what he wrote (in French) in 1835 in his novel “Father Goroit”: “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been discovered, because it was properly executed.” A close second here is a line in Bertolt Brecht’s “The Three-Penny Opera”: “Which is the greater crime, to rob a bank or to own one?”

    • Wonderful quote—and so true…The other is “Follow the money if you really want the truth…” and I need to also disclaimer with “slightly paraphrased…” Very interesting that that amount of powerful influence sits in a place like WWA…

    • You mean, when you could be watching the Real Housewives, or Parking Ticket Wars? No, probably not. But if you have an interest in how people create and retain wealth, and wonder how we could change the US economy for the betterment of all (something that is in the news only every stinkin day), then, yes you might find reasons “to care about this”. Contrast what each of these individuals is doing with their money, and you might find a model for responsible citizenship that succeeeds despite the twits in Washington DC.

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