Saturday, February 16, 2013

Who The Hell Are These Guys Who Have All The Money?

Have you ever seen one of those 'world's richest people' lists? They're pretty much the same people every year; the only thing that really changes from year to year is the order. You know you're going to see the likes of Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet at the top; the question is who's ahead of who.

This ought to be the last world's-richest-people list you'll ever need. It's put together by Bloomberg, and the top 100 is updated daily- at this level, wild swings in fortune can easily occur from day to day. It's also a lot more detailed than what you're going to get in a magazine list: by clicking on any of the names, you'll get a graph and a briefing on where their money comes from, a biography, some recent news concerning them, a small slideshow of things they own, and a confidence rating of how far Bloomberg is willing to stick their neck out that the number given is the actual number. (They're very confident in Warren Buffet's net worth estimate. Aldi co-founders Theo and Karl Albrecht... they're not so confident.)

You'll also get a couple little factoids on each person, for example, how Theo Albrecht Sr., who died in 2010, was kidnapped in 1971, haggled over his own ransom price, and then wrote it off as a business expense. (Bloomberg says he failed to write it off; his Washington Post obituary says he succeeded.) Or, say, how Cyprus-by-way-of-Norway shipping magnate John Fredricksen keeps records of his businesses in 19 suitcases. (And you thought taking a shoebox to the tax assistant was a hassle.) Or how Azim Premji, head of Indian technology company Wipro, has been known to clock over seven hours conducting job interviews.

Occasionally, you might even get a new name in the top 100. Maybe it'll even be someone who didn't just drop out for a couple days and come right back.

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