Usual suspects crowd Forbes' list of richest people in tech

Usual suspects crowd Forbes' list of richest people in tech
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The most lucrative names in tech in 2015 are largely unchanged from 2014, with only one woman or non-American male in the top 10


If you're looking to Forbes' newly published 100 Richest People In Tech list as evidence of diversity and evolution in business, you're bound to be disappointed.

The top 10 out of Forbes' newest tabulation of the 100 most lucrative people in tech looks a whole lot like ... the top 10 of the 2014 list, which reads like a who's who of well-established, and terribly familiar, tech giants.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Gates remains No. 1 with $79.6 billion at his command (and at No. 8, Steve Ballmer with $22.7 billion). But everyone below him is equally familiar: Larry Ellison, at No. 2, wields $50 billion. Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page & Sergey Brin, and Michael Dell all round out the list.

Founders of tech startups as a whole are still a long way from the top 10. Tesla's Elon Musk clocks in impressively enough at No. 15 ($13.9 billion). But below that, Jan Koum of WhatsApp appears at No. 27 with a comparatively paltry $7.9 billion to his name. Jack Dorsey of Twitter ranks No. 92 with $2.3 billion, and Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel with $2.1 billion (the youngest on the list at 25) shows up in second-to-last place.

What remains both surprising and dismaying is how the list at the top end continues to tilt white and male, despite technology's international reach and allegedly field-leveling power. Jack Ma (No. 7, $23.2 billion) was the only nonwhite entry in the top 10, although Asians and Indians figure prominently throughout the rest of the running. The rest of the list is more fruitful, though: aside from China, another Asian country that repeatedly cracks the list is South Korea, with five people on the list to Japan and India's two each. (Taiwan has two; Singapore has one.)

But women barely make the list, with a total of seven in the entire running of 100. The only one to crack to the top ten is Laurene Powell Jobs (No. 9, $20.1 billion), widow of Steve Jobs. Next highest is at No. 30 ($7.5 billion) -- Zhou Qunfei, the self-made founder and chairwoman of Hong Kong display-glass creator Lens Technology, and the only nonwhite woman on the list.

Though none of the women are involved with a name-brand startup, the roster of outfits they are associated with is impressive. Epic Systems, the electronic health records outfit, was founded and is currently headed by Judy Faulkner (No. 80, $2.6 billion). Meg Whitman of eBay, Eva Maria Bucher-Haefner of Computer Associates, Dagmar Dolby of Dolby Laboratories, and online gambling magnate Denise Coates also made the list.

The short lesson is that those that tend to make the top of the list of 100 tend to stay there. Most of the changes in the top 10 from last year involved little more than a rejiggering of those already at the high end. The only two new names in the top 10 are Jack Ma and Jobs. (Dish Network's Charles Ergen, formerly at No. 9 with $17.2 billion, is nowhere to be seen in this year's running at all.) For all of the disruption said to be taking place in the tech world, this is one status quo that's yet to be shaken up.

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