Australia’s young rich list for 2020 is dominated by wealthy tech entrepreneurs

Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins came second on the AFR’s Young Rich List 2020. (Eóin Noonan, Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images)
  • Australia’s young rich list has been dominated by tech founders this year, making up 56 of the top 100 spots.
  • Founders from Atlassian, Canva, and Afterpay all took out the top five spots and accounted for all the billionaires on the list.
  • Tennis number one seed Ash Barty and basketballer Ben Simmons were the youngest on the list, both aged 24.
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The most reliable path to building wealth quickly seems pretty clear cut, judging from this year’s rich list.

Surmising the richest Australians under the age of 40, The Australian Financial Review’s roundup found 56 of the wealthiest 100 all owe their considerable fortunes to tech.

Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar topped the list with a cool $17.77 billion fortune – albeit for the last year, with his 41st birthday just around the corner. Business partner Mike-Cannon Brookes was precluded from the list for that very reason, with his own 40th having already come and gone.

Canva co-founders and fiancées Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht took out silver and bronze respectively, with a combined fortune of $3.43 billion. It has only swelled as the design company’s valuation has surged above $8 billion.

Afterpay’s Nick Molnar ranks fourth with a fortune of $2.22 billion, having been minted as Australia’s youngest self-made billionaire earlier this year on the back of the buy now pay later company’s soaring share price.

More than a billion dollars behind is Canva’s other co-founder Cameron Adams in fifth place, and the last of the young billionaires.

While the tech sector has long-been a place where fortunes are quickly made and lost, and billion-dollar valuations appear out of thin air, this year’s pandemic may have only thrown fuel on the fire.

With virus fears forcing the world back into their homes, much of life simply went virtual at an unprecedented clip.

Traditional businesses may have languished but it was the tech sector that sought to benefit, offering alternative ways to work, shop, and communicate.

Their performance on the stock market is a testament to that, both here and abroad.

Apple’s market cap has swelled to almost $US2 trillion during the pandemic. Founders like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla’s Elon Musk meanwhile have enjoyed ballooning fortunes as the biggest tech companies compounded their lead during the disruption.

But with heady tech valuations comes a risk to their founders’ fortunes. With much of their wealth tied up in stock prices, in the example of Afterpay, or VC valuations, in the case of Canva, their paper fortunes can as quickly expand as they can explode.

Combined with the potential for new names to storm onto or up the list, the list could both look very different next year or be even more dominated by tech personalities.

The lists’ sportspeople include golfer Adam Scott valued at $223 million, retired basketballer Andrew Bogut with $102 million, and F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo with $85 million.

Tennis number one seed Ash Barty and basketball player Ben Simmons tied for the youngest people on the list at age 24, with fortunes of $28 million and $56 million each.

Meanwhile, entertainers Miranda Kerr ($120 million), Chris Hemsworth ($90 million), Jennifer Hawkins ($60 million) and Margot Robbie ($55 million) all cracked the top 65 places.

Top 10 richest Australians under 40:

1. Scott Farquhar, 40, $17.77 billion (up from $13.22b) – Atlassian
2. & 3. Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, 34 & 32, $3.43 billion (up from $1.35b) – Canva
4. Nicholas Molnar, 30, $2.22 billion (up from $564 million) – Afterpay
5. Cameron Adams, 40, $1.12 billion (up from $452 million) – Canva
6. Laurence Escalante, 39, $919 million (up from $57 million) – Virtual Gaming Worlds
7. Peter Greensill, 39, $788 million (up from 745 million) – Agribusiness, Financial Services
8. Ori Allon, 40, $695 million (down from $747 million) – Compass
9. Mitchell Harper, 38, $694 million (up from $86 million) – Technology
10. Ruslan Kogan, 37, $685 million (up from $332 million) – Kogan