Photo: Associated Press
Forbes released its annual list of the 400 richest people in America.On the list there are a lot of unimpressive people who inherited their fortunes.
Obviously, we’re fans of the entrepreneurs.
These people, who include a son of a cabdriver and an Oklahoma farm boy, worked hard to build empires from scratch, and came out with a pile of dough.
Many of them are tech founders, but some are just good, old-fashioned businessmen.
How it was founded: A January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics inspired Bill Gates and Paul Allen. It featured Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems's (MITS) Altair 8800 microcomputer. Allen noticed that they could program a BASIC interpreter for the device. The pair worked together on it and demonstrated their program flawlessly to MITS, who then agreed to distribute it as the Altair BASIC. Microsoft was established after that, with Gates as the CEO.
How it was founded: Ellison founded Oracle in 1977 with $1,400 from his savings. The company was first named Software Development Laboratories (SDL). In 1979, the company was renamed Relational Software Inc., later renamed Oracle after the flagship product Oracle database.
How it was founded: Bloomberg owns an 88% stake in Bloomberg LP, the data analytics firm he founded in 1982 after being fired from Salomon Brothers ('Living well is the best revenge,' he recently said of his multi-billion dollar turnaround). While other financial media firms have been cutting jobs and selling titles, Bloomberg is on a growth spurt.
Company: Las Vegas Sands (casinos)
How it was founded: A cabdriver's son, Adelson borrowed $200 from his uncle to sell newspapers at age 12. He later created the computer industry's marquee event, Comdex in the mid-1980s, which he sold to Japan's Softbank for $862 million 1995. Adelson then built the $1.5 billion all-suites Venetian Resort Hotel Casino and the 1.2-million-square-foot Sands Convention centre in 1997. He opened $1.9 billion Palazzo resort in 2008.
How it was founded: Bezos started his career on Wall Street doing computer science. Amazon.com was the result of a cross-country road trip in 1994. Bezos wrote the business plan while driving from New York to Seattle and set up the original shop in his garage.
How it was founded: Former U. of Oregon track star founded sneaker-maker Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964. He later sold Japanese running shoes from the trunk of his car and earned extra income teaching accounting at Portland State. He renamed his footwear maker Nike, after Greek goddess of Victory, 1971.
Company: Access Industries
How it was founded: Moscow native arrived penniless in U.S. in 1978; earned masters from Columbia, MBA from Harvard Business School. Founded holding group Access Industries in 1986; later teamed with fellow titans Mikhail Fridman and Viktor Vekselberg to create hulking Russian oil company TNK-BP through a merger of Russia's TNK and British Petroleum. Now Russia's third largest oil firm, it is his biggest holding; firm is reportedly considering picking up BP's assets.
How it was founded: After one year at Harvard, Zuckerberg dropped out and moved to the west coast to make the social network he created in his dorm a full-fledged business.
Company: Enterprise, Rent-a-Car
How it was founded: Taylor became a sales manager for a St. Louis Cadillac distributor. He took a 50% pay cut to start a company that provided replacement cars. His business took off 1970s when insurance companies were ordered by courts to pay for replacement rentals. He added Vanguard Automotive (National, Alamo) in 2007.
Company: News Corp
How it was founded: The Australia-born tabloid titan inherited one newspaper at age 23; he built a media empire with Australian and U.S. papers, and created Fox film studio and cable channel Fox News.
Company: Continental Resources
How it was founded: Hamm's first job was pumping gas. He bought a truck in 1965 and founded Harold Hamm Tank Truck Service the next year. He became one of the top Oklahoman oilfield fluid transporters. In 1967 he founded Continental Resources, oil and gas exploration, production company and took it public in 2007. Hamm then took gas processing firms Hiland Partners and Hiland Holdings private in 2009.
How it was founded: Omidyar wrote code for his site Auction Web at age 28 and renamed it eBay after his first choice, Echo Bay, was already taken. The first item ever sold on eBay was his broken laser pointer for which he got $14.83. Omidyar became a billionaire in 1998 when company went public.
How it was founded: The U. of Wisconsin-Eau Claire grad financed his education building homes; he later began selling tools from a single store in 1970s. Menards is now a popular Midwestern do-it-yourself hardware warehouse.
Company: Kinder Morgan Energy Partners
How it was founded: From Wikipedia, 'Kinder partnered with Bill Morgan to form Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, a large energy and pipeline corporation. In May 2006, Kinder and Morgan, with Fayez Sarofim and several investment banks made an offer to take Kinder Morgan private. In August 2006, they succeeded in the buyout by enhancing their offer. While CEO of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners in 2008, Richard D. Kinder earned a total compensation of $1. He did not receive any cash, stock, or options.'
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