Who’s in and who’s out? COVID-19 shakes up the AFR’s Rich List


Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins. Source: supplied.

There’s been a veritable shake-up of The Australian Financial Review’s Rich List  — at least by AFR Rich List standards — with a slew of tech entrepreneurs making their debut for 2020.

This year’s list highlights some of the trends that have come out of the COVID-19 crisis.

Canva co-founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht have made their Rich List debut, ranked together in 26th, with a combined wealth of $3.43 billion.

Canva’s third co-founder Cameron Adams has also ranked for the first time, at 104th.

The design unicorn has seen considerable growth during the COVID-19 pandemic — something it puts down to the increasing need for collaboration as workplaces and education establishments moved online.

Recently, it surpassed the milestone of 40 million monthly active users — which is double its 2019 user base, and a 25% increase since June.

The pandemic has also led to a noticeable increase in e-commerce activity. This has seen the likes of BigCommerce co-founders Eddie Machaalani and Mitchell Harper appearing on the list for the first time, as well as Kogan chief Ruslan Kogan, who has reaped the benefits of the online shopping revolution.

Finally, 2020 has seen a seemingly unending barrage of buy-now-pay-later news, with Afterpay’s and Zip’s share prices going gangbusters, and new entrants coming into the market left, right and centre.

This has seen Zip founder Larry Diamond feature on the Rich List for the first time, debuting in 194th position, with a wealth of $552 million.

Founder of rival Afterpay, Nick Molnar, has also climbed in the rankings, moving from 194th position to 50th.

He’s also become a billionaire since 2019, when he had a wealth of $487 million. Now, that’s $1.86 billion.

Who’s out?

Of course, in any shake-up, there are winners and losers.

This year, Melbourne Institute Of Technology founders and property developers Shesh Ghale and Jamuna Gurung slipped off the Rich List, as both of these sectors grappled with the COVID-19 crisis.

Flight Centre co-founders Geoff Harris, Bill James and Graham Turner are also all absent from the list for the first time since the 90s.

Elsewhere, Tim Kentley-Klay, the Aussie founder of self-driving car startup Zoox, is off the list. The business, which he owned 25% of, was sold to Amazon for US$1 billion ($1.237 billion) earlier this year, following reports it was struggling to secure funding during the pandemic.

At one point, the startup was valued at US$3.2 billion ($4.3 billion).

A boost for Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes

At the same time, some things never change. And those in the resources sector are still winning out, overall.

This year, mining magnate Gina Rinehart is back in the number one spot for the first time since 2015, after an uptick in iron ore prices saw her wealth increase 109%, to $28.9 billion.

Andrew Forrest appears to have benefited from the same resources boom, and is now the second-richest Aussie out there, with a wealth of $23 billion. That’s up from $7.99 billion in 2019.

Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar cracked the top 10 for the first time last year, with Farquhar in fifth place and Cannon-Brookes in sixth.

This year, they’ve swapped places. But they’ve both seen a sharp increase in wealth.

In 2019, Cannon-Brookes was worth $9.63 billion and Farquhar $9.75 billion. In 2020, they’ve both topped $16.5 billion.

Overall, the value of the 200 Aussie rich-listers was up, from a $341.8 billion last year to $424 billion in 2020.

The average wealth also jumped from $1.7 billion to $2.12 billion, and the ‘cut-off’ to make the top 200 also rose quite significantly, from $342 million to $540 million.


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