There’s an old saying about entertainers who “suddenly” find fame: It usually takes a few decades to become an overnight success.
The same is true for wealthy entrepreneurs. While many rich business people only capture the attention of the public when they join the ranks of a rich list, their back-stories usually involve years of struggling, hard work and a healthy slice of luck.
Of course, there are exceptions, and in the last week we’ve seen a stunning one – Kevin Systrom, the 28-year-old co-founder of Instagram.
Systrom emerged with a fortune of $US500 million after Facebook acquired his photo-sharing app for a staggering $US1 billion.
While Systrom has already had a career that included a stint at Google and a period working with the founders of Twitter, he started Instagram less than two years before Facebook’s takeover.
It took just 551 days for Systrom, who owns 40% of Instagram, to go from start-up entrepreneur to $US500 million man.
The tech sector has created fortunes that quickly die out in the past, but often they have been paper fortunes, based on sharemarket valuations which can (and often do) fall. While Systrom’s Facebook deal does involve some Facebook stock, reports suggest the bulk is in cash.
Systrom’s incredible deal comes as SmartCompany prepares to publish its annual list of the hottest entrepreneurs aged 30 and under.
We’ve spent the last few weeks sizing up the candidates, studying their business models and plans and, of course, checking their ages.
It’s an eclectic rich, with a healthy number of tech sector stars and a smattering of members of the BRW Young Rich.
But there’s no one quite in Systrom’s league yet – indeed, he would actually struggle to sneak in to a list of the richest people aged 30 and under.
Let’s take a look at the top names on that list.
We’ve used various Forbes rich lists and the Sunday Times Rich list to compile our master list.
Mark Zuckerberg – $17 billion
The king of the under 30s is without doubt Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, whose wealth is set to skyrocket in the coming months as the internet giant completes its IPO. We shouldn’t forget the size of his achievement – at the tender age of 27, Zuckerberg is the 35th richest person in the world and likely to dominate rich lists for decades to come.
Yang Huiyan – $4.5 billion
China’s youngest billionaire inherited her wealth from her father Yeung Kwok Keung, who transferred to her his holding in family-run property developer Country Garden Holdings back in 2007. However, her star has faded somewhat since then, with her wealth falling from its peak of $US16.2 billion.
Scott Duncan – $3.9 billion
US-based energy pipeline entrepreneur Dan Duncan died in 2010, with the bulk of his fortune transferred to his 29-year-old son Scott. The company’s share price jumped 24%, adding $US1 billion to Scott’s fortune.
Dustin Moskovitz – $3.4 billion
Sometimes, getting rich is about being at the right place at the right time, and as a school friend of Mark Zuckerberg, Dustin Moskovitz was certainly that. He left Facebook in 2008, but retains a sizeable stake in the business that looks certain to grow after the float.
Eduardo Saverin – $1.9 billion
While Eduardo Saverin is another young billionaire who owes his fortune to Facebook, he’s best known as the co-founder controversially booted out of the company during its formative years. He has sold half his stake in the company and now lives in Singapore, where he continues to invest in tech companies.
Albert von Thurn und Taxis – $1.5 billion
German billionaire Albert von Thurn und Taxis is no stranger to rich lists – he first appeared at the tender age of eight, although he officially inherited his fortune, which is based mainly on real estate holdings, in 2001 at the age of 18. He’s known as one of Europe’s most eligible bachelors – he’s rich, he drives race cars and he even lives in the family castle, which is called Schloss Emmeram.
Thomas Persson – $1 billion
Thomas Persson is hardly a household name in Australia, but most followers of fashion would have heard of his family’s iconic clothing chain, H&M. The company, which was started in Sweden and had spread throughout Europe, remains very much a family affair. The Sunday Times named Persson as the richest person under 30 on its 2011 list.
Li Zhaohui – $867 billion
Ranked 172nd on Forbes’ Chinese rich list, Li Zhaohui is the chairman of Shanxi Haixin Iron & Steel Group, which he inherited in 2003 after his father was shot. As well as steel, the company is involved in funds management and insurance.
Robin Arora – $526 million
Second on the Sunday Times’ list of wealthy entrepreneurs under 30 was Robin Arora, who with his brothers Simon and Bobby own the British discount retail chain BM. Robin is in charge of the property side of the group, which also owns Opus Homewares.
Kevin Systrom – $500 million
The new kid on the rich list block, but an exciting entrepreneur who is now very cashed up.