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Forbes ASAP's "High Tech's 100 Wealthiest" List Younger and Richer Than Ever.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 17, 1998--Forbes ASAP announced today that the combined wealth of the members of its 1998 "High Tech's 100 Wealthiest" list totals more than $150 billion -- most of it created in just the last six years.

"It may be the single greatest period of wealth creation in American history," says the magazine's editor in chief, Michael S. Malone. "In just the last year alone, the entry requirement even to make the list at number 100 has doubled from $40 million to $80 million. This is an extraordinary statement both about the nature of the booming American economy in the 1990s and about high technology's central role within it."

Leading the list is, of course, Microsoft's Bill Gates, with an estimated worth of $58.73 billion at the market's peak on Aug. 3. What is remarkable is that there are 15 billionaires on the list. It includes not only Gates' past and present colleagues at Microsoft (Paul Allen at $16.98 billion and Steve Ballmer at $12.99 billion) and such industry legends as Intel's Gordon Moore ($7.62 billion) and Bill Hewlett ($3.41 billion), but also such newly minted Internet tycoons as Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com ($2.14 billion) and Dave Filo of Yahoo! ($1.01 billion). Filo's partner, 29-year-old Jerry Yang, just misses the billionaire list at $993.2 million.

"No question this was the year of the Internet babies," says Nancy Rutter, who edited the list (and who happens to be married to Jim Clark, number 28 on the list). "The seemingly endless list of 'dot.com' companies that successfully went public in the last 24 months -- most notably Yahoo!, Amazon.com, RealNetworks, Broadcast.com, OnSale, Inktomi, CNET, and @Home -- have not only pushed the wealth list upwards, but also given it a very youthful appearance. There are 44 tycoons on the list under 45, four under 30."

The youngest is 25-year-old Chris Klaus (number 51), founder of Atlanta's Internet Security Systems Inc., whose total worth equals $187.5 million. A whiz kid with supercomputers in high school, Klaus later dropped out of Georgia Tech to write software code. Klaus, who until recently wore cutoffs and sandals to the office, still prefers to talk about playing laser tag with his sister than about his new wealth.

The oldest member of the list is J.R. Simplot (number 27), who earned his first million nearly 60 years ago with french fries, but made most of his current $449.1 million from a $1 million investment in Micron Technology in 1981.

"But not everybody had a good year, even in such a hot market," says Malone. "Forty-one members of last year's list did not make repeat appearances. Some, such as the founders of Remedy, Cabletron, and Bay Networks, lost battles with competitors. Others, such as the heads of many semiconductor and semiconductor equipment companies, came down with the 'Asian flu.' And some tycoons simply didn't make enough money to keep up with the fast-moving top 100."

The Forbes ASAP "High Tech's 100 Wealthiest" issue (publication date Oct. 5, 1998) also contains articles investigating large private wealth in such professions as venture capital and investment banking. There, the magazine's researchers found holdings almost as great as those on the list itself. Sitting at the top of that list is Silicon Valley's original investor, Arthur Rock who backed Apple, Intel, and Fairchild, and whose current wealth the magazine estimates at $500 million.

Says Rutter of the Top 100 list, "With the market now becoming so unpredictable -- stripping billions of dollars of wealth from these individuals one day and returning it the next -- it's hard to predict how this list will change in the months ahead. But one thing is certain: The last few years have seen an extraordinary period of wealth creation, perhaps the greatest in our lifetimes. You can only look upon it with amazement."

About Forbes ASAP

Forbes ASAP is the technology supplement of Forbes and a leading magazine of the digital revolution. It is available to all 784,000 Forbes subscribers.

The bimonthly is best known for its annual "Big Issue," a compendium of essays by the nation's top thinkers about the social and philosophical implications of the new, digital technology.
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Date:Sep 17, 1998
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