They come from every corner of the world—Austria and Slovakia to Australia and Vietnam—having made their fortunes in every venture imaginable: music and makeup, software and sweaters. In all, 195 fresh faces joined the world’s billionaire ranks this year. Here are 10 of the most exceptional.
one of eight children, Steward milked cows and slopped hogs on the family farm before school every day while his dad worked as a mechanic, trash collector and janitor to make ends meet. After graduating from Central Missouri State University, he sent out 400 resumes over three years before landing his “dream” job as a salesman at Missouri Pacific Railroad Company.
He cofounded IT provider World Wide Technology in 1990, which counts companies like Citi, Verizon and the federal government among its customers. His 59% stake in the $11.2 billion (sales) company, making him one of the richest African-Americans in the country. “I hope what this represents is that all things are possible,” Steward says, a lifelong jazz lover who donated $1.3 million to the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2018 to create a jazz studies program. “We still live in the greatest country in the world, and God blesses persons of color too.”
After making his fortune in retail, Hang is now focusing on politics, too. In the run-up to Brazil’s October 2018 presidential election, he urged his 2 million Facebook followers to back far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, who ultimately won by a ten-point margin. (Hang went as far as threatening to leave the country if Bolsonaro’s leftist opponent, Fernando Haddad, won the race.)
Even after the election, he has continued to post live videos of himself on social media almost daily. One recent posting showed him celebrating former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s corruption conviction by dancing poolside to fireworks.
Outside of politics, Hang’s stores are thriving. Havan, the department store chain he cofounded at 24, generated a record $1.2 billion in 2017 sales, up 40% over the prior year. One ingredient in that success: “Always hire happy people; leave the unhappy ones to the competition,” Hang says.
The dermatologists have tapped into the lucrative skin care market with their multilevel marketing firm Rodan + Fields, which boasts $1.5 billion in sales and 300,000 independent “consultants” selling anti-aging creams and more. In February, they launched a new teen acne line, a throwback to their first claim to fame, acne product Proactiv.
The brand took off when the doctors created a licensing deal with infomercial company Guthy-Renker in 1995 to sell their regimen through television advertisements featuring celebrities like Jessica Simpson. The doctors sold their royalty rights in 2016, and now their full attention is on Rodan + Fields. Their goal, Rodan says, is help as many people as possible have “life-changing skin.”
An English major who reluctantly took over his grandfather’s small outerwear company in 2001, Reiss has created the “it” coat of the decade. The Canada Goose CEO marketed his down-filled jackets by giving freebies to people who spent a lot of time in the cold: Bouncers outside of nightclubs, polar explorers and attendees of cold-weather film festivals like the ones in Sundance and Toronto.
His $1,000-plus parkas are now fashion statements, staples on the streets of London, New York and Tokyo and have a strong celebrity following, including Jennifer Lopez, Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig. The stock has climbed threefold since its public debut two years ago; sales rose 46% to $450 million in 2018. Reiss, 45, has kept manufacturing at home as other companies moved offshore: “Making a Canada Goose parka in Canada is like making a Swiss watch in Switzerland.”
She’s just the second woman in Russian to become a billionaire and joins the ranks of the world’s wealthiest thanks to the success of her e-commerce company, Wildberries, which had $1.9 billion in revenue last year. She started the business in 2004 at age 28 in her Moscow apartment while on maternity leave from teaching. She realized how difficult it was for her and other young mothers to shop for clothes for themselves with a newborn at home. Her husband, Vladislav, an IT technician, soon joined her to help grow the business. Today Wildberries sells 15,000 brands of clothing, household products and other items and processes roughly 400,000 orders a day from 2 million daily visitors in Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.
In twenty years at Oracle, Catz, a former investment banker and now the company’s co-CEO, is often credited with leading Oracle’s aggressive acquisition strategy, including two hostile takeovers. In January 2005, Oracle acquired competitor PeopleSoft after an 18-month pursuit for $11 billion, more than double its original unsolicited bid.Three years later in April 2008, it acquired BEA Systems for $8.5 billion, a deal that also involved Carl Icahn, the billionaire corporate raider who was a BEA shareholder and pushed BEA to do the deal with Oracle. “I can’t really speak about [working with Icahn] in open session,” Catz said at a May 2019 commencement speech at the Wharton School. “It would be unladylike.”
Born to two Iraqi parents who came to Israel as refugees, Fattal began working in hotels at age 23 as a receptionist. He toiled in other jobs—bellhop, security guard, salesman—before founding his own hotel company in 1999. “From the day I went into the hotel industry, I fell in love with it,” he says. “There is a glamour to it.”
Starting a business just then in Israel would prove exceptionally tough, especially for a tourism-based one like Fattal’s. The Second Intifada conflict with the Palenstinains began in 2000 and lasted for several years. Fattal, however, thrived by targeting local, rather than international, tourists and by persuading hotel owners to switch from global brands to his more affordable one.
Today, Fattal Hotels, which went public in February 2019, owns and operates 40 locations in Israel and the Leonardo Hotels in Europe. “When you’re approaching the guests, it’s like you are on a stage. You have to be courteous, and I just always felt it was my job to maintain the atmosphere for happy people.”
At 21, Jenner is the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, earning a ten-figure fortune even earlier than Mark Zuckerberg (who joined the billionaires list at 23 in 2008). “I didn’t expect anything—I did not foresee the future,” Jenner says. “But [the recognition] feels really good. That’s a nice pat on the back.” She owns 100% of Kylie Cosmetics, the three-year-old beauty business that did an estimated $360 million in sales last year. Most of the company’s revenue comes from e-commerce. But Kylie Cosmetics also has a new deal with Ulta that put its goods in all the makeup retailer’s 1,163 U.S. stores, “so people that would never buy my products—or that aren’t my fans—can see them in person.”
A successful IPO last year was music to Ek’s ears. Spotify, the music-streaming service he founded 13 years ago, now has a $24 billion market cap. It still hasn’t had a profitable year, though; its focus is squarely on funneling cash into acquisitions. In February it announced a $340 million purchase of podcast companies Gimlet Media and Anchor FM. Ek founded Spotify in 2006 but before that, he found himself adrift as a self-made millionaire in his 20s—clubbing, driving a cherry-red Ferrari Modena—after an early stint at another Swedish tech company. “I was deeply uncertain of who I was and who I wanted to be,” Ek said in 2012. “I really thought I wanted to be a much cooler guy than what I was.”
I never intended to get this far,” said Kenny Park, whose father owned a fishing company. But he has stitched together a fortune making handbags and accessories for U.S. brands such as Michael Kors, Coach, Mark Jacobs and Alexander Wang. His Simone Accessories, named after his wife and 62% owned by Park and his family, makes some 30 million handbags, purses and wallets a year in its factories in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and China.
His big break came in 1987 after he flew from Seoul to New York City with a sample bag. He pitched Donna Karan executives an offer to supply bags for almost 30% less than what they were paying their European suppliers, but with one caveat: a “Made in Korea” label. Reluctant at first, Donna Karan agreed to a trial order and by the next year was a key customer, one he still supplies today.
-Luisa Kroll; Forbes Staff
The Five Trends To Future-Proof Your Business
Some of these fads were slowly building in the previous decade, others are still nascent, but need your full attention to prepare your business for the times ahead.
1. AI and machine learning
Key takeaway: Automate repetitive tasks, but be wary of automating inefficiencies and biases.
You’re surrounded by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning: from the recommendations Netflix makes based on your viewing history to those pesky adverts that track you around the internet. As Bronwyn Williams, a trend analyst at Flux Trends in South Africa, explains, “Most of what you think is AI is actually machine learning.” Williams emphasizes that fears about AI “stealing jobs” are overrated, and most businesses will see the arduous, repetitive tasks given to machines, freeing up humans for analysis and critical thinking. She warns businesses to remember it’s the human interaction that differentiates one offering from another. “Don’t automate away your value. Look under the hood and make sure you understand why you are automating something – and be careful not to automate inefficiencies.” Looking at automated HR processes, companies have discovered that even unconscious human biases are learned by machines (for example, CVs belonging to certain genders and races are discredited. Machines are not born neutral – especially if they’re learning from humans.) Embrace machine learning, but do so with a pinch of salt.
2. Driverless cars and the supply chain
Key takeaway: Autonomous cars are still about 15 years away, but it’s best to prepare your fleet and supply chain choice now.
The automotive industry is going through some major changes: electric cars, the growth of services like Uber and Lift, and lastly, the development of autonomous vehicles. Though the first two will impact everyday consumer experiences, it’s self-driving cars that will massively alter businesses and their supply chains across Africa in the next decade. “As convenience and efficiency are the cornerstones of the fleet industry, there is no doubt self-driving vehicles will start making a play for their share of the fleet industry sooner rather than later,” explains Sudesh Pillay on fleet management company EQSTRA’s online platform. The supply chain will no longer be affected by driver fatigue and human error. Driverless cars will also dramatically impact accident rates (lowering them by 90%, according to some estimates) and supply chain efficiency. As Innovation Group’s Future Now report indicates, autonomous cars face some serious challenges across Africa before they can become a practical alternative to human drivers. “There is a vision, in the not-too-distant future, in which self-driving cars hold a lot of promise…. Others are more skeptical about the practical feasibility, especially in Africa where the infrastructural limitations (roads, electricity etc.) hold back the vision, at least in the foreseeable future. Our research indicates that self-driving cars may only become a reality in South Africa in  or more years and that this may spur innovative advances in infrastructure, energy services and ultimately the look and feel of roads and cities.”
3. Climate crises and
Key takeaway: Hire a Chief Sustainability Officer to
start building climate resilience into your business.
“Now is the time to start thinking seriously about resilience,” says Hugh Tyrrell, Director at Green Edge, a corporate mentoring initiative in Cape Town that helps businesses develop sustainably. “The big brands have Chief Sustainability Officers (CSO). This role is in the C-suite and is forward-thinking,” Tyrell explains. CSOs look at how businesses can start developing their own power, lower their eco-footprint and manage their resources better. Looking to the big corporate trendsetters, there are some major shifts in corporate strategy focusing on a sustainable business model instead of growth at all costs. Unilever, for example, is holding their suppliers to the same eco-friendly standards that they themselves are working at, says Tyrrell. Natural disasters associated with the climate crisis are already affecting African businesses too. Explains Tyrrell, “In agriculture, which is a big sector in Africa, we are seeing the effect of droughts or floods. Others have to work more closely with their suppliers to ensure supplies come in good condition and on time.” Mining is another industry heavily impacted by the climate crisis – and the push by consumers for more environmental-friendly solutions.
4. The age of cyberattacks and data breaches
Key takeaway: Make sure your IT department includes
skilled data protection specialists.
As businesses innovate and rely less on physical hardware like servers, and start instead relying on the cloud, they can expect to see a massive uptick in cyberattacks and subsequent data breaches. This trend increased exponentially in 2019 (even the City of Johannesburg in South Africa was held by ransomware) and is set to explode in the coming decade. Added to this, businesses are collecting more data than ever before, particularly for marketing purposes and to tailor their product offerings. Because of this, businesses should prepare themselves for the onslaught by firstly, taking their online security very seriously, secondly, training their staff (employees are the weakest link in any security chain) and thirdly, putting more budget behind appropriate security measures. “The demand for narrow cybersecurity expertise is driven by a constantly changing threat landscape, as well as evolving technologies, such as cloud or IoT. As a result, we see the bigger demand in, for example, threat intelligence analysts and dedicated threat intelligence services, and experts for cloud platform protection. The call for data protection specialists is seen in both technical and regulatory and compliance aspects,” says Alexander Moiseev, Chief Business Officer at online security software Kaspersky.
5. The remote workforce
Key takeaway: Flexi-hours and working remotely are practical ways to combat challenges like loadshedding and traffic.
With intermittent power supply (particularly in South Africa), increasing traffic and less reliance on physical IT infrastructure like servers, the remote and flexible workforce is becoming a norm. Says Moiseev, “The working model is already being changed, with 40% of small and medium companies regularly allowing their employees to work at locations outside the office — from home or while traveling.” In addition, health scares like the coronavirus are amplifying these trends. “Apps that enable remote working are having a moment,” explains Williams. “You now get filters to add makeup to video conferences so you don’t have to dress up when you’re working from home.” Many employees expect the flexibility of remote working when job hunting, and businesses reap the benefits of agility.
The Top 5 Emerging Crazy Tech
A pick of some of the weirdest, coolest tech that could come hurtling our way this year.
- A bot that delivers toilet paper
Forgot to instal toilet paper in the loo? The Charmin RollBot is designed to carry a roll of toilet paper on two wheels. With the press of a button on your phone, the RollBot will help with your sanitary requirement.
Using Bluetooth, the bot will commence its mission; an infra-red sensor able to navigate its way to you. According to Business Insider, there’s no price or release date for RollBot, nor is it clear if it will ever be released as a consumer product. Charmin calls RollBot a “conceptual prototype”. The brand unveiled the bot last month at the CES 2020 expo in Las Vegas.
2. The Cyrcle phone
If for any reason you got bored of your rectangular handset, the circular phone is always an alternative offering a different view and take. According to the makers, the phone was designed with the Generation Z, female audience in mind. It’s round and features two headphone jacks. The device was designed by a US-based startup delivering a shape that it says is more “sensual”. The company reckons it will be ready to launch in a year’s time.
3. A smart bed
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. But it’s not always possible to have the best sleep every day. Or is it? There is a bed that’s guaranteed to give you your beauty sleep the way you want it.
Sleep Number Climate 360 has a mattress with features that warm your feet to help you sleep faster. It will also help you stay asleep by cooling your body, and balance your temperature with your natural wake and sleep cycles.
But what’s most intriguing is the fact that the bed also gives you a Sleep IQ score for personalized sleep insights. It measures your heart rate, breathing and movement, tracks your circadian rhythms and can show how your heart rate varies. The smart bed received the CES 2020 Best of Innovation award and is only expected to be available in 2021.
4. Self-changing trash can
For those who dread taking out the trash, this device is possible a no-brainer. Apart from its motion sensors to detect when you need to throw trash, when it’s full, it will automatically seal the trash bag and line the bin with a new one, all with a press of a button.
Even if the bin is overflowing, the top compartment will lift up so it can still seal the bag shut without any mess. The bin, called the Townew bin, was designed by a Canadian company, Knectek Labs.
5. Vertical TV
Just when we were getting used to wider TVs, it seems taller screens may soon be coming to your living room. Samsung’s Sero TV vertical-oriented will soon be hitting markets.
The TV can not only work in the traditional horizontal format, but is also able to turn on its side for playing vertical videos in portrait style.This might come in handy when watching videos from social media platforms such as TikTok or Instagram that deal primarily with vertical videos.
It sits on a stand that prevents it hitting the floor when turning, and can be paired with a phone so that it automatically orientates it correctly based on what’s beamed from the handset. According to TechRadar.com the pricing and availability are yet to be revealed, but the Sero will be leaving Korea and is headed to the US and “several global markets” later this year.
The NBA’s Highest-Paid Players 2019-20: LeBron James Scores Record $92 Million
NBA salaries have skyrocketed in recent years, but the biggest stars have earned more off the court than on it to this point in their careers. LeBron James, who tops the ranking for the 2019-2020 season, has made more than twice as much from endorsements than his $270 million in playing salary over his first 16 years. Kevin Durant’s on-court earnings of $187 million in 12 seasons is dwarfed by his current ten-year, $275 million Nike deal.
At $92 million, including salary and endorsements, James is the NBA’s highest-paid player for the sixth straight year. It is a record haul for an active basketball player. Nike is his biggest backer, and the company is naming a new research lab at its Beaverton, Oregon, corporate campus after James. Last month, the 17th iteration of his Nike signature shoe, the LeBron XVII, hit stores.
The four-time NBA MVP added a pair of endorsement deals in 2019 with Rimowa luggage and Walmart, which joined Coca-Cola, Beats By Dre, Blaze Pizza and NBA 2K in his sponsorship stable.
He also has a budding digital media company, Uninterrupted, and a production firm, SpringHill Entertainment, which will release a sequel to the 1996 Michael Jordan vehicle Space Jam in conjunction with Warner Bros. in 2021. All of the off-court work is worth an estimated $55 million for James this season.
The Los Angeles Lakers star’s comments about the NBA’s geopolitical mess in China also reveal the precarious position everyone in the league is in as political unrest in Hong Kong shows no signs of abating.
As the league’s 74th regular season tipped off Tuesday night, the NBA was still reeling from the crisis set off by a tweet from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters.
Commissioner Adam Silver backed Morey’s right to free speech, but some players didn’t, including James, who called Morey “misinformed or not really educated” on the situation. “We love China,” said Rockets point guard James Harden.
It was a rare misstep for two of the league’s more media-savvy stars, both of whom have close ties to China. Adidas, which has Harden as the face of its basketball business, generated more revenue in China last year than in North America, and the Rockets are China’s most popular team after drafting native son Yao Ming in 2002.
Nike’s China revenue topped $6 billion during the last fiscal year, and the country is a growth leader for the brand. James has represented Nike on 15 off-season trips to China. The sports giant pays James more than $30 million annually to pitch its products around the globe.
And the threat of losing its growth trajectory in China could have far-reaching consequences for team valuations.
But back at home, the financials of NBA franchises remain solid, which is good for player salaries. The league’s salary cap is soaring, fueled largely by the nine-year, $24 billion TV deal with ESPN and TNT signed in 2014.
NBA players are entitled to 51% of the league’s “basketball-related income” as laid out in the collective bargaining agreement. The rich TV deal and budding international business means 46 players will earn a playing salary of at least $25 million this season, according to Spotrac. The $25 million club had zero members five years ago. And unlike in the NFL, every dollar is guaranteed upon signing.
On-court salaries in the NBA are capped based on a player’s number of years in the league and accolades earned in cases in which an award like MVP entitles them to a bigger percentage of a team’s salary cap.
So the pecking order for the elite stars is ultimately determined by their off-court income, with the shoe deal the biggest component of those earnings. There are ten active NBA players who will make at least $10 million from their shoe contracts this year, by Forbes’ count.
Stephen Curry comes in at No. 2 on the earnings list this year and is expected to generate $85 million this season, including $45 million off the court. Under Armour represents nearly half of his off-court income.
Curry’s $40.2 million salary from the Golden State Warriors is the highest in the history of the NBA; he’s in the third season of the five-year, $201 million contract he signed in 2017. Curry’s production company, Unanimous Media, has a development deal with Sony Pictures.
Unanimous’ first movie, Breakthrough, was released in April, with Curry playing a role in marketing the Christian-oriented film, which grossed $50 million on a $14 million budget.
Durant has the NBA’s second-biggest annual shoe contract after James’ at an estimated $26 million this season. His total earnings from his playing salary and endorsements is $73 million. Nike sells more KD shoes in China than in North America, according to Durant’s business partner Rich Kleiman.
Like James and Curry, Durant has his own production company, which is co-producing a new basketball-themed drama, Swagger, that is inspired by Durant’s youth basketball experience and will air on the Apple TV+ streaming service.
The NBA’s ten highest-paid players are expected to earn a cumulative $600 million this year, including $250 million from endorsements, appearances, merchandise and media.
Lillard signed a four-year, $196 million supermax extension in July with the Portland Trail Blazers that kicks in for the 2021-2022 season. The final year is worth $54.25 million for the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year and four-time All-Star. Lillard’s Adidas shoe deal is worth roughly $10 million annually.
The “Greek Freak” is eligible for a five-year, $248 million contract extension next summer with the Milwaukee Bucks. It would be the richest deal in the history of the sport. In June, Nike unveiled the first signature shoe, Zoom Freak 1, for the 2019 NBA MVP.
Only Curry will earn more on the court this season than Paul, who was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in July. Paul was an early investor and ambassador for Beyond Meat, whose stock price has quadrupled since its initial public offering in May.
Thompson’s coach, Steve Kerr, says the sharpshooter is likely to miss the entire season after tearing his ACL during the NBA Finals in June. But he’ll still collect his full $32.7 million salary—almost double last year’s—under the first season of the five-year, $190 million pact he signed in July. Thompson is the basketball face of Chinese shoe brand Anta.
Irving joins his third team in four years this season. His four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets is worth $136 million and includes an additional $4.3 million in potential incentives. A viral Pepsi ad campaign featuring Irving as the elderly Uncle Drew eventually led to a 2018 feature film; Irving has partial ownership of the character. Irving is another Beyond Meat investor.
The 2018 NBA MVP purchased a minority stake in the Houston Dynamo of MLS this summer for $15 million. Harden also holds equity stakes in BodyArmor, Stance socks and Art of Sport. His salary with the Rockets jumps $8 million this season with the start of a contract extension he signed in 2017.
Westbrook’s five-year, $207 million contract is the largest deal in the NBA right now. The eight-time All Star extended his deal with Nike’s Jordan brand in 2017 for another ten years and in 2018 received his first signature shoe, the Why Not Zer0. Westbrook has averaged a triple-double for three straight seasons.
Durant is likely to miss the entire season recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in June during the NBA Finals. He’ll still pocket his full first-year salary from the Brooklyn Nets under the four-year, $164 million deal he signed in July. He’s invested in more than 30 startups, including Postmates and investing app Acorns.
The two-time MVP used some of his hoops money in June to buy a $31 million home in Atherton, California, with his wife, Ayesha. He also made a seven-figure donation this summer to Howard University to help launch a golf program at the school and recently signed an endorsement partnership with Callaway Golf. Curry became the only player to win the NBA MVP unanimously when he won his second of back-to-back awards in 2016.
James signed an endorsement in 2019 with Walmart that is rooted in community work. He worked with the retail giant on its Fight Hunger. Spark Change. initiative, as well as the company’s back-to-school campaign. James is part of an investment group that owns 19 Blaze Pizza franchises across Illinois and Florida.
-Forbes; Kurt Badenhausen
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