$1 billion not enough to make Forbes list of 400 richest Americans

The Associated Press
September 21, 2007

NEW YORK: A billion dollars just doesn't go as far as it used to.

For the first time, it takes more than $1 billion to earn a spot on the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans. The minimum net worth for inclusion in this year's rankings was $1.3 billion, up $300 million from last year.

The new threshold meant 82 U.S. billionaires did not make the cut. Collectively, the people on the list released late Thursday are worth $1.54 trillion, compared with $1.25 trillion last year.

The very top of the list was unchanged: Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, led for the 14th straight year, this time with a net worth estimated at $59 billion. He was followed by Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway in second place with an estimated $52 billion and Sheldon Adelson, a casino mogul, was third with an estimated worth of $28 billion.

Larry Ellison of Oracle maintained his position at No. 4, with an estimated net worth of $26 billion.

But the list showed notable changes. Joining the top 10 for the first time were the Google founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, who tied for fifth place. The wealth of both 34-year-olds has quadrupled since 2004 to an estimated $18.5 billion this year, while Google's stock value has grown 500 percent.

Lower on the list, almost half of the 45 newcomers made their millions in hedge funds and private equity investments. The youngest member of this year's list was a 33-year-old hedge fund manager, John Arnold, who joined the ranks at No. 317 with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

"Wall Street really led the charge this year," Matthew Miller, editor of the Forbes list, said. "God only knows if they'll be on it next year. It really just depends on what the market does."

Surging oil prices also helped some members of the list. Charles and David Koch, oil baron brothers, also broke into the top 10, sharing the No. 9 spot with estimated wealth of $17 billion. Their ascension bumped the Walton family, heirs to the Wal-Mart Stores fortune, from the top 10 for the first time since 1989.

Climbing 19 rungs to No. 7 was Kirk Kerkorian, who doubled his net worth to an estimated $18 billion. Rounding out the top 10 was Michael Dell of computer maker Dell, who was No. 8 with an estimated $17.2 billion.