Boss gives herself an enormous $466m payday

DENISE  Coates is richer than the prime minister of England and even Sir Richard Branson himself.

And last year, she paid herself a whopping £265 ($A466) million slice out of her company’s £525 ($A923) million profit.

According to Metro, the billionaire boss of online gambling company Bet365 was earning the equivalent of almost £726,000 ($A1.2 million) per day in 2017.

Denise Coates is one of the highest paid executives in the world.

Denise Coates is richer than Richard Branson. Picture: Alex Severn/Bet365/PA

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At 34, Akiko has jumped from job to job – Now she owns a company worth $313m

By the age of 34, Akiko Naka has already experienced more career-wise than most people do in a lifetime.

She started by getting hired by Goldman Sachs, where she worked as an equity saleswoman. When she left that job, she tried to make it as a professional manga comic artist. When that didn’t work out, she landed a job at Facebook.

And not content to leave it at that, she quit to establish her own company, a recruiting social network called Wantedly Inc. She took it public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange last year, and is one of the youngest women to head a Japanese listed company.

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This 24-year-old university dropout now runs a $6.9 billion international company

Finding clean, affordable hotels in India can be a traveller’s hideous nightmare. Too often, what looks great on a website turns out to be a disapointing roach-infested room in a crumbling old building where water has to be schlepped to the bathroom in a bucket.

Ritesh Agarwal got the idea for Oyo while travelling India on a shoestring budget and lodging at some questionable guesthouses.

Photo: Bloomberg

Ritesh Agarwal’s solution is a booking app that promises truth in advertising and branded hotels that don’t deliver unpleasant surprises. The chain he started in 2013, Oyo Hotels, has already become the largest in India, a chaotic market worth $US4.5 billion ($6.2 billion), according to New Delhi-based researcher Hotelivate.

Now Agarwal is going overseas with his franchise model, which combines a reservation site with a full stack of services for small hoteliers who want to up their game. Yesterday the company said it’s raising $US1 billion from SoftBank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital and other investors to fund expansion in countries including China, where Oyo opened in November. Last week it started service in the UK, bringing the business to a developed market for the first time.

“By 2023, we will be the world’s largest hotel chain,” the 24-year-old founder said in a recent interview at an Oyo hotel in a suburb of New Delhi, where the company is based.

“We want to convert broken, unbranded assets around the globe into better-quality living spaces.”

Makeovers

Oyo employs hundreds of staffers in the field who evaluate properties on 200 factors, from the quality of mattresses and linens to water temperature. To get a listing, along with a bright red Oyo sign to hang street-side like a seal of good-housekeeping approval, most hoteliers must agree to a makeover that typically takes around 30 days or so. Oyo then gets 25 per cent of every booking. Rooms usually run between $US25 and $US85.

Why let university interfere with my education?

Ritesh Agarwal

“Oyo is going all out to build a very large base of hotel partners and become a bona-fide brand,” said Mrigank Gutgutia, an analyst with RedSeer Management Consulting. “Their app model works well because price-conscious travellers who search by location like to feel they have lots of choices.”

Agarwal wouldn’t disclose sales nfigures, but he said the number of transactions has tripled in the last year, with 90 per cent coming from repeat travellers — and no money spent on advertising. There are now 10,000 hotels in 160 Indian cities, with in excess of 125,000 rooms, listed on the site, he said. That’s about 5 per cent of India’s total room inventory, according to RedSeer estimates.

“Over 150,000 heads rest on our pillows every night,” said Agarwal, a trim man who tugs at a sore ear as he talks. Constant airplane travel has given him an ear ache–one unwanted side effect of the company’s hyper growth.

Dirty sheets

Not everyone is happy with the Oyo experience. Payal Gupta, a recent guest, was disappointed by her stay at a place near Delhi Airport, which she said felt like a house that had been hurriedly converted into a hotel. The sheets were dirty and the bathroom was cramped. “It isn’t enough to have Oyo-branded shampoo and moisturiser,” she said.

Oyo has become India’s biggest hotel company. Photo: AP

Gutgutia, the RedSeer analyst, said the company will need a steady stream of capital and an army of people on the ground to maintain standards. “Sustaining a high-quality experience could be a real challenge,” he said.

Indian startups have been on a tear recently, with more than a dozen worth now more than $US1 billion, according to researcher CB Insights. Walmart last month paid $US16 billion for a majority stake in Flipkart, an online retailer founded in 2007.

To get a listing, along with a bright red Oyo sign to hang street-side like a seal of good-housekeeping approval, most hoteliers must agree to a makeover that typically takes about a month. Photo: Bloomberg

The funding announced yesterday by Oyo values the business at $US5 billion , according to a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be identified. That makes the startup India’s second most-valuable, after One97 Communications, owner of Paytm, a digital payments company with financial backing from Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

A college dropout in a country where university pedigree is obsessed over, Agarwal has become an unlikely business legend, with frequent appearances on televised award shows and a cover story last year in Forbes of India.

Agarwal says he never stayed at a hotel until he was picked to represent his school at a trivia competition held in a town a few hours away from home when he was 12. He got the idea for Oyo a few years later, while traveling India on a shoestring budget and lodging at some truly horrible guest houses. It wasn’t enough to aggregate hotels on a website, you also had to repair them, he realised. To learn the hotel business from the ground up, he spent a year cleaning rooms at one of them.

In 2013, he got a $US100,000 fellowship from Peter Thiel, the PayPal co-founder who subsidises students who drop out to start their own companies. The big break came in 2015, when he got $US100 million in venture funding from investors including Silicon Valley’s Sequoia Capital and Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp.

Agarwal got a $US100,000 fellowship from PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who subsidises students who drop out to start their own companies.

Photo: Bloomberg

In November, Agarwal brought the OYO business to China, starting with a single listing in the industrial city of Shenzen. Now, less than a year later, travellers in the world’s most populous country can choose from more than 1,000 Oyo-branded hotels and 87,000 rooms in over 170 Chinese cities.

For Agarwal, though, there’s still a small hitch. He says his mother keeps nagging him to take a break from the business and go back to college. “But why let university interfere with my education?” he said with a contented laugh.

Bloomberg

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Henry Sapiecha

Probably Apple will become the world’s first trillion-dollar company this year

During the dot-com-crazed 1990s, Cisco Systems became the world’s most valuable company. By many it was expected to become the first company to hit a trillion-dollar market value, it made it barely halfway there. When the technology sector peaked in March 2000, Cisco had a capitalisation close to $US550 billion.

From those glory days, the entire technology sector imploded. Cisco fared even worse than the Nasdaq, losing 87 per cent from its zenith to its nadir. Today, some 18 years later, Cisco is worth about $US221 billion ($277.7 billion); its average annual compounded returns from those lofty heights is a negative minus 2.17 per cent per year, including reinvested dividends.

The world, it seems, would have to wait a while for its first true trillion-dollar market capitalisation company.

I was discussing this with a friend earlier this week. Apple is inching toward that trillion-dollar mark (its valuation hovers around $US900 billion). Prior to the recent 12 per cent market swoon, Apple had been trading at an all-time high of $US180.10 per share. As of this week, it eclipsed that, recovering all of that February drawdown.

The trend suggests that sometime this year, Apple will become America’s first trillion-dollar company. What will drive the move to a trillion dollars?

Consider these four factors as key to Apple’s continued upward momentum:

1. Share repurchases: Since 2012, when management first announced its intentions to do big share buybacks, Apple has shrunk its outstanding publicly traded shares considerably. As of 2013, there were 6.6 billion shares available to the public. Today, that count stands at a little over 5.07 billion shares – a 23.2 per cent reduction.

Apple’s board of directors had most recently authorised a $US210 billion share-repurchase program that is expected to be completed by March 2019, according to Apple investor relations. That was before the very corporate friendly 2017 tax reform bill was passed. One would expect that bill will encourage even more share repurchases. We should not be surprised to see a 10 or even 20 per cent share count reduction over the next five years.

What is the effect of reducing share count? It makes the earnings of each share greater proportionately. At the same price, higher earnings equal a lower price-to-earnings ratio, and the company appears cheaper. This could have the impact of enticing value buyers, including…

2. Warren Buffett: The famous value investor has been notoriously tech averse throughout his career. His recent announcement that he is out of IBM and into Apple in a big way surprised a few people.

SANTA MONICA, CA – SEPTEMBER 6: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveils new Kindle reading devices at a press conference on September 6, 2012 in Santa Monica, California. Amazon unveiled the Kindle Paperwhite and the Kindle Fire HD in 7 and 8.9-inch sizes. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

Buffett said Apple is now Berkshire Hathaway’s second biggest holding (after troubled serial fraudster Wells Fargo); Apple was the stock Buffett’s investment firm bought the most of in 2017. Although he claims he still has confidence in Wells Fargo, he cut his stake last year; don’t be surprised to see Berkshire’s Wells holdings get further reduced.

Buffett’s loyal devotees often follow his lead, and are likely to add Apple to their portfolio of value stocks.

3. Index buyers: The past decade has seen indexing go from a modest niche to one of the most popular styles of investing. The explosive gains in assets under management for Vanguard ($US5 trillion) and Blackrock ($US6 trillion) attest to the power of passive investing.

Apple is the biggest company in the Standard & Poor 500, the Nasdaq 100 and the Dow Jones Industrial average — three of the best-known, most-followed indices. As such it captures the flow into index holdings, whenever markets rise. Apple accounts for almost 4 per cent of the S&P 500 (its market cap is about $US23 trillion); 4.9 per cent of the price-weighted Dow; and over a whopping 11 per cent of the Nasdaq 100 ($US7.85 trillion).

4. New products: A slew of new and upgraded products are in the making. These usually direct the next cycle in Apple’s revenue, profits and ultimately price. New services, iPhones, AirPods, wireless chargers, over-the-ear headphones and home devices could be the spark that adds the next $US100 billion in market cap.

I know, there are skeptics. There has been lots of skepticism about Apple for literally decades. The Mac site Daring Fireball has kept a running list of “claim chowder” — all of the bad reviews of iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, etc. that (incorrectly) forecasted disastrous sales. I see no reason this time is any different.

What factors could derail seeing a huge T in Apple’s market capitalisation? Two quickly to mind:

The market not falling in line: We tend to forget that the overall market and a company’s sector are responsible for about two-thirds of its gains. If tech falls out of favour, or if the overall market rolls over, it will put a trillion dollars out of reach for Apple.

Apple comes in second: The most likely challenger in the race to a trillion would be Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com. It has a market cap of $US732 billion dollars — and an infinitely higher valuation — so it has a tougher road to travel. But I would not put anything past Bezos & Co., and it would not be the first time they saw a 35 per cent gain in a year.

Cisco jinx be damned, I predict a better than 40 per cent chance that Apple’s trillion-dollar valuation will occur this year.2018.

Bloomberg

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Henry Sapiecha

How the World’s 25 Richest People Arrived at the Top of the Money Tree

In a global economy that roars continuously forward at lightning speed, fortunes can potentially be made and lost in the span of a day. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index is a daily ranking of the world’s 500 richest individuals. While many of the names in the top ten have become as iconic in their own right as the tech companies that propelled them to wealth and fame, there is always room for a few surprises. In addition to their business acumen and accomplishments, many of the men on the list are also active philanthropists. And if the thought of all that wealth feels intimidating and out of reach, consider the fact that the ten richest people on Bloomberg’s billionaire index are all self-made, many with humble and unremarkable beginnings.

Note that the specific rankings change frequently with stock price moves.

1…Jeff Bezos (Total net worth $99.6B)

Jeff Bezos has become synonymous with his company, Amazon, the online book retailer turned global e-commerce juggernaut he founded in Seattle in 1994. Mr. Bezos still runs Amazon, ranked the world’s fourth-largest information technology company by revenue. In addition to retail and tech, Amazon has also ventured into the streaming game, with a number of original shows in development.

When Amazon’s stock price surges up, Bezos edges out Bill Gates and moves into the pole position on Bloomberg’s Index.  When Amazon’s stock eases up, Bezos tends to slip into the second position.

Famous Quote:

There are two kinds of companies, those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.

– Jeff Bezos

Nationality: American

Born: January 12, 1964 (age 53) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Spouse: MacKenzie Tuttle

Children: 4

2…Bill Gates (Total net worth $89.9B)

It might come as a surprise that Bill Gates, who has dominated “world’s richest” lists for well over a decade and usually tops the index at number one, is currently is second place. But note that he’s neck-and-neck with Jeff Bezos, so depending on the day and the stock market, he still toggles between #1 and #2.

As co-founder of Microsoft, Mr. Gates still holds a 2.4 percent stake in the company, along with a portfolio of diversified assets through a number of publicly traded companies across multiple business sectors, including Canada’s biggest railroad operator. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Giving Pledge, Mr. Gates has pledged a large portion of his fortune to help solve some of the world’s most pressing public health problems.

Famous Quote:

“The PC has improved the world in just about every area you can think of. Amazing developments in communications, collaboration and efficiencies. New kinds of entertainment and social media. Access to information and the ability to give a voice people who would never have been heard of.”

– Bill Gates

Nationality: American

Born: October 28, 1955 (age 62) in Seattle, Washington, USA

Spouse: Melinda Gates

Children: 3

3…Warren Buffett (Total net worth $83.1B)

Warren “the Oracle of Omaha” Buffett’s origin story is as American as the proverbial apple pie. Known as one of the most successful and prolific investors of all time, Mr. Buffett famously began his professional career as a paperboy and rode an enviable work ethic all the way to the top of the finance world, culminating with his holding company, Berkshire Hathaway. Fun fact: Berkshire Hathaway was originally a textile manufacturer, which eventually came to be the umbrella for 60+ companies under management.

Famous Quote:

“We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.”

– Warren Buffett

Nationality: American

Born: August 30, 1930 (age 87), in Omaha, NE, USA

Spouse: Astrid Menks

Children: 3

4…Amancio Ortega (Total net worth $76.2B)

The tech sector may account for the largest slice of the pie, but the third richest billionaire in the world and number one in Europe is the head of retail giant Inditex Ventures, most famous for the Zara fast-fashion clothing chain. A quintessential “rags-to-riches” success story, Amancio Ortega rose from a humble working class background in Spain to run a multinational retail empire, where he continues to work to this day at the age of 80.

Famous Quote:

“In the street, I only want to be recognised by my family, my friends and people I work with.”

– Amancio Ortega

Nationality: Spanish

Born: 28 March 1936 (age 81) in Busdongo de Arbás, León, Spain

Spouse: Flora Pérez Marcote

Children: 3

5…Mark Zuckerberg (Total net worth $73.1B)

Like most of the famous tech entrepreneurs on the list, Mark Zuckerberg needs no introduction. Like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg famously left Harvard early to work on the social network that would come to change the world and influence everything from politics and media to interpersonal communications. As co-founder and current Chairman and CEO of Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg is the youngest member of the list.

Famous Quote:

“The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better, and that nothing is ever complete.”

– Mark Zuckerberg

Nationality: American

Born: May 14, 1984 (age 33) in White Plains, New York, USA

Spouse: Priscilla Chan

Children: 2

6…Carlos Slim (Total net worth $62.1B)

Best known for his stake in Latin American telecom company America Movil, Carlos Slim also has holdings in a number of international companies across various sectors in Mexico, as well as recognizable American companies like The New York Times and Philip Morris.

Famous Quote:

“The better off you are, the more responsibility you have for helping others. Just as it’s important to run companies well, with a close eye to the bottom line, you have to use your entrepreneurial experience to make corporate philanthropy effective.”

– Carlos Slim

Nationality: Mexican

Born: January 28, 1940 (age 77) in Mexico City, Mexico

Spouse: Soumaya Domit

Children: 5

7…Bernard Arnault (Total net worth $61.6B)

The other European on the list also made his fortune in the retail sector. As chairman of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Bernard Arnault controls the world’s biggest luxury goods house, which in addition to the beloved Louis Vuitton brand also includes high profile brands like Tag Heuer and Dom Perignon champagne.

Famous Quote:

“If you deeply appreciate and love what creative people do and how they think, which is usually in unpredictable and irrational ways, then you can start to understand them. And finally, you can see inside their minds and DNA.”

– Bernard Arnault

Nationality: French

Born: 5 March 1949 (age 68) in Roubaix, France

Spouse: Hélène Mercier

Children: 5

8…Larry Ellison (Total net worth $54.4B)

Larry Ellison made his name (and fortune) as the founder of legendary database company Oracle. While his roughly 25 percent stake in Oracle may account for a large portion of his wealth, Mr. Ellison also holds a diversified portfolio with investments across a number of industries, namely real estate and professional sports (including a sailing team and the tennis tournament at Indian Wells in California).

Famous Quote:

“There’s a wonderful saying that’s dead wrong. ‘Why did you climb the mountain?’ ‘I climbed the mountain because it was there.’ That’s utter nonsense…You climbed the mountain because you were there, and you were curious if you could do it. You wondered what it would be like.”

– Larry Ellison

Nationality: American

Born: August 17, 1944 (age 73) in Manhattan, New York, U.S.

Spouse: NA (multiple divorces)

Children: 2

9…Larry Page (Total net worth $51.5B)

With his partner Sergey Brin (no. 10), Larry Page claimed his place in history and helped to change the world as the co-founder of Google. As CEO of Google’s holding company (Alphabet), Larry Page controls the world’s largest search engine operator.

Famous Quote:

“For a lot of companies, it’s useful for them to feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that. I personally believe it’s better to shoot higher. You don’t want to be looking at your competitors. You want to be looking at what’s possible and how to make the world better”

– Larry Page

Nationality: American

Born: March 26, 1973 (age 44) in East Lansing, Michigan, USA

Spouse: Lucinda Page

Children: 2

10…Ingvar Kamprad (Total net worth $50.6B)

Claim to Fame: He’s the founder of IKEA, a Swedish retail company specialising in furniture.

Famous Quote:

“Happiness is not reaching your goal. Happiness is being on the way.”

– Ingvar Kamprad

Nationality: Swedish

Born: March 30, 1926 (age 91) in Pjätteryd, Sweden

Spouse: Kerstin Wadling

Children: 4

11…Sergey Brin (Total net worth $50.2B)

As co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin is a member of the elite group of tech titans that got their start in a San Francisco area garage. President of Alphabet, Mr. Brin has also had a hand in Google’s innovative offshoot Google X, where the company’s many geniuses are hard at work on various “moon shots,” working to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. In addition to his role in inventions like Google Glass, Sergey Brin went a little off-brand in 2007 to executive produce the movie “Broken Arrow” with his co-founder Larry Page.

Famous Quote:

“Obviously, everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world.”

– Sergey Brin

Nationality: American (Soviet until 1979)

Born: August 21, 1973 (age 44) in Moscow, Soviet Union

Spouse: Anne Wojcicki

Children: 2

12…David H. Koch (Total net worth $47.8B)

Claim to Fame: He and his brother Charles are major donors to political advocacy groups and campaigns, almost entirely Republican.

Famous Quote:

“I’m basically a libertarian, and I’m a conservative on economic matters, and I’m a social liberal.”

– David Koch

Nationality: American

Born: May 3, 1940 (age 77) in Wichita, Kansas.

Spouse: Julia Flesher

Children: 3

13…Charles Koch (Total net worth $47.8B)

Claim to Fame: He and his brother David are major donors to political advocacy groups and campaigns, almost entirely Republican.

Famous Quote:

“The role of business in society is to help people improve their lives by providing products and services they value more highly than their alternatives, and to do so while consuming fewer resources.”

– Charles Koch

Nationality: American

Born: November 1, 1935 (age 82) in Wichita, Kansas.

Spouse: Liz Koch

Children: 2


14…S. Rob Walton (Total net worth $46.2B)

Claim to Fame: Rob served as Chairman of Walmart from 1992 to 2015.

Famous Quote:

“I learned from my dad that change and experimentation are constants and important. You have to keep trying new things.”

– Rob Walton

Nationality: American

Born: October 28, 1944 (age 73) in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Spouse: Carolyn Funk (divorced)

Children: 3

15…Jack Ma (Total net worth $46.2B)

Claim to Fame: Jack is the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group.

Famous Quote:

“I don’t want to be liked. I want to be respected.”

– Jack Ma

Nationality: Chinese

Born: September 10, 1964 (age 53) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China.

Spouse: Cathy Zh?ng Y?ng

Children: 2

16…Jim Walton (Total net worth $45.6B)

Claim to Fame: Jim is the youngest son of Sam Walton, the founder of the world’s largest retailer, Walmart.

Nationality: American

Born: June 7, 1948 (age 69) in Newport, Arkansas.

Spouse: Lynne McNabb

Children: 4

17…Alice Walton (Total net worth $44.9B)

Claim to Fame: Alice is the wealthiest woman in the world!  She is the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

Famous Quote:

“One of the great responsibilities that I have is to manage my assets wisely, so that they create value.”

– Alice Walton

Nationality: American

Born: October 7, 1949 (age 68) in Newport, Arkansas

Spouse: Divorced

18…Francoise Bettencourt Meyers (Total net worth $44.3B)

Claim to Fame: Francoise is a board member of L’Oréal

Nationality: French

Born: June 7, 1948 (age 69) in Newport, Arkansas.

Spouse: Jean-Pierre Meyers

Children: 2

19…Pony Ma (Total net worth $40.2B)

Claim to Fame: Pony Ma is the founder, chairman and CEO of Tencent.

Famous Quote:

“The leader of the market today may not necessarily be the leader tomorrow. ”

– Pony Ma

Nationality: Chinese

Born: October 29, 1971 (age 46) in Chaoyang District, Shantou, Guangdong, China.

20…Mukesh Ambani (Total net worth $39.8B)

Claim to Fame: Mukesh refines petrochemicals.  He also owns the Indian Premier League franchise the Mumbai Indians.

Famous Quote:

“It is important to achieve our goals, but not at any cost.”

– Mukesh Ambani

Nationality: Indian

Born: April 19, 1957 (age 60) in Aden, Colony of Aden

Spouse: Nita Ambani

Children: 3

21…Sheldon Adelson (Total net worth $35.5B)

Claim to Fame: Sheldon is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

Famous Quote:

“Achievement is the motivation of entrepreneurs.”

– Sheldon Adelson

Nationality: American

Born: August 4, 1933 (age 84) in Boston, Massachusetts.

Spouse: Miriam Ochsorn

Children: 5

22…Hui Ka Yan (Total net worth $34.5B)

Claim to Fame: Hui Ka Yan is the Founder and Chairman of the Evergrande Real Estate Group

Nationality: Chinese

Born: 1958 in Taikang County, Zhoukou, Henan, China.

Children: 2

23…Steve Balmer (Total net worth $34.2B)

Claim to Fame: Steve was the CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014, and is now the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.

Famous Quote:

“I loved every minute of my time at Microsoft, but I had always envisioned having another phase of life just because I thought that would be interesting. It had never been my plan to work until I literally didn’t want to do anything and then hang it up.”

– Steve Balmer

Nationality: American

Born: March 24, 1956 (age 61) in Detroit, Michigan.

Spouse: Connie Snyder

Children: 3

24…Li Ka-Shing (Total net worth $33.7B)

Claim to Fame: He’s now one of Asia’s most generous philanthropists.

Nationality: Chinese

Born: July 29, 1928 (age 89) in Chaozhou, Guangdong, China.

Spouse: Chong Yuet Ming

Children: 2

25…Jacqueline Mars (Total net worth $33.4B)

Claim to Fame: Heiress and granddaughter of the founder of the American candy company Mars, Incorporated.

Nationality: American

Born: October 10, 1939 (age 78)

Children: 3

Henry Sapiecha

 

Almost unknown start-up Meituan Dianping smashed into a $30 billion valuation

China’s Meituan Dianping just became the world’s fourth-most valuable start-up, reaching a $US30 billion ($38 billion) valuation that puts it ahead of high-fliers like Airbnb and Space X.

Never heard of Meituan? You’re not alone. The Beijing-based company, led by Wang Xing, is almost unknown beyond its home country. It delivers food to people’s homes, sells groceries and movie tickets, provides reviews of restaurants, and markets discounts to consumers who buy in groups. It’s a sort of mashup of Groupon, Yelp, Foodpanda and Uber Eats.

Meituan’s appeal for investors is its dominant position in a market of more than a billion people. It was formed through the 2015 merger of Meituan.com and Dianping.com, creating the leading player for internet-based services ordered via smartphone apps. It raised $4 billion in the latest round from Tencent Holdings, Sequoia Capital and US travel giant Priceline Group.

“It’s a quasi-monopoly built on the stomachs of 1.4 billion people,” said Keith Pogson, global assurance leader for banking and capital markets in Hong Kong at consultant EY.

Flipping smart $4 billion funding round by Meituan

Wang started Meituan.com in 2010 as a group-buying site similar to Groupon, where people can get discounts by buying electronics or restaurant meals together. Dianping was founded in 2003 in Shanghai with reviews of restaurants and other local businesses, then diversified into group discounts. The companies were valued at $US15 billion when they merged two years ago.

Meituan Dianping delivers food to peoples homes

www.foodpassions.net

The combined companies have far surpassed their US peers. Chicago-based Groupon, once a sensation in the US, has dropped to a market value of less than $US3 billion. Yelp, based in San Francisco, has tumbled from its peak in 2014 to $US3.6 billion.

Meituan Dianping has expanded well beyond its original businesses. With a few taps to navigate its smartphone apps, Chinese customers can order hot meals, groceries, massages, haircuts and manicures at home or in the office. One popular service offers the ability to have your car washed while you’re at work and it’s parked on the street – the service sends a photo to your phone to verify the job. Meituan says it now has 280 million annual active users and works with 5 million merchants.

The offerings, collectively known as online-to-offline or O2O services, may ultimately prove more successful in China than in the US. Labor costs are lower in China, cities are more densely populated and there are more people. The country’s O2O market surged 72 per cent to 762 billion yuan ($US115 billion) last year, according to estimates from consultant IResearch.

“China’s market is big enough for a company this size,” said Wang Ling, an analyst with IResearch. “After years of consolidation, Meituan is one of the few contenders in areas with gigantic revenue.”

Meituan is facing increasingly stiff competition from China’s technology giants and their proxies. In particular, Alibaba Group Holding has backed a rival service called Ele.me, which recently acquired Baidu’s business, Waimai. Alibaba, Tencent’s primary rival, is boosting its investment to bankroll expansions into more cities and businesses.

“Meituan faces so many competitors because of its wide range of business,” said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Centre in Hangzhou. “Lifestyle e-commerce, which includes online travel and dining reservations, is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country.”

Travel is becoming the latest competitive ground. With the recent fundraising, Meituan plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars over the next three to five years to become a leading travel booking site. It’s also exploring opportunities to collaborate with Priceline as part of the investment. That may present a challenge to China’s biggest online travel site, Ctrip.com International, which is backed by Baidu. Ctrip shares fell 8.2 per cent in US trading.

It’s a quasi-monopoly built on the stomachs of 1.4 billion people.

 

China’s tech titans take their battle to a new frontier

In the latest funding, Meituan also received money from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Trustbridge Partners, Tiger Global Management, Coatue Management and the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC. Meituan said it would use the cash to expand in artificial intelligence and drone-delivery technology.

Meituan is one of the new generation of Chinese technology companies that has rapidly gained popularity thanks to the rise of smartphones. Where Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have come to be collectively known as BAT, new media upstart Jinri Toutiao, Meituan Dianping and ride-sharing king Didi Chuxing have now earned their own acronym: TMD.

The $30 billion financing ranks the company fourth in the world in start-up valuations, according to CB Insights. The first three are Uber Technologies, Didi and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.

EY’s Pogson however cautioned that valuations in China may be getting a bit overheated. Shares of private companies like Meituan and Uber aren’t traded in liquid markets every day, so valuations change only rarely and typically go up. In addition, many of the fundraisings in China and the US are done with ratchets, or protections so that investors get compensation if the valuations fall later on.

“You have to take these numbers with a grain of salt,” he says.

Bloomberg L.P.

Henry Sapiecha

Jack Ma Asia’s richest man has his net worth soar US$2.8b in a day

Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Jan 18, 2017.

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – Mr Jack Ma’s net worth surged US$2.8 billion (S$3.87 billion) overnight as Alibaba Group Holding forecast sales growth that topped every analyst’s estimate, despite China’s decelerating economy.

Mr Ma, 52, is now the richest person in Asia and 14th wealthiest in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His net worth has climbed US$8.5 billion this year to US$41.8 billion.

The latest surge came after China’s largest e-commerce company forecast 45 per cent to 49 per cent revenue growth in the year ending March, demonstrating how investments beyond online shopping are paying off. Shares in Alibaba, where Mr Ma is chairman, rose 13 per cent to a record high

Alibaba and Tencent Holdings – which dominate online shopping and social media, respectively – have ventured further into new areas, from cloud computing services to streaming music and video, as the country’s economy slows. Alibaba is capturing more digital advertising spending by incorporating social elements such as video in its shopping sites.

Alibaba is holding meetings with investors this week. Mr Ma is scheduled to appear on Friday (June 9) to discuss the company’s initiatives.

Henry Sapiecha

19 billionaires who were once very dirt poor

The “rags-to-riches” trope may be a cliché, but it’s one that’s definitely grounded in reality. Through extraordinary grit and perseverance, individuals across many nations have beaten the odds and achieved their own rags-to-riches stories.

Here are 19 people who started off life poor and went on to become billionaires.

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1. Howard SchultzStarbucks' Howard Schultz image www.profitcentre.net

Starbucks’ Howard Schultz, now worth $US2.9 billion ($3.8 billion), grew up in a housing complex for the poor

Starbucks’ Howard Schultz grew up in a housing complex for the poor.

Net worth: $US2.9 billion ($3.8 billion)

In an interview with the Mirror, Schultz says: “Growing up I always felt like I was living on the other side of the tracks.

“I knew the people on the other side had more resources, more money, happier families. And for some reason, I don’t know why or how, I wanted to climb over that fence and achieve something beyond what people were saying was possible.

“I may have a suit and tie on now, but I know where I’m from and I know what it’s like.”

Schultz ended up winning a football scholarship to the University of Northern Michigan and went to work for Xerox after graduation. Shortly after, he took over a coffee shop called Starbucks, which at the time had only 60 shops.

Schultz became the company’s CEO in 1987 and grew the coffee chain to more than 16,000 outlets worldwide.

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2. Oprah Winfrey

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Born into poverty, Oprah Winfrey became the first African American TV correspondent in Nashville. Photo: Don Arnold

Net worth: $US2.9 billion

Winfrey was born into a poor family in Mississippi, but this didn’t stop her from winning a scholarship to Tennessee State University and becoming the first African American TV correspondent in the state at the age of 19.

In 1983, Winfrey moved to Chicago to work for an AM talk show which would later be called The Oprah Winfrey Show.

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3. Mohed Altrad

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Montpellier rugby club president and Entrepreneur of the Year Mohed Altrad survived on one meal a day when he moved to France.

Net worth: $US1.03 billion

Born into a nomadic tribe in the Syrian dessert to a poor mother who was raped by his father and died when he was young, Altrad was raised by his grandmother. She banned him from attending school in Raqqa, the city that is now the capital of ISIS.

Altrad attended school anyway. When he moved to France to attend university he knew no French and lived off of one meal a day.

Still, he earned a PhD in computer science, worked for some leading French companies and eventually bought a failing scaffolding company, which he transformed into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of scaffolding and cement mixers, Altrad Group.

He has previously been named French Entrepreneur of the Year and World Entrepreneur of the Year.

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4. Kenny Troutt

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Kenny Troutt, the founder of Excel Communications, paid his way through college by selling life insurance.

Net worth: $US1.41 billion

Troutt grew up with a bartender dad and paid for his own tuition at Southern Illinois University by selling life insurance.

He made most of his money from phone company Excel Communications, which he founded in 1988 and took public in 1996. Two years later, Troutt merged his company with Teleglobe in a $US3.5 billion deal.

He’s now retired and invests heavily in racehorses.

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5. Roman Abramovich

Russian billionaire and owner of Chelsea football club Roman Abramovich image www.profitcentre.net

Russian business tycoon and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich was born into poverty and orphaned at age two.

Net worth: $US8.4 billion

Abramovich was born into poverty in southern Russia. After being orphaned at age two, he was raised by an uncle and his family in a subarctic region of northern Russia.

While a student at the Moscow Auto Transport Institute in 1987, he started a small company producing plastic toys, which helped him eventually found an oil business and make a name for himself within the oil industry.

Later, as sole leader of the Sibneft company, he completed a merger that made it the fourth biggest oil company in the world. The company was sold to state-run gas titan Gazprom in 2005 for for $US13 billion.

He acquired the Chelsea Football Club in 2003 and owns the world’s largest yacht, which cost him almost $US400 million in 2010.

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6. Ken Langone

Kenneth Langone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, NYU Langone Medical Center, helps SIRIUS Satellite Radio and the NYU Langone Medical Center launch the 'Doctor Radio' channel, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in New York. 'Doctor Radio' is a national radio channel hosted by physicians from a new studio at the NYU Langone Medical Center and will feature daily shows and reports on general health, plastic surgery, psychiatry, weight loss, pregnancy, pediatrics and much more. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

Kenneth Langone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, NYU Langone Medical Center, helps SIRIUS Satellite Radio and the NYU Langone Medical Center launch the ‘Doctor Radio’ channel, Tuesday, June 17, 2008, in New York. ‘Doctor Radio’ is a national radio channel hosted by physicians from a new studio at the NYU Langone Medical Center and will feature daily shows and reports on general health, plastic surgery, psychiatry, weight loss, pregnancy, pediatrics and much more. (AP Photo/Diane Bondareff)

Investor Ken Langone’s parents worked as a plumber and cafeteria worker.

Net worth: $US2.8 billion

To help pay for Langone’s school at Bucknell University, he worked odd jobs and his parents mortgaged their home.

In 1968, Langone worked with Ross Perot to take Electronic Data Systems public. (It was later acquired by HP.) Just two years later, he partnered with Bernard Marcus to start Home Depot, which also went public in 1981.

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7. John Paul DeJoria

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John Paul DeJoria, the man behind a hair-care empire and Patron Tequila, once lived in a foster home and his car.

Net worth: $US3.1 billion

Before the age of 10, DeJoria, a first generation American, sold Christmas cards and newspapers to help support his family. He was eventually sent to live in a foster home and even spent some time in a gang before joining the military.

With a $US700 loan, DeJoria created John Paul Mitchell Systems and sold the shampoo door-to-door while living in his car. He later started Patron Tequila and now invests in other industries.

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8. Shahid Khan

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At one time, businessman Shahid Khan washed dishes for $US1.20 an hour.

Net worth: $US6.7 billion

He’s now one of the richest people in the world, but when Khan came to the US from Pakistan, he worked as a dishwasher while attending the University of Illinois.

Khan now owns Flex-N-Gate, one of the largest private companies in the US, the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, and Premier League soccer club Fulham.

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9. Do Won Chang

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Forever 21 founder Do Won Chang worked as a janitor, gas station attendant, and in a coffee shop when he first moved to America.

Net worth: $US2.8 billion

The husband-and-wife team — Do Won Chang and Jin Sook — behind Forever 21 didn’t always have it so easy. After moving to America from Korea in 1981, Do Won had to work three jobs at the same time to make ends meet. They opened their first clothing store in 1984.

Forever 21 is now an international, 480-store empire that rakes in about $US3 billion in sales a year

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10. Ralph Lauren

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Ralph Lauren was once a clerk at Brooks Brothers.

Net worth: $US5.8 billion

Lauren graduated high school in the Bronx, New York, but later dropped out of college to join the army.

It was while working as a clerk at Brooks Brothers that Lauren questioned whether men were ready for wider and brighter designs in ties. The year he decided to make his dream a reality, 1967, Lauren sold $US500,000 of ties. He started Polo the next year.

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11. Lakshmi Mittal

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Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal came from modest beginnings in India.

Net worth: $US13.3 billion

A 2009 BBC article says the ArcelorMittal CEO and chairman, who was born in 1950 to a poor family in the Indian state of Rajasthan, “established the foundations of his fortune over two decades by doing much of his business in the steel industry equivalent of a discount warehouse”.

Today, Mittal runs the world’s largest steel-making company and is a multibillionaire.

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12. Francois Pinault

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Luxury goods mogul Francois Pinault quit high school in 1974 after being bullied for being poor.

Net worth: $US14.6 billion

Pinault is now the face of fashion conglomerate Kering (formerly PPR), but at one time, he had to quit high school because he was teased so harshly for being poor.

As a businessman, Pinault is known for his “predator” tactic, which includes buying smaller firms for a fraction of the cost when the market crashes. He eventually started PPR, which owns high-end fashion houses including Gucci, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and Yves Saint Laurent.

Today, he owns Christie’s, the world’s top art business.

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13. Leonardo Del Vecchio

Leonardo Del Vecchio, now worth $US16.4 billion image www.profitcentre.net

Leonardo Del Vecchio grew up in an orphanage and later worked in a factory where he lost part of his finger.

Net worth: $US16.4 billion

Del Vecchio was one of five children who was eventually sent to an orphanage because his widowed mother couldn’t care for him. He would later work in a factory making moulds of car parts and eyeglass frames.

At the age of 23, Del Vecchio opened his own molding shop, which expanded to become the world’s largest maker of sunglasses and prescription eyewear with brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley.

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14. George Soros

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Legendary trader George Soros survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary and arrived in London as an impoverished college student.

Net worth: $US24.9 billion

In his early teens, Soros posed as the godson of an employee of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture to stay safe from the Nazi occupation of Hungary.

In 1947, Soros escaped the country to live with his relatives in London. He put himself through the London School of Economics working as a waiter and railway porter.

After graduating, Soros worked at a souvenir shop before getting a job as a banker in New York City. In 1992, his famous bet against the British pound made him a billion dollars.

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15. Li Ka-shing

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After his father died, business magnate Li Ka-shing had to quit school to help support his family.

Net worth: $US31.1 billion

Ka-shing fled mainland China for Hong Kong in the 1940s, but his father died when he was 15, leaving Ka-shing responsible for supporting his family.

In 1950, he started his own company, Cheung Kong Industries, which made plastics at first, but would later expand into real estate.

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16. Sheldon Adelson

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College dropout Sheldon Adelson grew up sleeping on the floor of a Boston tenement house.

Net worth: $US31.2 billion

Adelson, the son of a cab driver, grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and began selling newspapers at the age of 12, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

Forbes profile of the billionaire says years later, after dropping out of the City College of New York, Adelson “built a fortune running vending machines, selling newspaper ads, helping small businesses go public, developing condos and hosting trade shows”.

Adelson lost almost all of his money in the Great Recession, but he earned much of it back in the following years. He now runs Las Vegas Sands, the largest casino company in the world, and is considered the most high-profile political donor in America, says Forbes.

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17. Larry Ellison

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Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison dropped out of college after his adoptive mother died. He held odd jobs for eight years.

Net worth: $US48.2 billion

Born in Brooklyn, New York, to a single mother, Ellison was raised by his aunt and uncle in Chicago.

After his aunt died, Ellison dropped out of college and moved to California to work odd jobs for the next eight years. He founded software development company Oracle in 1977, which is now one of the largest technology companies in the world.

Last September he announced his plans to step down as Oracle’s CEO to become CTO and executive chairman.

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18. Guy Laliberté

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Guy Laliberté was a fire-eater before founding Cirque du Soleil.

Net worth: $US1.33 billion

At the beginning of his career, Laliberté had fire in his belly — literally. The Canadian-born circus busker played the accordion, walked on stilts, and ate fire.

Later on, as Business Insider previously reported, he took a chance and flew a troupe from Quebec to Los Angeles without buying a return fair. The circus troup travelled to Las Vegas and became Cirque du Soleil.

Laliberté is now the CEO of Cirque de Soleil.

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19. Jan Koum

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WhatsApp founder Jan Koum emigrated to WhatsApp.

Net worth: $US8.8 billion

Koum was born in Kyiv, Ukraine. At the age of 16, he accompanied his mother to California, where they secured an apartment through government assistance. To survive, he swept floors at a local store.

According to The Independent, Koum taught himself computer skills.

In 2009, he co-founded the world’s largest mobile messaging service WhatsApp, which was bought by Facebook for $US22 billion in 2014.

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Henry Sapiecha

 

20 Self-Made Teenage Millionaires Video Stories

From a 14 year old boy selling homemade jam to a university student that came up with a popular computer game you may have heard of called RuneScape, We count 20 Self-Made Teenage Millionaires

Money start ups which made the owners a fortune

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Henry Sapiecha