Visualizing the net worth of the world's richest people

"Bloomberg Billionaires" is an intriguing example of information design. The net wealth of the world's 100 most rich human beings, in an interactive display.


  1. Net worth is immeasurable. Net wealth often depends on what someone can steal, rarely on what someone can contribute. Using net worth to mean net wealth is, well, a bit misleading. It’s like using the Great to mean the Bloody Conqueror.

    1. Oh good I wasn’t the only one who noticed and wondered that. He should be ~20th on the overall list if the wikipedia number is correct. 

    1. It seems this only has the top 100 billionaires in the world. #100 has 10.7billion, so Oprah’s ~3billion doesn’t crack the list. So no self-made female billionaires in the top 100 of the world.

  2. Consider it a to-do list if they do manage to lead us into some from of climate or other apocalypse.  

  3. Why couldn’t they manage to find photos of everyone? Google image search turns up dozens of photos, many useable. And these aren’t even photos anyway, just little cartoons. Fire the artist for falling behind?

  4. A list of people who could really make a difference, but choose personal wealth instead. Depressing. What a broken world we live in.

    1. Do you think Gates’ and Buffet’s charitable and borderline populist pronouncements are pure PR?  I’m not trying to say it’s obvious one way or the other, I’m honestly curious what other people think.  In some ways I’d rather Gates spent his money counteracting the Kochs’ cultural influence but it’s hard to argue with AIDS relief for Africa.

      1. And trying to privatize public schools, promote vouchers, break public unions, and demonize teachers in conjunction with their friend up there Alice Walton, but yeah the other genuinely charitable stuff The Gate’s do is pretty good at obscuring some of their more weaselly activities.

        Can’t really say much about Buffet. He seems pretty benign, and maybe genuinely wants to do some kind of good, which for an American oligarch is like being a saint.

        Also, it’s funny that with the exception (maybe) of Buffet that every American oligarch up there is VERY active in trying to corrupt, and undermine democracy in order to extract even more wealth from Americans.

        *edit*. Despite being BFF’s with Larry Summers, and loads of political giving, I guess Ellison is pretty harmless, at least in comparison to the others in this rogue’s gallery.

      2. As someone who has worked in the software biz, there’s a certain kind of “any problem can be solved” mentality that you get when you work in this field. Its one of the reasons I won’t go into programming – I work with programmers, I can program, but I won’t actually program for a living – because coding all day makes you see everything as a problem to be solved. I, personally, end up being hyper rational in my day to day life when I program a lot. So, I avoid it because I don’t like being like that all the time and I can’t turn it off when I leave work. I am already like that a lot. People don’t really cozy up to someone so cooly rational; you seem like you are ignoring their feelings and over-thinking everything.

        I think that Gates is looking at these big, seemingly insolvable issues and saying, if we were to take a programmer’s approach and we were to have enough money to try a bunch of ideas out, we could solve these problems.

        1.  Heh, working in software gives me the opposite — having seen what can go wrong with even the most trivial interventions into a piece of production software I have more of a “nothing ever works except by accident” mentality.

          My impression of Gates is a little different from yours.  It seems to me that with the amount of money he has he could approach some smaller problems and solve them outright instead of straining at really big ones.

          Though on second thought that approach is consistent with Microsoft philosophy — never take responsibility for a problem you could actually solve.

  5. Real question. What would happen if one of them went to the bank and asked to make a withdrawal of, let’s say, $5 million. How long would it take for the cash to be delivered and how would they do it?

    1. Real answer: they would never go to the bank.  They would call their accountant, the accountant would trade in the least promising $5 million in investment assets owned by that person, and someone else would drive it directly to their door — or wherever else they might want it to go.

      Edit: Actually, they would probably tell their personal assistants to call their accountants.

    1. I was wondering about Putin as well.  I think the answer is “shhhh, he doesn’t officially own/control those things.”

  6. Most of those billionaries are white.  Some are brown and some are olive-skinned.  Yet all are depicted as a whiter shade of pale.  As usual, the ‘news’ does not like to muck up their stories with inconvenient facts.

  7. According to the report, the combined income of the world’s 100 richest persons in 2012 — roughly $240 billion — would be enough to end global poverty four times over. With the wealthiest 1% having seen a 60 percent earnings increase in the last 20 years despite major international financial crises, Oxfam calls for a “Global New Deal” that would curb this trend through measures such as comprehensive employment laws and closing tax havens.

    100 Richest People Could End Poverty, Says Oxfam Report

    1. This is what I was thinking about. The incredible things that are possible with that amount of cash. Immediately. Or would be possible, if the richest 100 weren’t so concerned about their position on a stupid, meaningless list.

    2. Yeah, apparently asking someone to give away something they already have but don’t need is unfair.  Telling someone they can’t have something they do need but haven’t been able to get before is totally ok though!

  8. When I was a kid my mother used to tell me that if you have a million dollars, and you spend a thousand dollars-a-day, you’d run out of money in three years. If you have a billion however, and you spend a thousand-a-day, it will take you almost three thousand years.

    Obviously it’s a little off but I always think of that whenever I’m reading about billionaires.

    Many of these people could spend one-thousand-dollars-a-day for a longer period of time than humans have existed.

      1. Yeah, I guess when you think about it, even poor old Zuckerberg could only keep a $10,000-a-day habit going for a paltry eighteen-thousand years. (If he stopped making money entirely that is.)

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