Youngest Richest Internet Entrepreneurs
One of the most amazing things about the internet is that it can really level the playing field when it comes to business. You no longer need a large investment to get started, you can get by, as some have on this list, on just a few hundred dollars. It still takes a brilliant mind to reach the level of success that the people on this list have achieved, especially at such a young age, but the internet has given them the opportunity in a way that wasn’t possible in the generation before them. To count as young on this list, you have to be aged 30 or under; here is it.
Mark Zuckerberg – 27 – $17,500,000,000 – Facebook
Mark is the most public face of Facebook, which currently hosts over 750 million active users, with 500 million of those accessing the site daily. His personal wealth has skyrocketed in the past few years as Facebook has torn through the competition such as Myspace, and taken its place as the number 1 social network in the world. With the release of ‘The Social Network’ in recent years, it’s hard to not know who Mark is. And if you have seen that film, then you’ll know that getting to the top, wasn’t such a clean and easy ride. Mark faced multiple lawsuits from people who say ripped off his idea, and a disgruntled business partner who was ripped off after an investment. You can make up your own mind about Mark, either from what you’ve learned about him over the years, or from the film, but there’s no denying that Facebook wouldn’t have existed without him, certainly not to the capacity it’s at today. I should think that at least 90% of the people reading this have a profile, and perhaps even a fan page, so it’s no wonder that Mark’s made it to the top of this list.
Andrew Mason – 30 – $4,750,000,000 – Groupon
Andrew actually has a degree in music, but chose to go into web design, where he would meet his first investor, which eventually led to Groupon. Founded in November 2008, the site has experienced rapid growth, and huge revenues from taking 50% of every sale made through the site. There have been plenty of imitators since, but Groupon still remains on top, even turning down a $6 billion dollar acquisition bid from Google at the end of 2010. Google has a habit for offering to buy companies out before creating their own, sometimes more powerful and successful imitator, so who knows what may be in store for Groupon. Over the past few months, I’ve personally started to see less location targeted products in Groupon, and the quality of items has also gone down in my opinion, so whether Groupon will stand the test of time is unknown. What we do know though is that $6 billion is a lot of money to make in just over 2 years.
Dustin Moskovitz – 27 – $3,500,000,000 – Facebook
Dustin is just 8 days younger than Mark Zuckerberg, making him the youngest billionaire in the world. Dustin founded the site with Mark back at Harvard and holds on to a 6% stake of the company, which has made him incredibly rich, in fact, in the past year alone, Forbes has estimated his worth to have more than doubled. He left Facebook in 2008 to work on his own ventures, such as a mobile photo-sharing site, called Path, which has already turned down a $100 million offer from Google. His new company Asana, is a web application designed to streamline business communication and facilitate workplace efficiency, and in his own words, “will be to your work life what Facebook.com is to your social life.” I for one am looking forward to seeing what the future has in store for Dustin.
Eduardo Saverin – 29 – $2,000,000,000 – Facebook
You might start to notice a bit of a recurring theme here, as Eduardo Saverin is yet another person who got rich through Facebook, from his 5% stake in the company that he got when he went to Harvard with Mark Zuckerberg. If you’ve seen The Social Network, you’ll know that their relationship went sour, and that Eduardo actually used to own a third of the company, before it went down to 30% when Dustin Moskovitz came aboard. After some disputes between Mark and Eduardo about how the company was going to move forward, and whether Eduardo was going to remain as part of the Facebook team, he got pushed out the company when a group of investors, including Peter Thiel from PayPal, got onboard. After a series of legal disputes, Eduardo finally got his stake pushed back up to 5%, and even from such a small stake, he’s worth an incredible amount of money.
Drew Houston – 28 – $600,000,000 – Dropbox
Drew is just 28 years old and the founder of Dropbox, an online storage and backup system, which he started back in 2008. By december of 2010, Dropbox holds 10.41% of the worldwide Backup Client market, based on the number of installations that the client has received. Drew knew that he had a very big product, when Steve Jobs (Drew’s personal hero) chose to meet with him personally, to tell him that he liked the product and was interested in buying it for Apple. A nine digit price was banded about, but Drew turned it down, wanting to a part of something much bigger. The company has recently been valued at $4 billion, and it’s currently one of the fastest growing companies on the internet, so for now at least, Drew doesn’t have too much to worry about. Or at least, he didn’t. With the launch of Apple’s iCloud, who knows what’s in store for the future of online backup.
Chris Hughes – 27 – $500,000,000 – Facebook
Chris Hughes is the forth roommate to Mark, Eduardo and Dustin, from when they were back at Harvard, and that was how he got involved with Facebook. As well as a co-founder of Facebook, Chris was also in charge of the social media side of Barack Obama’s presidency campaign. He appeared on the cover of ‘Fast Company’ magazine, under the title “The Kid Who Made Obama President; How Facebook Cofounder Chris Hughes Unleashed Barack’s Base – and Changed Politics and Marketing Forever”. Now that’s a pretty bold statement to make about anyone, but it seems that Chris really did play a big part in promoting Obama, with his extensive knowledge of social media. I don’t know about you, but if I needed someone to help promote me through social media, I’d want one of the co-founders of Facebook too.
Gurbaksh Singh Chahal – 27 – $300,000,000 – GWallet.com
Chahal is a pretty incredible man; by the time he was 25 he had already founded and sold two advertising companies for a total of $340 million. He’s doing remarkably well for someone so young, and has already founded his third advertising agency, which was valued in March 2011 at $200 million. Chahal was born in Punjab, India, and came over to America when he was three, which provided him with the base for which he could start to grow his millions. Believe it or not, he’s actually a high school drop out, because at the tender age of 16, he left school to found his first performance based advertising company, ClickAgent. This was sold just two years later in an all stock merger for $40 million, to ValueClick. From here, he moved on to start another advertising firm, that was eventually bought for $300 million in cash from Yahoo!. Gurbaksh has a bit of a habit of selling up, and starting fresh, because at age 27, he’s already onto his forth advertising firm.
Matt Mullenweg – 27 – $250,000,000 – WordPress
Matt founded WordPress, which is the most popular blogging platform on the internet, and used by over 14.7% of Alexa Internet’s “top 1 million” websites and as of August 2011 powers 22% of all new websites. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform on the internet because of its usability and easy to install plugins that can make every site look unique. No doubt that the majority of people reading this are using WordPress for their own site, and we recommend it as we use it for IncomeDiary and ExpertPhotography. Matt is one of out 10 people who changed the internet because he’s managed to change the way that we use the internet now; we’re all a part of it, rather than just spectators. And if you’re not, then with just a small amount of effort, you can be too. I remember my first WordPress site, I chose a complicated theme, and didn’t understand it at all, but within three days, I’d learned the ropes and had it looking exactly how I wanted it.
Blake Ross – 26 – $150,000,000 – Mozilla
Blake Ross is most famous for his web browser, Mozilla Firefox, along with a number of other Mozilla applications such as Thunderbird and SeaMonkey. Blake originally started out working with AOL on the Netscape browser, but he wasn’t happy with where it was being taken, so he decided to create his own. That took a good amount of foresight that really paid off for him, because look at Netscape now, it doesn’t even exist anymore. Firefox was released when Blake was 19 in 2004, and totalled 100 million downloads in just one year, which is no small feat, by anyone’s standards. It became my personal browser of choice for many years because of the different add-ons that I could install to make it easier to use, and faster to run.
John Vechey – 30 – $100,000,000 – PopCap Games
John founded PopCap Games which is a games website, with free to play, but limited games, and larger ‘pay to play’ games. Their most popular game is bejewelled, a game that I’ve dabbled in myself in the past, due to its addictive nature, and it’s burnt many hours sitting on trains, and waiting for appointments. The company has also branched out into mobile phone gaming too. In July 2011, EA games announced that it would be buying PopCap for $650 million with an additional $100 million stock option. Part of the reason that PopCap have done so well is because they designed a game development kit, which was designed to let programmers easily and quickly create “PopCap-style” games, and is part of their developer program that encourages game creators to distribute their finished games through PopCap Games. It’s an excellent idea that’s proved to be incredibly lucrative for its founders.
Angelo Sotira – 30 – $87,000,000 – deviantArt
DeviantArt was launched by Angelo in 2000 when he was just 19 years old, and currently has an Alexa Rank of 129, which is extremely high for such a niched website. The site is known around the world, by more than 15 million members, covering a wide range of artistic niches and it’s considered to be the Facebook of the art/digital art world. The website it’s an online community showcasing various forms of user-made artwork, and the website aims to provide a platform for any artist to exhibit and discuss works. The works vary from photography, digital art, and traditional art, to literature, Flash, and filmmaking. They also provide a large number of tutorials and extra features, such as journals, polls, groups and portfolios. This is a website has a massive artistic community, that’s not going to be beaten by any would-be rivals anytime soon.
Naveen Selvadurai – 28 – $80,000,000 – Foursquare
Naveen is the founder of Foursquare, which is a location based app where users ‘check in’ and gain points. The joint venture is estimated to be worth something in the region of $600 million. There is obvious competition from Facebook, but Foursquare seems to have stood the test of time so far, by using slightly different features. If you check into a place enough times, then you become the ‘Major’ of that place, which means nothing in reality, and certainly has no monetary value, but it seems to be something that people want. Naveen originally had a similar product that relied on SMS messaging, rather than a mobile app, to check in, but it was bought by Google and shut down, spurring the launch of Foursquare. Considering where SMS based apps are now, the decision to sell was definitely a wise one.
Daniel Ek – 27 – $80,000,000 – Spotify
Daniel co-founded the popular music streaming program ‘Spotify’. The income for the programs come from ads that are played on the free version and monthly subscriptions from the paid version. It’s changing the way we listen to, and find new music, and has gone from strength to strength, with Sean Parker recently making an investment and taking it to the US. I can speak from years of experience with this program that it really has changed the way that I listen to music. I pay a small monthly subscription of £10 a month, and I have unlimited access to all the music I could possibly want. It’s changed the way I find new music, and had it not been for podcasts, it would have completely replaced iTunes for me. Daniel comes from a torrenting background, where illegal music downloading was commonplace, so it makes sense that he should be finding a solution that makes listening to music, legal and affordable.
Pavel Durov – 25 – $60,000,000 – V Kontakte
Pavel Durov founded V Kontakte in 2007, a social network in eastern Europe, which is very similar in design to Facebook, so much so, that it’s been considered a clone. There are about 135 million accounts, and it currently ranks 46 in the Alexa rank. As well as many of the Facebook features, there’s also a torrent file sharing system incorporated into it. It’s amazing how much money one man can make from clearly ripping off another company’s idea, but Pavel seems to have gotten away with it. Although the majority of Americans use Facebook, there are different networks in different parts of the world, which believe it or not, are more popular. Pavel saw a gap in the market, and a product that has proven to be successful, and he ran with it. Whether you agree with how he’s made the money or not, you’ve got to agree, it’s a bold move and he’s done very well with it.
Alexander Levin – 26 – $56,000,000 – Image Shack
Alexander founded Image Shack, which is a free to use image hosting website. There are options to pay for a subscription service, but the majority of its revenue is produced from advertising related to its free image hosting. With an Alexa rank of 135, and the launch of yfrog, which is a Twitter version of the site, Image Shack is clearly a very successful website, which is taking steps to ensure that it’s here to stay. It’s a very competitive market with clear competition from the likes of photobucket, imgur and tinypic.com, but Image Shack has continued to grow at an impressive rate. The website grew very quickly when it first started, allowing users to sign up for free, to host their images and manage their files. Although there’s a lot of competition out there, Image Shack is a trusted brand, with a loyal following of users, who continue to use the service.
Jake Nickell – 28 – $50,000,000 – Threadless
Jake is the founder of Threadless, which he started with $1,000 in seed money, after entering an Internet t-shirt design contest. That was back in 2000, and since then, he’s created an online network where users vote on designs to get printed, where the best ones go into production, and the designer gets a fee. They’ve expanded internationally with their famous low rate shipping. I live in the UK, and I’ve ordered five shipments of t-shirts over the past couple years, collecting dozens of them from their $10 tees sales. Every designer that gets printed receives $2,000 in cash, a $500 gift certificate (which they may trade in for $200 in cash), as well as an additional $500 for every reprint. Not only can graphic designers start to see money from their hard work, and often hobby, but the users of the site get something unique, that can’t be bought in shops. It’s a very interesting concept that seems to have worked out very well for everyone involved.
Sean Belnick – 23 – $42,000,000 – BizChair
BizChair.com is an online retailer of office chairs and furniture, as well as restaurant, church, and medical furniture. They were one of the first ‘online only’ furniture retailers when they were founded by Sean Belnick back in 2001. Their sales have risen steadily over the last five years to over $58 million in 2010. It started in a bedroom with a $500 investment and has grown into one of the largest furniture retailers on the internet. You may have done the maths by now and realised that if Sean is 23 now, and he started in 2001, then that would have made him 14 at the time. That’s correct. The investment came from his step-father, who also worked in the furniture business, and the company was started in his bedroom. Just 3 years later, and they moved into a 40,000-square-foot warehouse, and 2 years after that, a 100,000-square-foot space.
David Karp – 24 – $40,000,000 – Tumblr
David Karp brought blogging to the younger generation with Tumblr, with this very easy to set up blogging platform, that’s available for free. The site only launched 3 years ago in 2007, but it’s already surpassed the number of WordPress blogs, with over 30 million users. It’s even the blogging platform for President Obama’s official blog. This isn’t a traditional blogging platform though, it could be much more liked to a social network, almost like a cross between Facebook and GeoCities. The users can customise their pages and follow other blogs, or set them to private if they’d like. They can post text, images, videos and audio, and the reblog function allows users to post other people’s content on their blog, while providing credit. The clearly has viral implications and some images can gain tens of thousands of reblogs in no time at all.
Garrett Camp – 29 – $30,000,000 – StumbleUpon
Garrett Camp created StumbleUpon, a site that had probably provided most websites some traffic in the past, I know that mine certainly does well from it. You input your interest and SU takes you on a trip around the internet to relevant links. The site has an Alexa rank of 115, which just goes to show how popular it is. Think of it as a discovery engine, rather than a search engine, which takes you on a Stumble around the internet, showing you result that you may be interested in. There’s also an option where advertisers can pay for people to Stumble onto their website called ‘StumbleUpon Paid Discovery’. Considering how much time we all like to waste on the internet these days, it’s a pretty good concept, and as I mentioned above, I receive a lot of visitors from them, ranging from 20% to 50% of total traffic each month.