back to article Bill Gates loses richest man crown

Bill Gates is no longer the richest man on the planet. Investment guru Warren Buffett has knocked him off the number one spot for the first time in over a decade. Gates has been at the top of the annual Forbes rich list for the past 13 years. Buffett now has a personal fortune of about $62bn - ahead of Gates' cash pile of $ …


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  1. MikeC

    Finger food

    A $62 Billion buffet?? It could end world hunger! Think of all the Vol au vents!!!! And little cocktail wieners! Even Homer Simpson would be satisfied with that as an all-you-can-eat!

    What, you mean Warren BuffetT??? Ah, bugger, the one with the pockets full of food then, please...

  2. Slaine
    Gates Horns

    William Gates the 3rd, now in 3rd place.

    What a shame to read that Bill Gates is no longer the richest man on the planet. At least he can take solice from the fact that he is still by far the most loathed.

  3. Martin Owens
    Thumb Down

    Too Much?

    Is it me or are the people on this list to blame for economic problems? Surely it can't be good that a hand full of people own the economic production for a fair percentage of the world?

    Maybe they think it's backed by gold instead of labour. oh well, sooner we balance this problem the better.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry Bill

    We're having a whip round in the office.

  5. Paul R
    Gates Halo

    Soup Kitchen

    Presumably we'll be seeing him at the local soup kitchen soon then???

    BTW, current estimates are that he has given around $30B to charitable organisations since 2000. So taking that into account, he's earnings are far and away more than anyone else, and he's just a little shy of $100B!

  6. Dominic Thomas
    Gates Halo

    Rumours of his demise

    I thought Gates lost the No 1 spot some time ago, actually - yes, I blogged about it back in July of last year when he slipped to No 2, behind the wonderfully-named Carlos Slim:

  7. Frederick Lagunawiczia

    I agree with Paul R

    He has given nearly 30$ billion of that away, having said that I'm not sure however much the other two have given away, so in answer to the other poster's comments, if he's given nearly a third of his entire fortune to charity, at least in that one sole sector of his life, he has my vote for being ok !

  8. Stephen Channell
    Gates Halo

    Like he cares!

    He’s committed to giving away his entire fortune and Foundation gives as much money to finding a cure for Malaria as the G7 all together.. so he’s going to slip down the list bit-by-bit for years.

  9. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    760.6 Billion Dollars!

    Possesed by 25 'individuals'! (for 'individuals' read ' greedy c*nts)

    OBSCENE doesn't even begin to do it justice.

    I'm off to lie down in a cool place in order to lower my (already high) blood pressure before this turns into an incoherant rant.

  10. b166er

    Correct me if I'm wrong,

    but didn't Warren Buffett say he was going to give most of his fortune to Bill Gates at the time of his death? This apparently due to the fact that Mr Buffett feels Bill and Melinda Gates have the most experience with that amount of cash and are therefore the most likely to invest it wisely?

    That would certainly put him right back at the top.

  11. Hans

    Who's Money?

    But don't forget, its not really Bill's money, its OUR money.

    He just happens to be spending it for us, nice guy that he is.

  12. amanfromMars Silver badge

    What to Give the Man and Woman who thought they had Everything.

    "Presumably we'll be seeing him at the local soup kitchen soon then???" ..... By Paul R Posted Thursday 6th March 2008 12:57 GMT


    He'd probably do far Better with AI and Cloned Beta Proxies Delivering Financial Packages......Flash Cash........ Manna

  13. Robert Harrison

    Maybe Bill would be more popular

    if he said in a slightly exaggerated Brummie accent:

    I am considerably richer than yow

  14. Mark Johnson

    @Martin Owens

    Woah! Wind your flag in komrade Owens!

  15. dervheid

    Look at it another way....

    If you convert all that filthy lucre into nice shiny gold, at todays prices, that works out at the following approximation;

    760 billion dollars

    24,500 TONNES of gold. (or 24.5 MILLION 1kg ingots)

    I did say APPROXIMATELY remember. (Would you miss the odd few ingots at those numbers?)

    Back to the cool, dark, quiet place!

  16. Enno
    Thumb Down

    worlds richest white dude?

    It was my impression that the whole list was bollocks anyway, revolving around the provable (often paper) assets of these folk. The world has richer people, various oil sheiks, the Sultan of Brunei and so on, its just their real worth is less tangible until its all been dug up and until we know whether the western world will collectively pay $100/litre to visit aunt peg next decade.

  17. doublejay1973


    In the ultimate act of arrogance, or philanthropy I thought Buffet gave all of his away to Charidee ??

  18. Damian Lunny

    @Rumours of his demise

    And The Register reported it in July last year:

  19. Louis Cowan
    Thumb Up

    Gates loathed?

    Bit extreme, is it not?

    Granted many people may not be enthralled with his products or the direction his organisation has taken, but to call him the most loathed planet surely smacks a little of the old lynch mob mentality?

    No man is perfect ('cept me), and of course Bill has his flaws, but the man has brought computing to the forefront of technology and has changed the way the world conducts business, research, leisure. Walk down the street and pretty much everyone you see has had some form of business with him.

    And don't forget his philanthropic gestures - he's one of the most generous rich folk out there. One has to wonder if he would still be the richest man on the planet if he wasn't so generous...

  20. Anonymous Coward


    Or 5833333 Jubs of gold (in Register Standard Units).

  21. Simon Ball

    @Martin Owens

    They don’t own the economic production of a fair percentage of the world. Don’t forget the dot-com boom. Just because someone is rich on paper doesn’t mean that they can, in practise, actually spend it. Much of the wealth of Gates, Buffet et al is based on their vast shareholdings in the corporations they founded, and thus cannot be realised if they are to maintain control of those organisations. Not to mention that if the founder of a major corporation starts a massive sell-off, the share price is likely to plummet, thus devaluing his fortune.

    Obscene though the wealth of the ultra-rich appears to be, much of it is actually fairly theoretical, based as it is on ownership of pieces of paper that are given obscenely high values for no particular good reason. Just look at Mark Zuckerberg. That $1.5 Billion pretty much entirely consists of shares in a business that does not really have a business model, and could potentially disappear within the year.

  22. Gareth
    Thumb Up

    Why the Buffett hate?

    Buffett is an interesting chap, despite being the world's richest man he lives in the same house he bought decades ago (for less than $50k, from what I remember) and doesn't seem all that concerned about money from what I've read about him - he is just very, very good at investing in the right businesses at the right time and seems to find great pleasure in just doing what he does very well rather than the financial rewards which come from it (I believe his take-home pay is around $100k, all his fortune is in the businesses he runs).

    Whether or not it's correct that society allows such accumulation of wealth is another matter, but Buffett seems to operate well within the bounds of legality and ethics.

    (The Berkshire Hathaway annual report is freely available from their website and is, for a financial document, an enjoyable and educational read)

  23. Perpetual Cyclist

    How did Buffet make his money?

    By investing in oil when it was unfashionable. Because he understands peak oil.

    The man knows what he is talking about.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Obscenely Rich Comments

    It's worth pointing out that Warren Buffett has been outspoken against the sort of tax policies that favour the extremely rich (i.e. him), and supports programmes to reduce the rich-poor divide.

    Warren Buffet Slams Dividend Tax:

    Rich Americans Back Inheritance Tax:

    B166er: He's not giving it to Bill, he's giving it (mostly) to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Not the same thing, but that was the reason he gave for trusting the management. This won't bump Gates' personal wealth though.

  25. Angus Wood

    @Martin Owens

    "Is it me or are the people on this list to blame for economic problems? Surely it can't be good that a hand full of people own the economic production for a fair percentage of the world?"

    Yes - it is just you. You're probably making the old student politics error of assuming that wealth is a non-zero sum game; that is if one person has more then another person has less. This is not the case.

    Firstly, the non-zero sum proof:

    Capatilism can be loosely defined as the transformation of goods or services from one value plane to another, for example if I grow potatoes I transform seeds to saelable potatoes with my land, water and labour. Where there was a few kilos of seeds at (say) a price of £100 I now have created a crop of potatoes worth £1,000. Enough to feed me, pay my expenses, reinvest in next years seeds and make a small profit. I have created wealth.

    Were it a zero-sum game then we'd have a finite amount of wealth to go around, and given a the rapidly expanding population that we have we'd all be getting poorer. The fact that 1Bn chinese people have been lifted out of poverty in the last decade is eqally proof that wealth can be, and is, created.

    Addressing "to blame for economic problems", not knowing precisely which problems you mean I'll give a couple of answers;

    Famine, povery, war, high infant mortality et al can almost every time be blamed on bad government, although being land-locked as a country has quite a high effect too. The best round-up of the factors and routes out of economic pigmy status is probably The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier. It's a damn tragic book, but one that everyone should read.

    At the other end of the developed-nation spectrum (economic problems) are largely and simply down to human nature. For some reason (greed, stupidity, poorly designed bonus schemes) people bought high-yeilding commercial paper (CDOs, CDO squared, MBSs and so on) without making the mental connection between high yeild and high risk. The "no free lunch" principle does apply, even in the world of complex derivatives. I'd recommend Traders, Guns and Money by Satyajit Das if you want to know more about that whole area of the world. (It's pretty damn, fascinating)

    Buffett, quite the contrary to your assertation, has actually been trying to stabilise the commercial paper market by offering to buy one of the larger municipal bond insurers (although they did reject the offer) and in the last few weeks as reportedly insured US6bn worth of bonds under a company he's just set up. That, thankfully for a lot of US states, means that their cost of borrowing has been stabilised - something that was a big worry for a lot of people.

    As other commenters have pointed out, Gates and Buffett are the biggest philanthropists the world has ever seen. The Google Guys have recently unveiled their own initiatives too, en passant.

    (Mine's the one with the leather patches on the elbows... thanks...)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    At least he is a generous guy

    I see Steve 'The Messiah' Jobs is at 189th position with $5.4bn. Lets see him do some good with it instead of pretending to be the consumers friend, all round good guy and still hip with the young despite being 54 years old. The truth is he is an egotistical hypocrite with a God complex who has no time for the people he considers beneath him and it's people like him who encourage the 'let's shit on everyone else, I'm number 1' mentality so prevalent in todays society.

  27. Onionman

    @perpetual cyclist ref "Peak Oil"

    Peak Oil? What a joke.

    For those critical of Buffet, you really should read more. His company state publicly that they carry out no activities at all aimed at artificially reducing their tax bill. He does indeed live in a house he's always lived in. He buys companies run by people who he thinks have a 100 year horizon when they are investing. He is the nicest face of capitalism you could wish for.

    And he's planning to give the lot away. What more could you want?


  28. Lars Silver badge
    Gates Halo


    Charity is a fine thing, of course, but as far as I understand it is also a good business.

    That is, if I give 10 euro to charity then I am 10 euro "poorer", but that is not how those super charity fundations work.

  29. Daniel B.
    Thumb Up

    Gates and the 1st place

    I think this is the first time he gets knocked down *in the Forbes list*. Though in practice, it would be more like Buffett knocked down Slim, who was #1 back then. Ouch.

    Carlos Slim also has a pretty good record to begin with; he revived the entire Alameda Central block in Mexico City that had turned into slums and rubble after the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, and has made several social programs, including scholarships for poor students.

    Of course, he's incredibly rich as he owns the #1 Mexican telco (Telmex is like BT over here) and the #1 mobile co (Telcel/America Móvil). Oh, and the only Mexican I know that has been buying US companies. Anyway ... I do prefer Slim over Billy Gates. Why?

    Both give expensive products... except Slim's telecoms & mobile services actually WORK as they should. ;)

  30. heystoopid

    Funny ha ha list

    The Forbes so called rich lists has a number of fatal flaws in how the wealth is calculated , and the divorce of a media magnate with dual citizenship exposed their dubious accounting methods for all to see !

  31. Chris Bradshaw

    Gates Foundation

    I don't agree with Mr. Gates at all about the way he runs his company or the way his company competes in the marketplace. But I do admire him for doing good things with the money he has made, and I like how he takes a 'world-wide' in bad ways.

    Buffett is planning to donate his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, because they will be able to do even more good things with the extra cash. Buffett feels (IIRC) that they will be better at managing the job than he, also they are younger and will have more time and energy to get things done. It makes sense to me...

  32. Dave Cheetham

    But does he care?

    Well I am sure he is crying all the way to the bank. I doubt whether he even cares he has slipped down the list. He is doing far more good reduing his personal fortune with his philanthropy. I used to go with the flow of Gates bashing, especially when windows crashed... But now, Bill gets my vote.

    Mine is the coat with the wallet in the pocket... somewhere.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    richest man?

    I think the worlds rich list is compiled from a list of rich people who want to be included. The richest will keep themselves off the list, I can think of at least two examples which would have seen bill gates in 3rd place minimum for the last 30 years...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Indeed ...A title is required

    Bill's going into TV with a new program ...American Idle. (not to be confused with American Idol).

  36. Steen Hive
    Paris Hilton

    @Angus Wood

    "Yes - it is just you. You're probably making the old student politics error of assuming that wealth is a non-zero sum game; that is if one person has more then another person has less. This is not the case."

    Shurely shome mishtake? The student error is assuming that wealth IS a zero-sum game. However you make an equally elementary error in assuming that wealth is *always* a non-zero-sum game - production must accrue value to generate wealth, and this is patently not always the case. Anyway this isn't about economics 101, really it's about "capitalism" in it's modern form which sets in stone that for the vast majority of people, wealth generated must solely be in the form of subsistence - ie. it isn't their wealth at all. This is, for anyone with a conscience, sub-optimal - the fact that a handful of people own vastly skewed proportions of the overall wealth could be viewed as a ludicrous inefficiency, too.

    It's fantastic that Bill Gates has a social conscience, but maybe it would have been more efficient distribution-wise to let the people who generated his wealth keep it in the first place.

    Paris, because she knows a thing or two about game theory, about the futility of using static, normative models to describe dynamic, often chaotic systems, and about the lurking dangers of coercing systems to fit models rather than using models to describe systems.

  37. Jonathan
    Gates Halo

    For Bill's next birthday...

    I hope he works in a McDonalds for a day, just as a joke.


    "So what qualifications do you have, Mr Gates?"

    "Well, I created and monopolized the home operating system market, and the company I co founded later extended into home entertainment and server software."

    "So you dont have any experience in the fast food industry?"

    "Well, I, uh, that is"

    "Thanks Mr Gates, we will get back to you."

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