Billionaires Born in the Year of the Monkey

In celebration of Lunar New Year, we thought it might be interesting to highlight eight billionaires born in the Year of the Monkey.

George Lucas George Lucas

Birthday: 14 May 1944
Age: 71
Country: US
Net Worth: US$ 5.1 billion
Wealth Source: Self-Made
Industry: Entertainment
Current Company: The Walt Disney Company (shareholder)

Lucas received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California in 1966, and he started his film career by making short films. In 1967, his “THX-1138: 4EB” won first prize at the National Student Film Festival. In 1969, he co-founded American Zoetrope, a privately run film studio. He founded Lucasfilm in 1971, a film and television production company, where he served as the Chairman. Following he success of his film “American Graffiti,” which won a Golden Globe award and five Academy Award nominations, he began working on “Star Wars.” Initially, the movie was turned down by many studios.

Eventually, 20th Century Fox agreed to produce the space opera, but Lucas had to forgo his directing salary in exchange for 40% of the film’s box-office take and all merchandising rights. The Star Wars series became a breakout hit, winning seven Academy awards. In 2012, The Walt Disney Company acquired Lucasfilm for a reported US$4.05 billion — Lucas received US$2 billion in cash and 37.1 million shares of The Walt Disney Company. He currently serves as the Chairman of The George Lucas Educational Foundation and President of George Lucas Family Foundation.

Jerry Yang Jerry Yang

Birthday: 6 November 1968
Age: 47
Country: US
Net Worth*: US$ 1.6 billion
Wealth Source: Self-Made
Industry: Technology
Current Company: AME Cloud Ventures (Founding Partner)

Born in Taiwan, Yang moved to the US with his family at the age of 10 in 1978. While pursuing a electrical engineering graduate degree at Stanford University in 1994, Yang and classmate David Filo created the website “Jerry and Dave’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” which was a directory of other websites. The duo took a leave of absence from the Ph.D. program and in 1995 incorporated the company as Yahoo!, an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.”

In 1996, the company went public. Yang served as the CEO of Yahoo! from 2007 until 2009, after which he continued to serve as a Director. In 2008, Microsoft made a bid to acquire Yahoo! at US$31 a share, valuing the company at US$ 44.6 billion; Yang rejected the bid. In January 2012, Yang resigned from Yahoo! and related directorships. Since leaving the company, Yang has invested in several technology ventures through the AME Cloud Ventures fund, of which he is the Founding Partner.

Maria Sandra Ortega Mera Sandra Ortega Mera

Birthday: 19 July 1968
Age: 47
Country: Spain
Net Worth: US $6.1 billion
Wealth Source: Inheritance
Industry: Retail
Current Company: Inditex (shareholder)

Ortega Mera is the daughter of Amancio Ortega and Rosalia Mera, founders of Spain-based Industria de Diseno Textil (Inditex), one of the largest fashion retail conglomerates in the world. Although she is a significant shareholder in the family business, she prefers to keep a low profile and also serves as Vice President of Fundacion Paideia Galiza, a non-profit organization that aims to help disenfranchised people, including the disabled, find jobs and develop greater autonomy.

Robin LiRobin Li

Birthday: 17 November 1968
Age: 47
Country: China
Net Worth: US$ 8 billion
Wealth Source: Self-Made
Industry: Technology
Current Company: Baidu (CEO)

Li graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in information management from Peking University in 1991 and obtained a Master’s degree in computer science from the State University of New York. After working overseas, Li returned to China in 2000 and co-founded Baidu, which runs the country’s largest search engine. Baidu became the first Chinese company to be listed on the NASDAQ-100 Index in 2007.

Chip Wilson Chip Wilson

Birthday: 3 March 1956
Age: 59
Country: Canada
Net Worth: US$ 2 billion
Wealth Source: Self-Made
Industry: Retail
Current Company: Lululemon Athletica (shareholder)

Wilson studied economics at the University of Calgary; after graduating, he started a surf-ski clothing store called Westbeach Surf, which was later renamed to Westbeach Snowboard to capitalize on the rising popularity of snowboarding. Wilson sold the company in 1997, and he then established high-end athletic clothing brand Lululemon Athletica, which targeted yoga enthusiasts. In 2005, he sold a 48 percent stake in the company for about US$105 million. Lululemon Athletica went public on the NASDAQ in 2007 and currently operates more than 300 stores throughout the world. In February 2015, he left the company’s board but retained his remaining shareholdings.

Meg Whitman Meg Whitman

Birthday: 4 August 1956
Age: 59
Country: US
Net Worth: US$ 2 billion
Wealth Source: Self-Made
Industry: Technology
Current Company: HP Incorporated (Chairman)

Whitman started her career with Procter & Gamble in 1979 as a Brand Manager, before becoming Vice President of Bain & Company from 1981 to 1989. After serving as Senior Vice President of Marketing at The Walt Disney Company, Whitman held the position of CEO and President of eBay from 1998 to 2008. In 2010, she ran for Governor of California as a Republican and lost to Democrat Jerry Brown in the final election. In January 2011, Whitman joined Hewlett-Packard Company as a Director; She was appointed as a Board Member of cloud-based online survey development company SurveyMonkey in September 2015.

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi

Birthday: 2 May 1944
Age: 71
Country: Thailand
Net Worth: $ 12.7 billion
Wealth Source: Self-Made
Industry: Beverage
Current Company: Thai Beverage (Chairman)

Sirivadhanabhakdi’s father reportedly worked as a fried mussel pancake vendor in Bangkok’s Chinatown. As a teenager, Sirivadhanabhakdi started a small trading business which became the TCC Group; he worked with his wife, Wanna, to supply products to local distilleries, eventually attaining a concession of their own to produce liquor. In the mid-1990s, Sirivadhanabhakdi began producing Chang Beer, which grew into the top-selling brand in Thailand.

After the acquisition of Inverhouse, Scotland’s second-largest whiskey distillery, for a reported US$110 million, the TCC Group began a process of intense diversification and expansion, with numerous subsidiaries in real estate, hospitality, insurance and information technology. in 2003, Sirivadhanabhakdi unified his various alcohol and liquor interests under Thai Beverage, which was listed on the Singapore stock exchange in 2006. He has five children who are all increasingly active in the family’s businesses; his son Thapana has been President and CEO of Thai Beverages since 2008 and his son-in-law Aswin Techajaroenvikul, leads Berli Jucker.

Taha Azmi Mikati Taha Azmi Mikati

Birthday: 8 May 1944
Age: 71
Country: Lebanon
Net Worth: US$ 3.3 billion
Wealth Source: Self-Made
Industry: Telecom
Current Company: M1 Group (Chairman)

A native of Tripoli, Mikati studied civil engineering at the American University of Beirut before moving to Abu Dhabi and co-founding the Arabian Construction Company (ACC) in 1967. The business expanded, becoming one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East; Mikati sold his stake in ACC in 1992. Mikati co-founded telecommunications company Investcom with his brother, Najib Mikati, and the firm went public on the London Stock Exchange in 2005 with a market capitalization of US$3.3 billion.

The Mikati brothers sold their stakes in Investcom to South African telecom company MTN Group in 2006, before co-founding M1 Group as a diversified holding company for the family’s various business interests. Mikati currently serves as Chairman of the family foundation, Azm & Saade Association, which supports healthcare and educational initiatives in Lebanon and abroad.

*Note: all net worths listed above are as of February 7, 2016. Wealth-X’s dossiers for the most notable billionaires have real-time net worth valuations that may fluctuate from day to day based on changes in publicly listed equity share prices and changes in currency exchange rates.

Source/Credit: Wealth X