Home India News Gates still Forbes’ richest American, 4 Indians among top 400

Gates still Forbes’ richest American, 4 Indians among top 400

Washington, Oct 1 (IANS) Four Indian Americans are among America’s super-rich with Microsoft Corp co-founder Bill Gates still holding the top spot on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans with a fortune of $50 billion.

Warren Buffett, who’s worth $40 billion, comes in No.2 in the Forbes magazine’s annual ranking, followed by Oracle founder Lawrence Ellison ($27 billion) and members of the Walton family, owners of Walmart. The four Waltons have fortunes between $21.5 billion and $19 billion.

The number of list members losing value more than doubled to 314, compared with 126 in 2008. Billionaires fell to 391 from 489, as the biggest economic slump since the Great Depression set in.

“There’s a lot of people who think most of the people on this list grew up with a silver spoon but, in fact, 274 of the 400 are entirely self-made, meaning they came from humble origins. Another 52 inherited a small fortune and turned it into a very large one,” says Forbes.

The four Indian Americans on the list are:

#212 Bharat Desai & family: Born in Kenya, spent teens in India. Earned engineering degree from Indian Institute of Technology; moved to US after landing programming job for Tata Consultancy Services in 1976.

Founded outsourcing outfit Syntel in 1980 with wife, Neerja Sethi. Public 1997; shares up 300 percent since. Revenues in 2008: $410 million, up 22 percent from 2007, as cost-cutting clients exchange more outsourcing work for lower prices. Stepped down as chief executive in February.

#272 Kavitark Ram Shriram: India-born entrepreneur joined Netscape 1994. Created online shopping site Junglee; sold to Amazon in 1998. Founded venture firm Sherpalo 2000, became early investor, board member of Google.

Still owns 1.3 million shares worth $600 million. Sold voice-application company TellMe to Microsoft 2007, took career site Naukri public same year. Today backs Indian, US outfits: InMobi (mobile ads), Mint (online finances).

#277 Romesh Wadhwani & family: Rode tech bubble onto The Forbes 400 in 1999 with $9.3 billion sale of Aspect Development software firm to i2 Technologies. All-stock deal left fortune depleted 4 years later.

Used remaining millions to start or acquire nine business software and IT companies; clawed fortune back to 10 figures. Best investment: bought market-research company Information Resources 2003; former moneyloser now generates operating profit margins of 10 percent.

#347 Vinod Khosla: Venture capitalist continues to flog the green theme: dismisses wind power, electric cars as too expensive, unreliable to become mainstream. Partners India-born founded Sun Microsystems in 1985.

Four years later joined Sun investor John Doerr at venture outfit Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Split in 2004 to start Khosla Ventures. Recently raised $1 billion across two funds to invest in clean tech, IT.