Technology

Snapchat's Evan Spiegel joins Forbes 400 as world's youngest billionaire

The youngest billionaire in the world is Snapchat Inc.’s 25-year-old Chief Executive Evan Spiegel, at $2.1 billion, Forbes said Tuesday.

Spiegel and his fellow Snapchat cofounder, Bobby Murphy, both made the Forbes 400 for the first time this year, among 25 new entrants.

The financial magazine’s listing of the wealthiest Americans stretches from Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, at $76 billion, to Richard Yuengling, president of beer maker D.G. Yuengling & Sons, at $1.7 billion. With the economy humming along well, the minimum wealth needed to make the cut set a record, Forbes said.

Spiegel came in at No. 327. Raised in the Pacific Palisades, Spiegel attended Stanford to study engineering product design but dropped out in his senior year to work full time on what has become one of the most popular apps in the world. Murphy, Snapchat’s chief technology officer, was No. 375 at $1.8 billion.

Hundreds of millions of people, mostly teens and young adults, use Snapchat to keep up with friends, read the news and watch a mix of professionally created and amateur videos. Investors worldwide have put more than $1 billion into the start-up, valuing the company at about $15 billion. Snapchat celebrated its fourth birthday last Friday with a party that included a cake decorated with smiling versions of its ghost mascot.

Spiegel has cashed out some of his holdings in the company, but much of his wealth is likely tied up in shares that could fetch big prices if Snapchat goes public in the coming years as he has said it hopes to do. Forbes estimates he controls 13% of Snapchat and Murphy 11%.

Spiegel, for one, has stayed in rich company. Paparazzi recently have photographed him with Miranda Kerr, one of the world’s wealthiest models, on his arm.

Other young technology executives dot the 400 list, like Travis Kalanick, CEO of ride-hailing app Uber. His wealth doubled to $6 billion in the past year, making him the top gainer, percentage-wise, on the list, Forbes said.

Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg were the richest Californians, at No. 3 and No. 7, respectively. Ellison’s wealth was listed as $47.5 billion, and Zuckerberg’s $40.3 billion.

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Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren, with $15.2 billion at No. 30, was the richest Southern Californian and richest real estate developer. In addition to Spiegel and Murphy, Los Angeles billionaires included Patrick Soon-Shiong, Eli Broad and Edward Roski Jr. 

Real estate developer Rick Caruso, at $3.5 billion, was a new Los Angeles entrant, as was Kieu Hoang, who owns a blood plasma company and a Napa winery, and now has a $3.8-billion fortune.

Notably missing from last year’s list is Alan Auerbach, chief executive of Los Angeles biopharmaceutical company Puma Biotechnology. His net worth fell from $1.55 billion to $590 million as poor trial results have sunk the company’s share price about 70% to $72.32 in the last six months.

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