Bill Gates, as of September 2014, is worth $81 billion. Steve Jobs had a net worth of $8.3 bill in 2010. These two amassed loads of money, but they didn’t become ridiculously wealthy by eating off silver spoons. They put their brilliant minds to work and changed the world with technology.
But they were just the initial sparks. They started spinning the wheel of innovation and hundreds of similarly marvelous intellectuals are following in their footsteps. Year after year, the best quickly rise to the top. We compiled a list of not only the richest, but the most disruptive minds of this year.
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Like Gates and Jobs, Elizabeth Holmes is a self-made billionaire. In fact, she’s already worth $4.5 billion at just 30 years old, and she officially became the youngest female on the self-made billionaire list. She dropped out of Stanford at 19, and with her tuition money, she started the Palo Alto-based blood testing company Theranos. Her technology completely disrupted the laboratory-diagnostic industry and helps phlebotomists analyze over 70 tests with just a prick of blood. She made the old technology of vials and tourniquets completely irrelevant. Sound familiar? Now Holmes is worth half as much as Steve Jobs and has plans to open Theranos Wellness Centers inside Walgreens pharmacies.
Alexa Von Tobel
Alexa Von Tobel, like Holmes, dropped out of school (Harvard Business) to establish herself as a young CEO. She’s also disrupting the financial industry. Rather than leaving financial insights to the elite, she’s made fiscal success accessible and affordable. At only 29, she’s the founder and CEO of LearnVest, an online guide and community that promotes financial planning. Alexa also just authored a New York Times Bestseller Financially Fearless. Like Jobs and Gates, Von Tobel is making something that was previously unattainable, available to the masses.
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Travis Kalanick and Garret Camp
These two completely disrupted the monopoly of taxis. We’ll assume you’ve heard of their app-based transportation company called Uber? In just 5 years, Kalanick and Camp are already servicing 53 countries and the corporation is worth over $40 billion. They’ve recently faced a bit of backlash and criticism for their high charges, but their futures look bright. They plan to expand their UberX, UberBlack and UberPOOL services, the latter of which will eventually take more than 1 million cars off the road (according to Uber).
At 27 years old, Billie Whitehouse has been deemed the “female Elon Musk of fashion”. Why? She co-founded Wearable Experiments, a fashion retailer that trumps most contemporary wearable technology. She’s created underwear with vibrators in them (editor’s note: this was for buzz, not retail); an athletic shirt that reacts to real time data about the game and transmits that sensation to Alert Shirt-wearing fans; and a Google Maps synced-blazer with shoulder pads that vibrate to direct the wearer to turn right or left.
Although his net worth of $1.5 billion is growing by the hour, Brian Chesky hasn’t owned a home since 2010. Why? Because he uses his own product, Airbnb. Along with his two cofounders, Chesky disrupted the hospitality industry by building a website that allows users to rent out personal rooms for temporary lodging. According to the Airbnb economic impact report, the service “generates approximately $56 million in local spending and supports 430 jobs” in San Francisco alone. And of that number, $12.7 million goes directly to local households.
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Here’s another disrupter. Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick and his cofounder are using their new food technology to discover innovative ways of creating healthier food options with plant-based products. At just 34, Tetrick is killing it with his eggless cookie dough and mayonnaise products. And with recent backing from Li Kashing and Yahoo! Jerry Yang, more egg-free options are on the horizon.
Evan Spiegel is the youngest bright mind on the list, breaking into the billionaire’s club at the young age of 24, thanks to a little app called Snapchat. After leaving Stanford to focus on the creation of the product, Spiegel is now CEO of the $10 billion dollar company. He’s just hired Emily White of Instagram and PayPal President David Marcus, and with the launch of Snapcash, the company will be growing each day.