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Apple's success has generated hundreds of billions of dollars, but not many billionaires

There's just one billionaire in Apple's current leadership, who didn't make his money from Apple. But the company has produced billion-dollar fortunes for suppliers.




The word "billion" comes up a lot when it comes to Apple, whether it's the company's $873 billion market capitalization, more than $280 billion in cash on hand, or the more than $11 billion Apple reportedly spent on research and development last year.

Despite that, Apple has produced few billionaires, and no one currently in the main leadership of the company who earned billionaire status directly through their involvement with Apple. According to a Bloomberg report Tuesday Apple stands in contrast with other Silicon Valley companies, in which CEOs and other investors have achieved net worths in the billions.

Steve Jobs was a billionaire; his net worth was estimated at around $10 billion at the time of his death in 2011. But due to his departing the company and coming back, which resulted in his selling his shares and having to re-acquire them, Jobs' net worth was much lower than that of his contemporary Bill Gates. Much of Jobs' fortune came from non-Apple sources, including his cofounding of Pixar Animation Studios and its subsequent acquisiton by Disney.

Current CEO Tim Cook is not a billionaire; his net worth is estimated in the $600 million range. Art Levinson, Apple's chairman, is the only known billionaire in Apple's present leadership, although he earned most of his fortune from non-Apple business, mostly his time with Genentech. Bloomberg's Billionaires Index consists of 500 names; the only name on the list with any direct association with Apple is Laurene Powell Jobs, the entrepreneur and widow of Steve Jobs, although she has no role with the company.

Suppliers cash in



Not mentioned in the report, are the founders and/or CEOs of several top Apple suppliers. Zhou Qunfei, founder of Lens Technology, is ranked 217th with a listed fortune of $7.3 billion. Terry You, the founder of major Apple supplier Foxconn, is at #273, with a net worth of $6.16 billion, as is Barry Lam, founder and CEO of Quanta Computer, whose $4.12 billion fortune places him 486th.

Apple's wealth has always been spread around employees and suppliers more than other tech companies. None of its cofounding generation is still with the company, as Jobs is deceased, Steve Wozniak's stake is estimated in the millions rather than billions, and the third cofounder, Ronald Wayne, infamously walked away from the company for $800 in 1976. Mike Markkula, an early investor in Apple and employee number three, is said to have a net worth over $1 billion, but he left Apple in the '90s.

Apple doesn't have a Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, or Larry Ellison, a dominant executive figure who's both still in the picture and in position to demand overwhelming compensation.

Apple also hasn't spent the amount on acquisitions that would put billions in the pockets of those with significant equity in the acquired companies. Despite various reports to the contrary at the time, Apple's purchase of Beats in 2014 did not make Dr. Dre the first billionaire rapper. However, Bloomberg did speculate that some longtime Apple employees, such as Jony Ive, may hold enough equity in the company to push their net worth over a billion dollars.