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The latest news on Billionaires from Business Insider

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    vinod khoslaAs the new year begins, so does a new chapter in the battle over a stretch of California beach whose access point has been blocked by Vinod Khosla, venture capitalist and billionaire cofounder of Sun Microsystems.

    Khosla has long been mired in lawsuits regarding a public-access point at Martins Beach, a small surfer's haven just south of Half Moon Bay. In the latest turn, he could be forced to sell his land to the state.

    In 2008, Khosla purchased a 53-acre property adjacent to the beach for $37.5 million. A few months after Khosla made the purchase, a gate leading from the Pacific Coast Highway down to the parking lot was locked, and signs forbidding entry were posted. 

    In September, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Barbara Mallach ruled that Khosla had to seek a permit from the California Coastal Commission before locking the gates leading down to the beach. Failing to obtain a permit before changing the nature of public access to a beach was found to be a violation of the California Coastal Act. 

    Surfrider Foundation, an environmental organization with strong ties to Martins Beach, first filed suit against Khosla in March 2013, with most of the arguments in the case taking place last summer.

    But now Khosla must consult with another state commission regarding the situation. 

    A law signed by California Governor Jerry Brown in October officially went into effect on Jan. 1, requiring the State Lands Commission to immediately start negotiations with Khosla. 

    The law, which was introduced by State Senator Jerry Hill last February, requires the Lands Commission to consult with San Mateo County and other local officials on whether the management of the road and public parking lots should be taken away from Khosla.

    If the commission doesn't reach an agreement with Khosla by Dec. 31, the new law says the commission can exercise eminent domain to force a sale of the right-of-way path on Khosla's property.

    martin's beach

    Meanwhile, the gate leading down to the beach has only been open sporadically. 

    According to testimony at this summer's trial, the family that previously owned the property kept the gate open every day of the year, unless there was inclement weather or a private event was taking place. The family charged $2 to park at the beach, which also once had a restaurant and convenience store that catered to visitors.

    martins beach

    With a concrete year-end deadline, the new law could prove to be a faster solution than resolving the Surfrider lawsuit.

    In December, Khosla filed a motion to throw out Mallach's order to reopen access to the beach. Khosla is seeking a new trial, claiming "irregularity in the proceedings of the Court,""improper orders of the Court," and "abuse of discretion by the Court," among other complaints. 

    According to the San Jose Mercury News, Khosla's lawyers have been considering an appeal to the case that would preserve the billionaire's property rights.

    NOW WATCH: How To Use Excel's New Flash Fill Feature To Recognize Data Patterns


    SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley Billionaire Is Challenging The Order To Open The Beach He Blocked

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    carl icahn

    It takes a lot of tenacity to work your way into the world's most exclusive group: the billionaires' club. 

    Carl Icahn, a 78-year-old investor who has an estimated net worth of $24 billion, exhibited this trait right from the start. 

    In Tony Robbins' new book "Money: Master The Game," Icahn described his outsized aspirations and how he didn't just look for opportunities — he made them. 

    Icahn grew up in the Far Rockaway neighborhood of Queens, New York. His mother was a teacher, and his father worked as a cantor at a local synagogue. 

    "When I was applying to colleges, my teachers told me, 'Don't bother with the Ivy League. They don't take kids from this area,'" he told Robbins. "I took the boards anyway and got into all of them. I chose Princeton." 

    His father paid the tuition ($750 in the 1950s), but Icahn didn't have any money to pay for room and board. He got a job as a beach boy at a club in the Rockaways, where he ended up joining a regular poker game with the cabana owners. 

    Icahn told Robbins: 

    At first I didn't even know how to play, and they cleaned me out. So I read three books on poker in two weeks, and after that I was 10 times better than any of them. To me, it was a big game, big stakes. Every summer I won about $2,000, which was like $50,000 back in the '50s. 

    carl icahn timeAfter paying his way through Princeton with poker winnings and a stint in the Army, Icahn landed on Wall Street. He borrowed money to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange and worked in arbitrage, a low-risk strategy of exploiting price differences, when he started to "make big money, $1.5 to $2 million a year." 

    That led him to found his own firm, now called Icahn Enterprises, and to start taking positions in undervalued companies. He said he would find companies that weren't well-run and would come in and say, "I'm taking you over unless you change, or unless the board does X, Y, Z." Usually the board acquiesced, he said, but sometimes they fought back and took him to court. 

    "Very few people had the tenacity I had," Icahn told Robbins. "I'm a very competitive guy. Passionate or obsessive, whatever you want to call it. And it's in my nature that whatever I do, I try to be the best."


    NOW WATCH: Psychiatrist Reveals 5 Ways To Have Healthy And Meaningful Relationships


    SEE ALSO: Tony Robbins Shares 3 Steps To Creating A Life-Changing Breakthrough

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    mark cubanThe following is an excerpt from "The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value" by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen.

    Cuban's habit of getting as much information as he can dates back to when he was a kid trading stamps and baseball cards.

    Even then his curiosity helped him gain an edge over other buyers.

    "I remember staying up till three, four, or five in the morning reading about stamps," he told us when we spoke with him at his offices in Dallas.

    "I memorized the value of everything so that when I went to a stamp shop, I'd know. I learned early on that most people don't do the work and that if I was prepared, I would have an edge."

    "It was same with baseball cards. What was the demand for baseball cards? I probably was ten and there's a park down the street where I grew up and I would repackage baseball cards that I bought and go down there and I could charge a premium. I was doing the math so I could make money. I just think I was wired that way."

    This habit served him well over the years when the transactions started to get larger and more serious.

    Cuban formed MicroSolutions in the mid-1980s to service the burgeoning population of business computer users.

    The_Self Made_Billionaire_Effect (1) copy"I was still just ten months from my first introduction to PCs, and had no clue about multi-user systems," he has written about his first days in business. He learned what he needed to know by taking the time to read about it. "I read every book and magazine I could. One good idea would lead to a customer or a solution, and those magazines and books paid for themselves many times over."

    Reprinted from "The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value" by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen with permission of Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 2015.

    SEE ALSO: 20 Super-Successful People Share Their New Year's Resolution

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    As you've probably heard, China has gotten really rich, really fast.

    You can see it in the number of absurdly wealthy people the People's Republic now holds. 

    According to GQ, which analyzed the Hurun Report list of Chinese billionaires, there were three billionaires in China in 2004.

    By 2014, there were 354.

    That's an 11,700% increase.

    chinese billionairesAmerica still has the most billionaires in the world, at 492. But the American growth rate is much slower than China's. The US had 274 billionaires in 2004, representing an increase of about 80% in the past decade.

    The rise of China's ultrarich is due to a range of factors. China is now a place of high-growth startups, the most splashy of which is Jack Ma's Alibaba, which had a history-making initial public offering last year— to the point that Ma made more money than anybody else in 2014. Like many of the world's superwealthy, China's newly wealthy spring from industries including real estate, private-business ownership, and finance

    Even with China's economic slowdown, GQ estimates that China will overtake the US in billionaire count within two years.

    What will the Chinese megarich buy with all their money? Probably a megayacht or two.  


    NOW WATCH: How To Pack A Suit So You're Not A Wrinkled Mess When Traveling


    SEE ALSO: Most Of The World's Billionaires Made Their Money In These 5 Industries

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    Sue Ann Hamm

    Sue Ann Arnall, the ex-wife of Oil tycoon and CEO of Continental Resources Harold Hamm, reportedly cashed a personal check for $974.8 million, according to CNBC, citing "a source close to the call."

    This decision comes near the end of Hamm and Arnall's high-profile divorce.

    On Tuesday it was reported that Hamm offered to pay $974.9 million to Arnall, but she rejected the handwritten check that was given to her legal team.

    Arnall, a former Continental executive, contended that her award of about $1 billion in cash and assets was inadequate and allowed her ex-husband to keep the majority of a fortune. Her lawyers valued it as high as $18 billion, according to Reuters.

    Harold Hamm had already paid his former wife more than $20 million during the divorce proceedings. His appeal contended that the $1 billion award was too steep. 

    Hamm has lost $12 billion tied to the value of his 68% stake in Continental in recent months, which his legal team blames on the sharp fall in oil prices.

    Arnall and Hamm were married for 26 years.

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    Ted Turner

    The hardest part of becoming a billionaire isn't keeping tabs on your accounts, finding friends and employees you can trust, or juggling the demands on your deep pockets.

    It's getting started.

    At least, that was the hardest part for media magnate and billionaire Ted Turner.

    In "Billionaires: Reflections On The Upper Crust," Darrell M. West recalls Turner's 1995 address to Brown University, where West was teaching political science.

    West describes a key point in Turner's presentation:

    His most difficult challenge, he said, had been making the first million dollars; after that, everything was easy. Money begets money, he bluntly observed, thereby making it possible to gain even greater wealth through social and political connections.

    West uses this comment as a jumping off point for a discussion of how the wealthiest citizens in the US wield undue influence on its government. "This, of course, is the crux of the controversy about the role of billionaires in society," he writes. 

    Not every recollection from Turner's visit to Brown was so heavy, however: He also talked about raising Buffalo in Montana, and joked that his favorite part of ranch life was the ability to "take a whiz" off his front porch.

    SEE ALSO: Wealthy People Make Different Choices With Their Money Than The Rest Of Us

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    joe mansueto morningstar 2The following is an excerpt from "The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value" by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen.

    Understanding the relationship between time and creativity gave us insight into a tendency that we observed firsthand in the billionaires we met.

    That habit could be best described as being present.

    It was one of the first things we noticed about Joe Mansueto, for example.

    When we walked into Morningstar's office on the day of our meeting, he was sitting at a table in a conference room with his hands crossed over each other, waiting for us. "Yes," he said, "I am ready for you."

    We expected that our time with him would be interrupted by other obligations, questions, or commitments, but that wasn't the case, neither with him, nor with Glen Taylor, Chip Wilson, Jeff Lurie, Steve Case, T. Boone Pickens, or the Spanos children.

    When we were with Mansueto, it seemed as if our interview was the only commitment he had. His phone didn't ring. No one entered the room in the middle of the conversation to give him a message. He was completely present.

    This trait is almost universal among the billionaires we interviewed. They were focused, attentive, and entirely present as we spoke. Steve Case even thanked us for taking the time to talk with him about the research we were doing and the ideas we wanted to explore.

    We call attention to this trait because it is so different from our daily interactions with the executives we work with — our colleagues, our clients, even ourselves. We all seem to be doing three things at once in addition to having a conversation with someone.

    Not so with the billionaires. They appear far less busy than most executives, and we suspect that isn't an accident of seniority. They intentionally guard their time, doing away with extras, distractions, and nonessential activities so that they are able to support their most vital work.

    By guarding their time preciously billionaires are able to constantly cultivate and grow their innate curiosity. It gives them the time to read or converse widely on the subjects that let them make remote connections.

    The_Self Made_Billionaire_Effect (1) copyWe cannot say that such strict time management causes success, but the evidence is strong in support of the idea that disciplined — even ritualistic — practices open up the mental space to observe long-term trends and develop a compelling and real vision around them.

    Reprinted from "The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value" by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen with permission of Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 2015.

    SEE ALSO: This Is The Hardest Part Of Getting Rich, According To A Billionaire

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    Michael BloombergThe following is an excerpt from "The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value" by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen.

    Michael Bloomberg is most famous today as the post 9/11 mayor of New York City, but he began his career with the reputable Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers and quickly rose in the ranks until he was a rising star buying and selling blocks of stock sold by large institutions.

    But Bloomberg's star only shot so high at Salomon. He excelled as a trader, and he was made partner and then given responsibility for all equities.

    But in 1978, just as abruptly, he was demoted to run the information technology division of the company, where he was still stationed in 1981 when Salomon Brothers decided to merge with the commodity trading firm Phibro. Bloomberg was given a pat on the back and a severance check of $10 million.

    The company he'd worked for since graduating from Harvard Business School — the company he has said he would never have left — was letting him go.

    Bloomberg was thirty-nine years old when this happened and couldn't imagine going to work for a different Wall Street firm. He took a chunk of the $10 million and created a business that merged the two skills he had developed at Salomon Brothers — knowledge of the securities and investment business, and of the technologies that assisted in the deals.

    "When it came to knowing the relative value of one security versus another, most of Wall Street in 1981 had pretty much remained where it was when I began as a clerk back in the mid-1960s: a bunch of guys using No. 2 pencils, chronicling the seat-of-the-pants guesses of too many bored trades," Bloomberg has written about the state of investment data at the time.

    Bloomberg imagined that he could build a system that took information about a mass of different investment types — stocks, bonds, currencies — and reveal a firm's position and show what was moving where so traders could see investment opportunities previously hidden by too much (and too inaccessible) data. Bloomberg hired four former Salomon people, including his Performer complement Tom Secunda, who wrote the first analytics programs, and got to work selling and dealing the as yet-uninvented Bloomberg terminal.

    Merrill Lynch's Capital Markets Division was the first prospect. As Bloomberg tells it, he went alone to a meeting with Ed Moriarty, he division head, and pitched the nonexistent product to him and his team as if it were established.

    Screen Shot Self Made Billionaire Effect

    When Bloomberg finished, Moriarty turned to Hank Alexander, the head of his software department, and asked his opinion. Alexander said he thought they should build it themselves — a not uncommon response in the "build it here" world of investment banking technology.

    When Moriarty asked how long it would take, Alexander reportedly said, "Well, if you don't give us anything new to do we'll be able to start in six months." With that opening, Bloomberg said, "I'll get it done in six months and if you don't like it, you don't have to pay for it."

    Bloomberg and his team had little more than an idea of what could help the traders at one of the country's most respected commercial banks. But he made a deal on that idea as if it existed already. Bloomberg used his persuasive capacity to sell the vision and then he went to work building a custom terminal that brought in proprietary data and analytics.

    "It wasn't elegant," he said of the first Bloomberg terminal they delivered. "It was laughably simplistic by today's standards. But we did it, and it worked."

    Reprinted from "The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value" by John Sviokla and Mitch Cohen with permission of Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP, 2015.

    SEE ALSO: Mark Cuban Used To Stay Up All Night Reading About Stamps

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    navy seal billionaire

    The unofficial motto of the United States Navy is non sibi sed patriae, which means, “Not for self, but for country.” For a slew of former Navy SEALs, the motivating factor of country has been replaced by that of clients. 

    These days, top-earning Americans concerned for their security are hiring teams of ex-Navy SEALs who make their living as bodyguards to the highest bidders. The customers seeking such protection are as diverse as the threats they face: CEOs fearing potentially scandalous information leaks, families looking to beef up security after a robbery, prominent billionaires traveling in volatile nations or, in one case, a survivor of a deadly terrorist attack at a foreign resort.

    After leaving the service in 2008, former SEAL Jason Padilla started the Los Angeles–based firm SEALs on Security, which handles protection for high-level executives. (“We don’t deal with celebrities,” he admits. “They can’t afford our services.”) The firm’s rates start at around $500,000 per year, and offerings range from body-guarding and dispatching advance teams to scout out any potentially treacherous location to training families in self-defense. 

    SEAL training is rigorous and lasts a minimum of six months, during which candidates are tested on their ability to endure limited sleep, brutal cold and tremendous stress—excellent preparation, Padilla says, for security threats that would include kidnappings and corporate espionage. 

    As an ex-SEAL who now runs the Cleveland-based SEAL Team Consulting, Chris Heben thinks former SEALs offer something more complex than brawn and shooting skills. The extreme mind-set of former SEALs can be appealing to intense business types, while the strategic thinking required to plan a military raid lends them the ability to anticipate and prepare for any hazardous situation. “Clients will let us know where they’re going to be heading, from Timbuktu to the Sudan,” he says, “so we will act as an information-gathering service to look at the current threats in those areas.” 

    navy sealsIn 2012, a client reached out to Heben about plans to fly to a Mexican city plagued by drug wars. Allowing the executive to take the trip the way he had envisioned was a no-go for Heben. “We made daily security checks with the contacts I have within Mexico and gave him an update every morning,” he says. “We said, ‘If you’re hell-bent on going there, you’re not going to do it the way you think.” The team arranged for the client to fly into Brownsville, Texas, land on a U.S.-controlled airfield, and then drive into Mexico in the company of armed Mexican guards in cars retrofitted with armor. 

    Aiding Heben and Padilla is the incredible Rolodex that SEALs carry. With a network of alums working at the CIA, FBI, State Department and Department of Defense, as well as at contract firms, they have access to intelligence civilians could only dream of. “Your connections are deep, they’re varied, they’re strong and they’re very loyal,” Heben says.

    navy SEALsStill, there’s only so far even a SEAL can go. Padilla is adamant about refusing outlandish demands from clients, including requests to hold drugs or tail spouses, while Heben will refuse business that would willfully put his men in harm’s way. “Sometimes the best job is the one you don’t do,” he says. Indeed, the phenomenon of hiring ex-SEALs begs the question of whether your everyday billionaire truly requires the services of someone capable of the things a SEAL can do. 

    “In the United States, a lot of our clients don’t really need this kind of service,” he says. “But if you’re a billionaire, is it worth it? Absolutely.”

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    markus presson angry birds minecraft

    When Markus Persson, or "Notch," as he's known in the gaming community, created Minecraft in 2009, he had no idea how drastically it would change his life. 

    The game, which allows players to build and interact with an easy-to-use, Lego-like digital environment, has been downloaded more than 100 million times.

    And after Microsoft bought Mojang, the studio responsible for creating Minecraft, Persson's net worth soared to an estimated $1.5 billion

    "Well, on one hand I don’t mind having loads of money at all,"he said in a Reddit AMA in 2013. "On the other, it’s a bit strange that I can create something once and keep getting paid over and over and over for it. If you build a car, you can only sell it once. If you paint a fence, you only get paid for it once. If you create a piece of software that’s essentially free to reproduce, you can keep getting paid over and over perpetually."

    Notch leads a lifestyle to match his newfound wealth, one that's filled with private jets, EDM concerts, and multimillion-dollar mansions.

    Persson was born on June 1, 1979 in Edsbyn, a rural town north of Stockholm. He taught himself to code and was hired as a programmer at a web-design company when he was just 18.

    Source: Rolling Stone

    It took him just a week to design Minecraft, which explains the crude appearance of the game's graphics. "I just wanted to make a game that could make enough money to make another game," he told Rolling Stone. Notch released the alpha version of Minecraft in May of 2009. As time went on, he added more and more features to the game, allowing players to build and explore increasingly complicated Lego-style worlds.

    Source: Forbes


    Even before it was released as a full game, Minecraft was a huge hit. In September 2010, Persson and best friend Jakob Porser founded a video game company they called Mojang, to help them develop Minecraft and other games. Carl Menneh was brought on as CEO.

    Source: Forbes

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Michael Bloomberg

    The collective wealth of the world's 80 richest people matches the wealth of the poorest 50% of the population.

    That's according to new data from Oxfam, which says the super-rich are getting much richer.

    In 2010, it took 388 of the richest people to match half of the global wealth.

    It is a powerful comparison but can also be abstract.

    Indeed. Oxfam has been criticized for the way it calculates global wealth.

    What does all this money actually look like? We pulled the top names off Forbes' billionaire list to see if we could come up with equivalents that could help you picture their net worth.

    The Walton family: $160.2 billion

    The heirs to Wal-Mart founders Sam and Bud Walton are four of the 15 richest people in the world, with more than $160 billion split between Christy, Rob, Alice and Jim Walton. That's as much as Apple's notoriously large cash reserves.

    Bill Gates: $80.6 billion

    The Microsoft founder has donated much of his personal wealth via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He could still buy Uber twice, but just barely.

    Warren Buffet and Carlos Slim: About $73 billion apiece

    They're neck-and-neck for second place on Forbe's rich list. If they joined forces, they could level out the hit Russia's economy took this fall from sanctions and dropping oil prices.

    Another fun fact: Buffet earned $13.5 billion in 2013 alone, meaning it took him just two minutes to earn $51,900, the median household income in the U.S. This tool from Penny Stocks Lab calculates how long it took Buffet to earn your wage.

    Amancio Ortega: $61.4 billionAmancio Ortega

    The fashion tycoon hails from Spain, but his net worth is equal to the GDP of the Dominican Republic.

    Koch Brothers: $41 billion each

    Charles and David Koch are known for running Koch Industries, one of the largest privately held companies in the world, as well as for their political activism and charitable donations. With their personal fortunes, the brothers could both cover the costs of every major national election from 1998 to 2014 and still have several billion left over.

    Larry Elison: $54.5 billion

    His daughter is producing Oscar-winning movies, but with his personal wealth, Larry Elison could buy every team in the NFL plus half of the teams in the MLB.

    Liliane Bettencourt: $38 billion

    If the 92-year-old L'Oreal heiress wanted, she could fund the European Space Agency for about a decade, or NASA for two years.

    Michael Bloomberg: $35 billion

    The media mogul was mayor of New York, but his personal fortune almost exactly matches the Gross Metropolitan Product of Tuscon, Arizona.

     And that's just the start: there are 67 more billionaires in that top 80, adding up to a net worth of $1.9 trillion. 

    SEE ALSO: This Basic Trait Sets Billionaires Apart From The Rest Of Us

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    leonardo dicaprio great gatsby

    For all that is being written about hedge fund managers and their poorer cousins, the banking elite, about the expanding income gap, and about the new frugality and the changing American dream, the differences between the very rich and the rest of us are shrinking. 

    Up until the last part of the 1900’s, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s observation that “the very rich are different from you and me” certainly was true. And it wasn’t only, as Hemmingway later quipped, that they had more money. It was how that money transformed their lives and how it variegated society. But no longer.

    This might sound like a preposterous statement. But when we use the dollar differences in income to measure the gap, we are measuring it the wrong way. What matters is the practical impact, how the differences in income carry through to make a difference in how we live day by day, even hour by hour. A head to head income comparison does not measure that; it misses the effect of work habits and lifestyle, and, most critically, the effect of technological progress on filling in the income gap. Don’t stop with dollars earned. Ask how people earning those dollars spend their time.

    There is one thing everyone has in common, no matter what their income: They have twenty-four hours in a day. So differences in income can only be expressed by what they do in those twenty-four hours, and how they do it. Let’s observe snippets of a typical day in the life of Billionaire Malcolm III and compare it to High-Earning Professional Bob and think about how much the thousand-fold income differential between the two leads to differences in what they are doing and how they do it; how many minutes of the day their activities differ.

    A starting assumption is that both Bob and Malcolm III work hard. You probably do, too. You wouldn’t run off to spend the rest of your life on a beach in the south of France, really, even if you could. If the lifestyle in the get-rich-quick infomercials of sitting with unbounded leisure time is your end game, then you are on a different fork of the road than where this discussion is heading.

    Now let’s look at the time that Malcolm III and Bob spend on their workday activities and see what that extra billion does:

    iPhone 6 Gold camera

    Sleep Time. Seven to eight hours of the day, they are both asleep. They have beds, black-out shades, and a sound machine. So right off the bat around a third of the day is the same. 

    In the morning. They shower, shave, and get dressed. We are past the age of butlers drawing baths and helping lay out clothes, so there is no differences in this realm. And it’s dress-down day at work, so they both have on jeans and a polo shirt. They grab a coffee and bagel for breakfast. For Malcolm III it is ready and waiting in the kitchen thanks to his housekeeper. Bob stops for his on the way to work — his live-in girlfriend has already left and forgot to turn on the coffee machine. Still no difference worth thinking about.

    To the office. Malcolm III has a driver to take him to the office, Bob takes a taxi. Or drives himself. Bob’s car is an Acura TL Type S. Malcolm has, among other cars, a Porche 911 Turbo. On the open road, it can leave Bob’s Acura in the dust. Too bad they live in New York and not Frankfurt. 

    At work. They both are at their desks dealing with e-mails and then plan to spend some time polishing a presentation. Malcolm III has a team of administrative assistants outside his office to take care of his mundane tasks like travel and insurance. Bob has one secretary, and she does the same for him. Malcolm’s office is spacious with an antechamber, a sitting area and a lot of doodads and pictures with celebrities on his bookshelves. But look at what Malcolm and Bob are actually doing. They are engaged in the same sort of work with the same sort of equipment, and for all practical purposes they are occupying a forty square-foot world. For lunch they both eat a sandwich at their desk.

    In terms of their workday, I am ignoring some characteristics that we associate with the Malcolm’s of the world, things that really don’t have to do with Malcolm’s wealth per se. For example, he oversees many people and he can order those people around autocratically. His underlings have to listen to his philosophical views about building an open work culture, which make their way into company-wide e-mails and a spiral bound volume that he hands out around bonus time. These are coincident to being a billionaire, but being a billionaire is not required to have these trappings. There are generals, CEOs and government bureau chiefs in the same situation. And army lieutenants and factory floor supervisors.

    watching tvEvening Activities. Unwinding after work, they both happen to end up at The Modern, next to the MOMA, to meet business associates. Then off they go, home to have dinner, spend some time on the web, and then watch a movie. Malcolm III is doing this in a house that is five times the size of Bob's. Malcolm III’s house is a sprawling estate with a living room, dining room, library, sitting room, billiard room, sunroom, solarium, four fireplaces, a guest cottage and a pool. It has a large entry with a spiral staircase, marble floor, and mahogany woodwork. And so on.

    But it doesn’t matter — he is in a 200 square foot room to the side of the kitchen sitting on his couch twelve feet from his big-screen surround sound set, beer in hand, just like Bob is.

    Of course, there are some big differences, differences that will be manifest maybe twenty or thirty hours of any given month. Bob takes commercial flights, upgraded to business class, while Malcolm flies in his private jet. Malcolm shells out to be on various charity boards and spends time at gala events. In terms of pastimes, if Bob’s passion is breeding racehorses, the America’s Cup or collecting big name contemporary art, too bad. 

    Depending on their personalities and philosophical bent, even these differences might not matter all that much. For example, if Malcolm III is environmentally conscious, he doesn’t take a private jet. He drives a Prius rather than a Porche, and even takes the subway to work. If he is introverted or nerdish, then rather than hobnobbing at the black-tie events, his idea of a good social gathering is a small dinner with his friend who writes for Wired and the one who is researching nano biotechnology. And he will not care much about items of conspicuous consumption, because he doesn’t care about being conspicuous. Many in the technology sector have promulgated this ethos; it is an egalitarian side effect of the boom in technology.

    The point of this is to illustrate that the day-to-day impact of wealth is lower today. A century or so ago, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s era, there was little time during the waking hours when the activities of the very rich did not differ from those a rung or two down. Even if we look back a few decades we see that gaps have disappeared. Back then, only the wealthy could have a screening room in their home; drivers would stick fake antennas on their cars to impress passersby. Now Joe and Malcolm have the same computers, high-definition TVs, Blackberries and iPhones, game systems, Kindles, cameras – and these are the things that occupy most of their non-sleeping, non-showering lives. In fact, in terms of hour-by-hour activities, my kids are more Malcolm-like in many respects than I am. They have iPhones, Tivos, large screen monitors, Playstation game systems, and subscriptions to Netflix. I don’t.

    This analysis is interesting as far as it goes. Indeed, that it only goes so far is what makes it interesting. What I did for Malcolm III and Bob could also be done for the professional versus the skilled salaried worker, the skilled salaried worker versus the unskilled hourly worker, and so on down to those in extreme poverty working for a dollar a day. But as you continue down the income ladder from the Professional Bobs of the world, another dimension beyond how people are spending their hours becomes of increasing importance.

    Drop one more order of magnitude in income and compare Journalist Jamie to Malcolm III and Bob. The hour-by-hour comparisons will still work; Jamie will not differ that much from Bob in what he is doing with his time; certainly the differences will be far lower now than they would have been even a few decades ago. Even though Jamie does not have a secretary to help with his daily tasks, he can quickly dispatch most everything on line – except for the crazy time spent on hold with insurance and the cable company.

    homeless inequality povertyBut Jamie has a lot to worry about that Malcolm and Bob do not. Malcolm will never have to worry about money, Bob has a large nest egg to protect him against a downturn in his work, but for Jamie, one false step, and he has no way to pay for his house, no health insurance, uncertain prospects that extend out to the future opportunities for his children.

    The reduction in the practical implications of income differences at the higher end of the income scale has created a plateau where there used to be a hill. But that plateau has a stark cliff at the edge. Jamie might be on the plateau shared by Malcolm and Bob, doing much the same with his time as they are, but he is closer to that cliff. If Jamie loses his job he is no longer looking down at the abyss, he is over the edge.

    The flatter the plateau and the more sudden and deep the abyss, the stronger the argument for social programs, because the costs of redistribution for those on the plateau are lower in practical terms, and the fall from the plateau is more crushing. In the limit, if the plateau is completely flat, so that there is no practical difference in income within the upper range, people should be indifferent about moving along that plateau toward the cliff if at the same time the cliff can be securely fenced off.

    Put in other terms, more akin to the way we think about financial trade-offs, there is both the expected value of one’s income (measured by what it does for you in practical terms) and the uncertainty surrounding it. As the means from one person to the next converge, the uncertainty takes on increasing significance. As the “how you spend your time” differential shrinks, a reduction in uncertainty through an improvement in the safety net becomes of increasing importance. Indeed, in the limit, if everyone is typically spending their time doing the same things, reducing this uncertainty is all that matters.

    Rick Bookstaber is Research Principal in the Office of Financial Research and recently was Senior Policy Adviser to the Financial Stability Oversight Council and Senior Policy Adviser at the SEC. This article and others at his blog represent his personal opinion and not the views of those organizations.

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    Economic Policy Institute map wealth

    On Monday, we released new estimates of top incomes by state for 2012, based on the work done by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. Coincidentally, Saez just released a preliminary update to 2013 of the national top-income time series. Saez’s key finding is that the average income of the top 1% in the US fell in 2013 by 14.9%. This decline at the top was large enough to lower overall average incomes in 2013 by 3.2%. The good news is, the bottom 99% saw their earnings climb — but by a very modest and somewhat disappointing 0.2%.

    Illustrating that the top 1% really are different from you and me, Saez notes the fall in income at the top is due to high-income earners shifting income from 2013 to 2012 in an effort to reduce their tax liabilities in anticipation of higher top marginal tax rates which took effect in 2013. In an earlier EPI analysis in October 2014, Lawrence Mishel and Will Kimball reported on the decline of wages among the top 1% of wage earners, which prefigured these results for households. Similarly, Mishel and Kimball also noted the changes in taxes and suggested this decline was probably only temporary.

    Saez expects top incomes to rebound in 2014, but fall short of their 2012 values. Indeed, James Parrott of the Fiscal Policy Institute noted in his summary of New York state top-income trends (look up your state’s top income trends here) that data from the New York State Division of the Budget indicate that the top 1%'s share of New York personal income-tax liability is expected to reach 42.5% in 2015 — just shy of its 2012 value of 43.2%.

    So the bottom line is top income growth paused briefly in 2013, but all signs point to a return to growth when we get the data for 2014 and 2015. The bottom 99 percent experienced slight income gains in 2013, but given trends in wage growth it may be a while before we see much stronger gains in income for the rest of us.

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    Jeff Greene

    Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Florida billionaire Jeff Greene created a stir when he reportedly suggested that Americans need to downsize their lifestyle

    "America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence,"Greene told Bloomberg News' Matthew G. Miller in an interview last week. "We need to reinvent our whole system of life."

    Miller pointed out that Greene flew to the elite economic gathering on his private jet with his his wife Mei Sze, children, and their nanny. 

    In an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell" on Wednesday, Greene said that he "was completely misquoted," not misunderstood. He also said that the comments were made in a "busy, noisy room" and "maybe [Miller] didn't hear me." 

    A rep for Bloomberg News says that the company stands by its reporting. 

    The 60-year-old Palm Beach resident has an estimated net worth of $3 billion, according to Forbes. He reportedly owns five mansions and a megayacht. 

    In 2010, Greene attempted to run for United States Senate as a Democrat.

    He has also signed Warren Buffett and Bill Gates' "Giving Pledge," which encourages the super-wealthy to give a large percentage of their income to charity.

    Here are some photos of Greene's private jet: 

    Jeff Greene JetJeff Greene JetJeff Greene JetJeff Greene JetJeff Greene jetJeff Greene Jet


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    vinod khosla court

    On December 1, San Mateo County Court Judge Barbara Mallach issued a final order requiring Silicon Valley billionaire Vinod Khosla to immediately restore public access to Martin's Beach.

    Khosla purchased a 53-acre parcel adjacent to Martins Beach for $37.5 million in 2008.

    The Surfrider Foundation first filed suit against Khosla's Martins Beach LLC in March 2013.

    According to the ruling Mallach passed down in September, Khosla was in violation of the California Coastal Act when he neglected to obtain a permit before posting signage and locking a public access gate that led down to the beach. 

    Still, the battle for Martins Beach is far from over.

    This week his lawyers filed a motion to request a stay, or delaying of enforcement, of Mallach's ruling that Khosla restore public access to be the way it was under the Deeney family, the property's previous owners. 

    According to documents filed with the motion, beach visitors have resisted property manager Jim Deeney's efforts to enforce a $10 fee at the gate to the beach. 

    "I continue to open the gate at Martins Beach to allow paid, permissive access, on the historical terms that were enforced for decades before my family sold the property to the current owner. When weather permits and when someone is available to collect the fee, the gate on the property is open for vehicular access only, upon payment of a $ 10 fee. On days when the gate is open, despite my efforts to operate the business as it was historically operated, cars repeatedly drive past me and refuse to pay the $10 fee," Deeney wrote in the motion. "On days when the gate is open, pedestrians often walk right past me and refuse to leave after I advise them that no walk-ins are allowed and that they need to get their vehicle and pay the $10 fee, or leave."

    martin's beach

    Deeney adds that he has had threats made against him both in person and on social media.

    He alleges that he has seen visitors "yell obscenities" and "make lewd gestures" when he tries to charge them $10 at the gate. He also claims to have seen members of the Surfrider Foundation walk down without paying the fee.

    "My family never permitted free walk-ins to access the beach during their ownership, which spanned over 100 years," he said.

    Deeney cites one particularly disturbing incident from December.

    "I stepped out of my truck to collect the $10 fee and the man was immediately confrontational, saying I could not charge him a fee to go to the beach because 'the Judge f----ng said,'" Deeney writes in the motion. "He pulled up next to the with the passenger side window rolled down, pointed his right hand at me as if he were holding a gun, and yelled 'I'm going to come back and shoot your a--.'"

    "I was afraid for my life and immediately closed the gate so the man could not come back and contacted the Sheriff."

    Surfrider condemned the behavior, but said it isn't a reason the public should be blocked from the beach.

    "Surfrider does not condone or approve of such conduct. The online threats attached to the pleadings were made by two individuals, neither of whom are members of Surfrider,"Eric Buescher, an attorney representing Surfrider with the firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, said to Business Insider. "The ownership should not use the inappropriate actions of a very small minority as a crutch to justify its illegal conduct in preventing the public from accessing and using Martins Beach."

    SEE ALSO: A Silicon Valley Billionaire Could Be Forced To Sell His Walkway To The Beach

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    paul allen

    With an estimated net worth of $17 billion, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen can afford to buy himself some fancy toys. 

    But with interests that range from electric guitars to World War II aircraft, Allen takes expensive hobbies to a whole new level. 

    He also happens to own the Seattle Seahawks, who will be playing for their second consecutive Super Bowl win this weekend. 

    We've rounded up some of the billionaire's most ridiculous toys, from professional sports teams to submarines.

    Sports are a major passion of Allen's — he's a part owner of the Seattle Sounders, and he bought the Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 and the Seattle Seahawks in 1997.

    After the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014, Allen threw a massive party that featured live performances from Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, as well as a set by Allen himself. After the party, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told the Washington Post: "Paul was hot last night, he was tearing it up — big licks. He had a lot of notable artists with him, too, playing. He’s got a great roster also. They sounded great ... I think Paul picked up the bill, too."

    Source: Business Insider

    His Seahawks will get another chance at a championship when they head to the Super Bowl this Sunday. "The first time you go you’re kind of amazed to be there," he told the Seattle Times. "The thing is, once you’re in the Super Bowl, you want to win. As time goes on, you want to win more and more." It seems like he's ready for the post-game celebrations — he reportedly had a custom amplifier made just for the occasion, with knobs that go all the way to 12.

    Source: Seattle Times, Puget Sound Business Journal

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Stanley Ho glass toast

    He's technically no longer in the business, but casino tycoon Stanley Ho's influence on world wide gambling is impossible to ignore.

    The 92-year-old billionaire is single-handedly responsible for creating Macau's most profitable industry — it brings in 80 percent of the city's revenue.

    Ho has been referred to as 'The King of Gambling,' 'The King of Macau,' and Macau's 'underground governor.' In 2011, Forbes ranked Ho the 13th richest man in Hong Kong with an estimated net worth of $3.1 billion. 

    Macau's casinos have suffered a hit in recent months, but the vast presence Ho and his company SJM Holdings is nothing short of impressive. 

    So what's it like to build a billion dollar empire from scratch? 

    Stanley Ho was born into China's well-known and powerful Hotung family in 1921.

    However, his father went bankrupt during his childhood and two of his brothers committed suicide.

    Source: The Telegraph

    Ho received a scholarship to attend University of Hong Kong but didn't finish his degree.

    He dropped out when his family was forced to flee Hong Kong for Macau. This was during the Second World War, when the Japanese invaded. 

    Source: The Telegraph

    He made partner at an import-export firm in Macau by age 22.

    His fortune first came from running luxury goods into China during the war, and he later started a kerosene company.

    Source: The Telegraph

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    steve cohen anthony scaramucciBOSTON (Reuters) - Billionaire Steven A. Cohen, who oversees only his personal fortune after decades of running one of the world's biggest hedge funds, wants to recruit newly minted college graduates into his army of hundreds of investment professionals.

    Less than 16 months after Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors pleaded guilty to insider trading charges, the successor firm, Point72 Asset Management, is shifting its focus from hiring seasoned investors to bringing in talent that it can shape in-house, a spokesman for the firm said.

    The $10 billion firm, which employs 850 people, including 350 investment professionals, expects a new website, to help recruiting.

    At the same time, Cohen, 58, is not looking for outside clients, his spokesman Mark Herr said in an e-mail, noting that the website makes clear on every page that the firm is a family office. SAC was prohibited from managing outside capital and invests only Cohen's personal fortune.

    Cohen's style of stock picking has always been labor intensive and the firm has long had been among the industry's largest, with staffing near current levels. But as employees leave, some to start their own hedge funds, Cohen is looking to replace them with industry newcomers.

    "We've launched a campus recruiting program for undergraduates unique among hedge funds," Herr wrote.

    Cohen traditionally hired analysts and portfolio managers with long resumes who had often worked at other hedge funds to deliver the 25 percent average annual return that attracted scores of big-name investors to SAC.

    At Point72, Herr said, three-quarters of the firm's portfolio managers are now "homegrown" compared with seven years ago, when 80 percent joined from elsewhere. Last year Point72 hired 78 analysts.

    Many of Cohen's long-time employees, including Sol Kumin and Gabe Plotkin, have left and are launching their own hedge funds, where they can collect management and incentive fees.

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    jim clark boat

    Silicon Valley legend Jim Clark made it big when Netscape, the web browser company he founded with Marc Andreessen, went public in 1995.

    Twenty years later, Clark is worth an estimated $1.5 billion, thanks in part to large timely investments in Apple, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Clark lives the life one would expect of a billionaire, with multiple mansions, racing yachts, private jets, and a model wife. 

    Clark is a high-school dropout from Plainview, Texas. After getting his GED, B.S., and Ph.D., he went on to become a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford. He founded the visual-effects company Silicon Graphics in 1982 and Netscape with Marc Andreessen in 1994.

    Source: The Almanac

    With the success of Netscape and its incredibly popular Navigator browser, Clark and Andreessen became the first to capitalize on the World Wide Web. Clark's wealth grew after the company's extremely successful IPO in August 1995. He later became a billionaire thanks to timely investments in Apple and Facebook.

    Source: Forbes

    Clark has developed numerous expensive hobbies in the 20 years since Netscape's IPO. As a former Navy man, Clark is perhaps most passionate about sailing. His latest watercraft is the new 100-foot monohull sailboat he named "Comanche." Though he hasn't shared how much the boat cost to build, he told the Australian Associated Press, "Boats of this type are sort of like building a Formula 1 car. They are expensive."

    Source: Daily Mail


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Ira Rennet Fair Field Sagaponack

    Ira Rennert, the hermetic billionaire who made his fortune raiding companies through junk bonds, is now being sued for funneling money from a mining business to build his 110,000-square-foot Hamptons mansion.

    Crains' Aaron Elstein reported that Rennert was in federal court on Tuesday to face the defunct Magnesium Corporation of America's creditors, who claim he siphoned off $100 million from the ailing company.

    Renco Group, Rennert's holding company, acquired MagCorp back in 1989 and began issuing millions of dollars worth of bonds. But rather than being invested in the magnesium company, that money went directly to Renco Group, and, allegedly, into Rennert's pocket.

    The allegations get messier after that: Rennert then built a new company that bought up land  63 acres, to be exact  for his gargantuan Hamptons home (dubbed Fairfield, it's thought to be one of the largest mansions in America). Shortly afterward, the magnesium market began to crumble and MagCorp filed for bankruptcy.

    Creditors are now seeking $118 million, plus interest. Get ready for an entertaining trial.

    Read the full story from Crain's >>

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