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The latest news on Billionaires from Business Insider

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    Richard Branson's 74-acre Necker Island is well-known for being a paradise where celebrities and entrepreneurs can escape to party and unwind far from the public eye.

    But it's somewhat less known that the billionaire founder of the Virgin Group also owns a second Caribbean retreat, Moskito Island, about a mile away from Necker. 

    Branson bought Moskito Island in 2007 for a reported purchase price of $10 million.

    moskito island

    The island is currently home to a population of ring-tailed lemurs that Branson imported from zoos in Canada, South Africa, and Sweden. Branson has also moved a number of Necker's endangered iguanas over to Moskito. 

    The Virgin Group is in the early stages of developing the island. The construction team has finished installing basic infrastructure — electricity, plumbing, etc. — and a three-villa compound for the Branson family, which a Virgin spokesperson referred to as the "Headland Estate." 

    The island also has nine private lots, all of which will be developed into villas. All nine of the lots have been sold to unnamed buyers, and construction on the first villa will begin this year, the Virgin spokesperson said.

    moskito island

    Facilities include a pool area and a clubhouse filled with teak decorations. According to Forbes, there will eventually be large tennis courts with a two-story viewing pavilion.

    moskito islandmoskito islandThe pool area fronts the beach.

    moskito islandmoskito islandAnd there's plenty of lush greenery all around.

    moskito island

    The island hasn't officially opened for business yet, but it looks like some lucky travelers have gotten a sneak peek.




    SEE ALSO: How Richard Branson likes to prank guests on his private island

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Richard Branson Describes The Early Moment That Changed His Career Forever

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    nick woodman gopro

    Nick Woodman keeps his promises.

    The GoPro founder and CEO returned 4.7 million shares worth $229 million as part of an agreement he made with his college roommate 10 years ago, according to Bloomberg.

    Neil Dana, who attended the University of California at San Diego with Woodman, was GoPro's first employee. He currently serves as the company's director of music and specialty sales.

    When GoPro was in its early days, Woodman promised to give Dana 10% of any money he made from selling GoPro shares. Woodman founded GoPro in 2004, initially just making wrist straps for small cameras and then eventually branching out into building the hardware itself. 

    In 2011, GoPro issued Dana 6 million fully vested options in addition to 270,000 restricted stock units, Bloomberg reports. Woodman agreed that he would reimburse GoPro when those options were exercised.

    Dana spent $3.6 million to exercise his options this week. Woodman's net worth will fall to $2.3 billion after he returns the $229 million worth of shares to GoPro.

    GoPro went public on June 26, 2014. According to documents filed with the SEC, Woodman's mom, dad, and two sisters all became millionaires, and Woodman became a billionaire.

    Woodman was the highest-paid CEO in the US last year, with compensation of 4.5 million restricted stock units valued at $284.5 million.

    SEE ALSO: The awesome life of GoPro's Nick Woodman, America's highest-paid CEO

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: GoPro video captures gravity-defying stunts of kitesurfers in South Africa

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    larry ellison champagne

    As a child, Larry Ellison's adoptive father repeatedly told him he was good for nothing, according to Fortune.

    Today, Forbes estimates Ellison's net worth at $54 billion, making him the third-richest person in the US.

    Before he founded Oracle, the database software firm that made his fortune, Ellison grew up in a working-class Chicago family of Jewish immigrants.

    "I was raised on the South Side of Chicago," he said in an oral history for the Smithsonian Institution. "I remember Look Magazine called it the oldest and worst black ghetto in the United States."

    When Ellison was born in 1944, his mother was unmarried, according to a profile in Fortune. She gave him to relatives to raise, and Ellison never met his biological father.

    He dropped out of college twice — first from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, then the University of Chicago — before moving to California and working odd jobs.

    In his oral history, he recalled, "I never took a computer science class in my life. I got a job working as a programmer; I was largely self-taught. I just picked up a book and started programming."

    When Ellison landed a programming job at Ampex Corporation, one of his responsibilities at the company was building a database for the CIA, Business Insider's Madeline Stone notes. In 1977, he and two coworkers left Ampex to start a database management company of their own.

    larry ellison child

    Knowing that no one would want to take a risk on a brand new product, Ellison and his cofounders chose not to label their first release "Version 1.0." 

    "The very first version was Oracle Version 2," he admitted at a customer conference last year.

    Their ploy worked. Oracle's first customer was a big one: the CIA. Their product later became the most popular database ever sold. That success paid off for Ellison — according to the Wall Street Journal, he was the highest-paid executive in the US before he stepped down as CEO in 2014.

    Larry Ellison from ReutersBut becoming a billionaire was never his goal, he told the Smithsonian Institution. "When I started Oracle, what I wanted to do was to create an environment where I would enjoy working. That was my primary goal. Sure, I wanted to make a living. I certainly never expected to become rich, certainly not this rich."

    Now 70, Ellison has a lifestyle that he could only have dreamed of during his working-class Chicago childhood.

    "This is all kind of surreal," he told Mike Wilson, the author of "The Difference Between God and Larry Ellison.""I don't even believe it now. Not only did I not believe it when I was 14, but when I look around, I say, this must be something out of a dream."

    Ellison collects cars and private jets, and has his own America's Cup sailing team. His incredible real-estate portfolio includes a private golf club in Rancho Mirage, California; a $70 million house in Silicon Valley; the former summer home of the Astor family in Newport, Rhode Island; a historic garden villa in Kyoto, Japan; and the entire Hawaiian island of Lanai. And because he loves basketball, he's installed courts on at least two of his yachts.

    He has also given hundreds of millions of dollars to charity, particularly medical research and education. He also says that he plans to give billions more.

    Clearly, he's proven his adoptive father wrong.

    SEE ALSO: The 9 Youngest Billionaires In The World

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: JAMES ALTUCHER: Why investing in a 401(k) is a complete waste of money

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    zuckerberg chan marriedIn October 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg paid more than $100 million for 750 acres of secluded land on the North Shore of Kauai. 

    The purchase included two separate parcels: the Kahu'aina Plantation, a 357-acre former sugarcane plantation, and Pila'a Beach, a 393-acre property with bright white sand.

    The property is large enough for a set of villas or even a resort. But Zuckerberg apparently plans to only build one home: an ultra-private island hideaway for himself and his inner circle. 

    "When the whole thing is said and done, he might be approaching $200 million on total purchase price," Steve Hunt, a tax manager for Kauai County, said to the Pacific Business News. "This is someone who can afford to buy whatever he wants to buy and he’ll pay the price he needs to get, and privacy is a bigger issue to him than anything else."

    zuckerberg hawaii

    Zuckerberg's desire to sequester his family is understandable, given Silicon Valley's generally stifling atmosphere, and, more specifically, a recent lawsuit involving his home in Palo Alto.

    The suit, filed by developer Mircea Voskerician in May 2014, centers around Zuckerberg's 2013 purchase of four houses adjacent to his home in Palo Alto's Crescent Park neighborhood. 

    At the time, it seemed like an odd splurge, and many wondered if Zuckerberg was trying to assemble a compound of sorts.

    But there was a reason behind the purchase. Voskerician had reportedly told Zuckerberg that he planned to build a large, 9,600-square-foot house on one of the lots behind his property. The home, Voskerician allegedly said, would have a direct view into the master bedroom shared by Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan. 

    Mark ZuckerbergSo Voskerician made Zuckerberg a deal: He would sell Zuckerberg the entire property at a discount if the Facebook billionaire would introduce the developer to his important Silicon Valley contacts. 

    Zuckerberg paid Voskerician $1.7 million for the rights to the property, and then bought the lot from its owners for $4.8 million, according to county records.

    But Voskerician says his interest in the property was worth far more than $1.7 million, and that he gave Zuckerberg a discount because of the business his referrals would potentially bring in.

    Apparently that never happened, hence the lawsuit.

    Zuckerberg's lawyers have called Voskerician's tactics "extortive" and say that he is "going out of his way to embarrass Mr. Zuckerberg and pressure those around him at every turn."

    "It’s stuff like this that makes me so sad and angry," Chan wrote in an email unearthed in the lawsuit.

    Divesh Makan, Zuckerberg's financial adviser, later bought the three other homes around Zuckerberg's house, further guaranteeing his privacy. The homes were purchased for $10.5 million, $14 million, and $14.5 million, according to county records.

    zuckerberg house

    According to Arthur Sharif, a realtor who specializes in luxury real estate in Silicon Valley, it's not all that uncommon to see wealthy people scooping up multiple lots to assemble a bubble of isolation around their homes.

    "That happens all the time," Sharif told Business Insider. "Some people will say to us, 'I don’t care what’s on the market. Just go knock on the neighbor's door, say I like the house, and I’ll pay for the inconvenience of moving.'"

    In fact, Sharif said, selling a home just to assemble it as part of larger property is actually somewhat easier than your typical home sale. A home that's meant to serve as a buffer doesn't require as much inspection and maintenance. 

    The opportunity can even be attractive to people who are being bought out by wealthier neighbors. 

    "Some people feel like they’ve won the lottery if that happens to them. Usually the house sells for over market value, and maybe they’d want to move in a few years anyway," Sharif said. "If someone is trying to do an assemblage, they don’t even need to see the house. They just need the property."

    mcdonalds mark zuckerberg priscilla chan honeymoonAcquiring extreme wealth means being able to provide for yourself, but family members usually reap the benefits, too. 

    "For people like Mark Zuckerberg, maybe privacy is necessary, but that's not always the main reason for buying the home next door," realtor Eric Boyenga said. "Some do it to have family members close by, maybe so that the in-laws can watch the kids."

    Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has deployed similar tactics. In October 2013, she paid a reported $11.2 million for the Roller & Hapgood & Tinney funeral home, located just a few doors down from her home in Palo Alto.

    Though it's still unclear what exactly Mayer plans to do with the property, the mortuary proved to be the perfect location for her annual Halloween party last year. The former funeral parlor was transformed into a haunted house for the day, much to the chagrin of a neighbor who complained on a local web site.

    funeral home marissa mayer

    Elon Musk has done a similar thing in Los Angeles. In November 2013, he paid $6.75 million for a teardown across the street from his $17 million Bel-Air mansion.  

    Still, it's not as if Mayer and Musk are negotiating these kinds of deals themselves.

    Sharif says that it's very common to have his open houses attended by what he calls a "scout," someone hired by a wealthy individual for the sole purpose of scoping out potential real-estate investments. Homes are often bought and sold under LLCs linked to scouts or business managers. 

    "This is from the very wealthiest people, like [Microsoft cofounder] Paul Allen, all the way down the spectrum. It's because they don't want people to know what they're buying," Sharif said. "That’s part of how we can tell it’s someone notable who's interested in the property."

    Renovating homes 

    Many wealthy executives buying luxury real estate have a very clear picture of what they want in a home, from custom-built home-automation systems to environmentally conscious sprinklers and pools. 

    Peninsula Custom Homes is a construction firm that specializes in building custom luxury homes in the Bay Area. 

    "These clients are very used to dreaming things up and saying, 'That’s how I want it,'" Bryan Murphy, president of Peninsula Custom Homes, said to Business Insider. "For architects, we have to more creative to accomplish what they want. There’s no manual for this."

    peninsula custom homes

    As far as the company's clientele, Murphy said the company often builds homes for tech executives, many of whom work in biotech, as well as the VCs who fund startups and the bankers who finance the deals.

    "Most clients have a Tesla," he said.

    Energy efficiency is one thing that PCH is consistently asked to consider by clients. As California suffers through a crippling drought, many clients ask what they can do to improve their irrigation systems.

    He couldn't speak more specifically than that, however, which is consistent across the industry. Most people working for the wealthiest in the tech community are asked to sign nondisclosure agreements that bar them from discussing the details of their employment. 

    This includes everyone who might be involved with the remodeling of a home: architects, painters, carpenters, gardeners, and cleaners, just to name a few. 

    "Privacy has definitely been more of a focus recently, especially with the easy access to information that comes with social media," Murphy said. "Some tech executives are having their own technology used against them in that way."

    In addition to his homes in Palo Alto and Kauai, Zuckerberg also has a house in San Francisco.

    It's currently undergoing an extensive renovation, including $65,000 worth of renovation work on the kitchen and bathrooms, $750,000 for an addition to the rear and side of the house, and $25,000 to make the fourth floor "habitable." There's an additional $720,000 for an office, media room, half bathroom, mudroom, laundry room, wine room, and wet bar, in addition to a new second-floor half bathroom and remodel of the second, third, and fourth floors.

    Each of the construction workers has signed an NDA, according to the New York Times.

    zuckerberg house

    Parking in Zuckerberg's San Francisco neighborhood is notoriously difficult. To make sure construction workers would have somewhere to park in the morning — and, presumably, to prevent people from snooping around — the Facebook billionaire allegedly hired pairs of people to sit in cars parked near the house at night.

    "This is nothing short of a fortress," one disgruntled neighbor told The San Francisco Chronicle in September. 

    Managing the properties

    Tech billionaires who've accumulated a number of properties will most likely need help managing it. Family offices — companies that help the wealthy manage their money — have become big, secretive businesses.

    Google cofounder Sergey Brin has employed as many as 47 people through Bayshore Global Management, a private company that manages his real-estate investments and personal affairs. 

    Current and former Bayshore employees contacted by Business Insider declined to comment on their work. 

    But a scan of LinkedIn profiles show that Bayshore employs a former Navy SEAL, an ex-Secret Service agent, and a former SWAT team leader for his security detail. 

    Brin has a home in New York City's West Village, in addition to the family's Los Altos Hills residence. Each house has a staff managed by Bayshore, which was named for the part of Mountain View, California, where Google is based. He also employs property managers, domestic staff, and a personal shopper.

    SEE ALSO: How to buy a private island — even if you're not a tech billionaire

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's the dirty little secret contractors don't want you to know

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    JK Rowling

    On a delayed train journey from Manchester to King's Cross station in London, the characters Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger came "fully formed" to the mind of a young temp named Joanne Rowling.

    In the six tumultuous years following, she would imagine an entire magical world of witches and wizards, assume the pen name J.K. Rowling, and publish "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone," the first novel in the now beloved "Harry Potter" series.

    Rowling has since become the UK's best-selling living author and one of the wealthiest women in the world, but not before overcoming the hardships of being a single mother living on welfare.

    Born in the southwest of England, Rowling grew up along the border of England and Wales with her mother, father, and sister.

    On her website she wrote that she had always known she would be a book author. "As soon as I knew what writers were, I wanted to be one. I've got the perfect temperament for a writer; perfectly happy alone in a room, making things up."

    She wrote her first book (about a rabbit named Rabbit) at age six, and when her mother praised her work, she says she "stood there and thought, 'Well, get it published then.'"

    JK Rowling childhood home Church Cottage, Tutsville, EnglandRowling's teenage years weren't particularly happy, she told The New Yorker, claiming she came from a difficult family and saying her mother's 10-year battle with multiple sclerosis took a toll on her and the family.

    She describes the most traumatizing moment in her life as the day her mother died — it was New Year's Day in 1991 when Rowling was 25. This was six months after she began writing "Harry Potter," and she lamented that her mother never knew she was writing it. The loss of her own mother would eventually lead Rowling to make Harry Potter suffer the death of his parents.

    "My books are largely about death," she told the Telegraph in 2006, referencing not only the death of Harry's parents, but also the villain Voldemort's obsession with immortality. "I so understand why Voldemort wants to conquer death. We're all frightened of it."

    After her mother's death, Rowling moved to northern Portugal for a fresh start and taught English as a foreign language. She started dating a man named Jorge Arantes, became pregnant, and moved into a small two-bedroom apartment with Arantes' mother.

    The couple miscarried, but they married in October 1992. Rowling later gave birth to a daughter, Jessica, in July 1993.

    The rocky marriage lasted a mere 13 months, and Rowling and Jessica returned to the UK to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, not long after. She carried three chapters of "Harry Potter" in her suitcase with her.

    Living in a cramped apartment with her daughter, jobless and penniless, Rowling fell into a deep depression and admits she even considered suicide. She was forced to rely on state benefits and spent much of her time writing "Harry Potter" in cafés with Jessica sleeping in the pram next to her.

    "An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless ... By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew," Rowling said during a 2008 Harvard University commencement speech.

    The Elephant House JK Rowling wrote Harry PotterAfter receiving "loads" of rejections from book publishers when she first sent out the manuscript, Bloomsbury, a publishing house in London, gave "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" the green light in 1997. She added the "K" to her pen name (for Kathleen, her paternal grandmother) at the publisher's request, since women's names were found to be less appealing to the target audience of young boys.

    According to the book "Who the Hell Is Pansy O'Hara?: The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books," three days after the Harry Potter book was published in the UK, Scholastic bid $100,000 for the American publishing rights, an unprecedented amount for a children's book at the time.

    Her series of seven books has since sold more than 450 million copies, won innumerable awards, been made into movies, and transformed Rowling's life.

    In 2011, Forbes estimated Rowling to be worth about $1 billion, but she has since fallen from the publication's list of the world's billionaires after reportedly giving some of her wealth to charity. She remains on its lists of the most powerful celebrities and the world's top-earning authors.

    The very best thing her wealth has given her, she wrote on her website, is the absence of worry. "I have not forgotten what it feels like to worry whether you'll have enough money to pay the bills. Not to have to think about that anymore is the biggest luxury in the world."

    SEE ALSO: From dirt poor to a $7 billion fortune — the incredible rags-to-riches story of Ralph Lauren

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Richard Branson Describes The Early Moment That Changed His Career Forever

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    Steve BallmerFormer Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is famous for being full of energy. During his 14-year tenure, he often jumped around on stage at events, did crazy dances, and yelled his lungs out.

    Ballmer has brought the same intensity to his new role as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. He bought the basketball team for a record $2 billion last year. 

    "I want them to be hardcore," he told Bloomberg in August, before the season began.

    The Clippers were eliminated by the Houston Rockets in the second round of the playoffs Sunday.

    To honor the end of Ballmer's first season as team owner, we've taken a look back at some of his greatest moments over the years.

    In what was arguably Ballmer's most memorable moment, the then-Microsoft CEO jumped up on a stage, yelling and dancing, before beginning a presentation at an early 2000s Microsoft event. Many people refer to the moment as Ballmer's "monkey boy dance."

    Watch it on YouTube »

    At another event, he got really sweaty while chanting "developers, developers" over and over.

    Watch it on YouTube »

    At a conference in 2008, an attendee asked Ballmer to get up and show his love for web developers. He happily obliged.

    Watch it on YouTube»

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Oaktree Capital chairman Howard Marks has listed his 8-bedroom, 4,536-square-foot Central Park South apartment for $50 million.

    It's the second time he's listed the full-floor unit, located at 50 Central Park South and designed by Michael Smith, who also designed the 2010 Oval Office makeover.

    Marks, who reportedly paid close to $19 million for the apartment back in 2007, originally listed it in July 2012 and asked for $50 million at that time too.

    The luxury condo, dubbed "Versailles in the Sky," has a 92-foot expanse – spanning 5 separate rooms – overlooking the park, according to the listing.

    It's one of only 12 large condos located above the Ritz-Carlton, and includes a private residential lobby and an on-site gym and spa.

    The apartment is listed with Roberta Golubock at Sotheby's International Reality.

    First, here's the floor plan.

    The living room has "stucco veneziano" walls and "parquet de Versailles-patterned" German silver floors.

    Each room boasts 10-foot ceilings.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    rothkoLast week, a Picasso painting called "The Women of Algiers (Version 0)"fetched $179.4 million minutes before a bronze statue by Alberto Giacometti called "Man Pointing" sold for $141.3 million.  

    The buyers were anonymous, though a recent New York Times article narrowed the potential Picasso buyers down to 50 suspects — some of whom made their fortunes in tech. 

    Tech titans have a taste for expensive art. We've rounded up some of the biggest purchases here.

    Bill Gates set what was then an American art record when he bought Winslow Homer's "Lost on the Grand Banks" for $36 million in 1998. The painting hangs on a wall outside his home library.

     Source: Bloomberg

    Inside his library is Childe Hassam's "Room of Flowers," a piece that's believed to be worth $20 million.

    Source: Bloomberg

    He also owns a painting by George Bellows called "Polo Crowd." Gates bought the piece anonymously at a Sotheby's auction in 1999, paying a whopping $27.5 million to add it to his collection.

    Source: Bloomberg


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    meadow lane billionaires southampton

    Owning a big apartment in New York City is great, but having a mansion in the Hamptons is a privilege only the 1% of the 1% can enjoy.

    And there may be no more exclusive place to own an East End home than Southampton's Meadow Lane, which Forbes once dubbed "billionaire lane."

    Not only do Meadow Lane residents have access to a long stretch of private beach, but the median sale price of a home there was just under $18 million in 2012, according to PropertyShark, making it one of the most expensive streets in the US.

    The five-mile road even has a helipad to whisk its famous residents off to Manhattan.

    Julie Zeveloff contributed to this story.

    Meadow Lane is one of the most expensive addresses in the country, and no wonder — it runs along a coveted beachfront strip in one of the most exclusive towns in the Hamptons. The millionaires and billionaires who live there all reside within throwing distance on the same stretch of road.

    Source: Forbes


    They also live within easy access of the Southampton Heliport, useful to anyone who travels from Manhattan to the Hamptons by helicopter.

    Source: Forbes

    In mid-2014, the Hamptons home where Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson holed up in "Something's Gotta Give" sold for $41 million to hotel mogul Jimmy Tisch of Loews Corp. The 8,000-square-foot mansion has 11 bedrooms.

    Source: New York Daily News

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    sara blakely

    In 2012, Spanx founder Sara Blakely became the youngest self-made female billionaire at age 41, according to Forbes.

    As the company's sole owner, Blakely's ingenious invention has made her rich. 

    Forbes currently estimates her net worth at $1.01 billion.

    Though she's far less extravagant than other billionaires, she's still making the most of her success.

    Sara Blakely was born on February 27, 1971 in the beach town of Clearwater, Florida, and demonstrated an entrepreneurial instinct from an early age. At Halloween, she'd set up a haunted house, then charge her neighbors admission.

    Source: Forbes

    After graduating from Florida State University, she struggled to find a job and ended up working at Disney World. She thought about going to law school, but crashed and burned on the LSAT. The only job that she could find was selling fax machines.

    Source: Business Insider, Forbes

    That job ended up paying off, because it prompted her to invent Spanx. One night, she couldn't find the right hosiery to wear under white pants, so she decided to invent her own. Her first "office" was her Atlanta apartment.

    Source: Business Insider

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Bill Gates Summer Books

    Whether you want to launch an empire or become the best in your field, who better to consult than those who've achieved the peak of professional and financial success?

    That's why we've rounded up 15 books by self-made billionaires. Learn how these masters of industry achieved the impossible, in their own words.

    'The Virgin Way' by Richard Branson

    Although Branson confesses he's never read a book on leadership, his nearly 50-year entrepreneurial career has taught him a thing or two about building a business.

    In "The Virgin Way," the billionaire founder of Virgin Group offers lessons on management and entrepreneurialism, including the importance of listening to others and hiring the right people. Branson is honest about his successes as well as his failures, such as underestimating Coke's influence when he tried to launch Virgin Cola in the 1990s.

    Overall, the book is a compelling glimpse into the life of someone who's never shied away from a challenge.

    Buy it here >>

    'Onward' by Howard Schultz

    After resigning as Starbucks CEO in 2000, Schultz returned to the post in 2008, just as the company was struggling through a financial crisis. "Onward" details how the billionaire brought the global coffee chain back to life.

    Readers will learn how Schultz made tough decisions — like temporarily shutting down more than 7,000 US stores — in order to help Starbucks grow without neglecting its core values. They'll learn, too, about Schultz as a person, as he weaves together his unique business strategy with anecdotes about growing up in Brooklyn, New York. It's an honest and passionate recounting that will inspire entrepreneurs and everyone else to be brave in the face of adversity.

    Buy it here >>

    'How to Win at the Sport of Business' by Mark Cuban

    In "How to Win at the Sport of Business," Dallas Mavericks owner and "Shark Tank" investor Cuban fleshes out his best insights on entrepreneurialism from his personal blog.

    He writes candidly about how he progressed from sleeping on his friends' couches in his 20s to owning his own company and becoming a multi-billionaire. It's a story of commitment and perseverance — Cuban writes that even though he didn't know much about computers, he beat his competition because he spent so much time learning about the software his company sold. 

    Buy it here >>

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    As a child, Oprah Winfrey wore potato sacks because clothing did not always fit into the budget of her poverty-stricken family.

    Today, Forbes estimates Winfrey's net worth at $3 billion, and she is the only black woman on the publication's list of the 400 richest people in America.

    Before she became a media mogul and the queen of daytime TV, Winfrey suffered a tumultuous childhood.

    She was shuffled between family members, spending her first few years on her grandmother's farm in rural Mississippi while her unwed teenage mom looked for work, according to the Academy of Achievement.

    When her grandmother fell ill, 6-year-old Winfrey was sent to live with her mother in a Milwaukee boarding house, where she would not only grow up around extreme poverty, but also endure years of sexual and physical abuse.

    She was raped for the first time at age 9 by her 19-year-old cousin, writes Oscar Bamwebaze Bamuhigire in his book "The Healing Power of Self Love." It would be the first of several episodes.

    At age 14, Winfrey broke free and went to live with her dad in Nashville, Tennessee, where her success would start to take course.

    Her dad provided direction, discipline, and a sense of structure that Winfrey had never known, according to the Academy of AchievementThe stable and education-centered environment he created allowed her to thrive academically and socially at East Nashville High School, where she became an honor roll student and was voted the most popular girl in her class. 

    It was at East Nashville High where she would discover her passion for media. She joined the speech team and worked for a local black radio station after school.

    By her senior year she had secured a full scholarship to Tennessee State University. She left college early, however, at age 19 to pursue a career in media.

    Screen Shot 2015 05 27 at 4.43.12 PM

    Her gamble paid off.

    She became the first black female news anchor before the age of 20 in Nashville, starting with a few gigs as a local anchor before landing a co-anchor position in Baltimore. She was sexually harassed and humiliated at her job in Baltimore, according to DailyWorth, but didn't need to quit — she was fired seven and a half months after joining.  

    Winfrey didn't stay down for long. She landed a gig hosting the then-stagnant morning talk show, "AM Chicago." 

    Within a few months, Winfrey turned "AM Chicago" from the lowest-rated talk show in Chicago to the highest-rated one, writes the Academy of AchievementThree years later the show would be renamed "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

    She made a savvy, career-transforming move in 1986 when she founded Harpo Productions and negotiated ownership of the "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which brought in $300 million a year during its peak. Her company later produced lucrative spinoff shows, including "Dr. Phil" and "Rachael Ray."

    While best known for her award-winning talk show, Winfrey has also been involved in films, television series, and plays. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1985 drama "The Color Purple." 

    She also published her own magazine, The Oprah Magazine; started a radio channel, Oprah Radio; and most recently partnered with Discovery Communications to launch a cable channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network

    Now 61, Winfrey has a lifestyle that she could only have dreamed of during her traumatic childhood.

    She flies in her own $42 million, custom-designed Global Express XRS jet.

    Her impressive real-estate portfolio includes a $52 million estate in Montecito, California, which she nicknamed "The Promised Land;" a 15,000-square-foot duplex in Chicago; a farmhouse in Kula, Hawaii; 63 acres of land near Maui's Hamoa Beach; a vacation home on the shores of Antigua; a shore home in Lavallette, New Jersey; a ski villa in Telluride, Colorado; and a home in Douglasville, Georgia.

    She even has her own street: Chicago Mayor Richard Daley renamed the blocks in front of Harpo Studios "Oprah Winfrey Way."

    GettyImages 3405173Winfrey also has given millions of dollars to charity, mostly directed towards three foundations: The Angel NetworkThe Oprah Winfrey Foundation, and The Oprah Winfrey Operating Foundation.

    She's come a long way from the girl who wore potato-sack overalls, now donning Prada and Jimmy Choo.

    SEE ALSO: From pumping gas to a $6 billion fortune — the impressive rags-to-riches story of Forever 21's husband-and-wife cofounders

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    howard schultz

    Growing up in New York City housing projects, Howard Schultz says he never dreamed of going into business.

    Schultz certainly never imagined he'd one day run a global coffee chain and have a net worth estimated at $2.3 billion, according to Wealth-X.

    The chairman and CEO of Starbucks writes in his book "Pour Your Heart Into It" that he was raised in a working-class Jewish family in Canarsie, Brooklyn.

    While his mother Elaine tended to him and his siblings full-time (she later became a receptionist), his father Fred held a series of blue-collar positions, including truck driver, factory worker, and cab driver.

    In 1961, when Schultz was 7 years old, his father broke his ankle while working as a truck driver picking up and delivering diapers. At the time, Fred had no health insurance or worker's compensation, and the family was left with no income.

    Today, Schultz writes, he still remembers the way his father looked laying on the couch with his leg in a cast. In a way, his tremendous professional success is a tribute to his father, who died years later and "never attained fulfillment and dignity from work he found meaningful."

    Almost from the outset, Schultz's career path was different from his parents. In high school, he played football and earned an athletic scholarship to Northern Michigan University, becoming the first college graduate in his family.

    After graduation, Schultz landed a job in the sales training program at Xerox, where he got experience cold-calling and pitching word processors. In a few years, he took a job at Hammarplast, a housewares business owned by a Swedish company called Perstorp. There Schultz ascended the ranks to vice president and general manager, leading a team of salespeople.

    Despite his seeming success, Schultz writes that he was "getting antsy. It may be a weakness in me: I'm always wondering what I'll do next."

    Or perhaps it was because he hadn't yet found what he would discover in Starbucks: "what it means when your work truly captures your heart and your imagination."

    Old StarbucksSchultz first encountered Starbucks when he was working at Hammarplast. The coffee shop had four stores in Seattle and caught his attention when it ordered an unusually large number of drip coffeemakers.

    Intrigued, Schultz traveled to Seattle to meet the company's then owners, Gerald Baldwin and Gordon Bowker. He was struck by the partners' passion and their courage in selling a product that would appeal only to a small niche of gourmet coffee enthusiasts.

    Joining Starbucks would mean moving across the country and taking a significant pay cut, but Schultz was certain it would be the right move for him. It took a year to persuade Baldwin to hire him as the director of marketing.

    Schultz's career — and Starbucks's fate — changed forever when the company sent him to an international housewares show in Milan. While walking around the city, he encountered several espresso bars where owners knew their customers by name and served them drinks like cappuccinos and cafe lattes.

    "It was like an epiphany," Schultz writes of the moment he understood the personal relationship that people could have to coffee. He was convinced that Starbucks should start serving espresso drinks the Italian way — that Starbucks should be an experience, and not just a store. 

    Baldwin and Bowker, however, felt differently. In 1985 Schultz decided to leave Starbucks to start his own coffee company: Il Giornale (Italian for "the daily").

    He spent two years away from Starbucks, wholly focused on opening Il Giornale stores that replicated the coffee culture he'd seen in Italy. It caught on quickly. In 1987, Il Giornale bought Starbucks, and Schultz became CEO of Starbucks Corporation.

    Throughout his career at Starbucks, Schultz's first priority has been his employees' well-being, he says. Largely because of his father's experience when he was injured, Schultz offered all his employees (including part-time workers) complete healthcare coverage as well as stock options. Last year, Starbucks announced it would pay for employees' college tuition.

    Schultz has also been committed to maintaining the quality of his product. In 2008, when Starbucks was struggling financially, he temporarily closed 7,100 US stores in order to retrain baristas on how to make the perfect espresso. Over the next two years, he led Starbucks' massive turnaround.

    howard schultz chinaToday, there are more than 21,000 Starbucks stores in 65 countries, and the company is valued at $77 billion.

    Although it's been years since he was a college football player, Schultz writes that he still identifies with the persona of the blue-collar athlete whose determination and perseverance more than compensate for his lack of training.

    "I've always been driven and hungry,"Schultz says. "Long after others have stopped to rest and recover, I'm still running, chasing after something nobody else could ever see."

    SEE ALSO: From welfare to one of the world's wealthiest women — the incredible rags-to-riches story of J.K. Rowling

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    amy andersen dating sv

    When it comes to dating, even the most successful people in the tech and business worlds could use a little bit of help.

    Amy Andersen knows this all too well. In 2000, she started Menlo Park-based Linx Dating, a match-making service that helps people in Silicon Valley meet potential matches. 

    A membership with Linx Dating starts at $25,000, though Andersen charges more to clients who want more introductions to matches or more extensive date coaching.

    Andersen also sometimes gets a pretty hefty bonus if two people she matches end up going the distance. 

    It's a three-tiered bonus system: She gets a bonus if the two people start dating exclusively, a larger bonus if they get engaged, and the largest bonus if they get married. 

    "The marriage bonus is any amount that a client wishes to make it for," Andersen told Business Insider in an email. "I will say most clients put something for exclusive and marriage — even if it's modest amounts like $500 for becoming exclusive and $1,000 for marriage."

    It may not seem all that modest to the average person, but $1,000 is chump change for entrepreneurs and investors who have made millions in tech. 

    "I work with a very accomplished set of clients — many are in technology and are generally very smart, type-A, industrious, compulsive, and results driven. These people understand the notion of aligning incentives and paying for performance — they either work in companies that promote this practice, or they run startups that live and die by that rule," Andersen said.

    "When they are finally ready to find commitment and get married, most don’t have the time to waste pursuing low-yield channels. They need high-yield service that will ensure that every minute of their time that they invest is well spent." 

    Finding "the one" means so much to some Linx clients that they'll offer bonuses in the six-figure range, Andersen says.

    "I accept only extraordinary people into the Linx Dating network, and that may or may not mean they make a lot of income or possess huge financial assets," she said. "Though they all seek commitment, some may be on a fast track and willing/able to pay a lot of money to accelerate the process, to allow me to conduct a broad geographic search beyond the Bay Area with a ton of individual attention and sometimes intense date coaching."

    amy andersen linx dating

    Andersen's latest client is one of the most successful men in Silicon Valley. Though she wouldn't reveal his identity, she shared that there's a six-figure marriage bonus on the table.

    Here's what else she had to say:

    "He is extremely private and is not the type to ever do online dating nor date colleagues. He runs the company so dating someone under him would be an extreme no-no and beyond off limits. His bar is very high — he is looking for someone who can hold her own in any situation. (One day he might be socializing with a head of state, the next day having a dinner party with colleagues and old chums from his alma mater.)"

    Andersen will be doing a nationwide search to find this tech mogul's perfect match. 

    SEE ALSO: Brit Morin, the Martha Stewart of Silicon Valley, just raised $23 million for her DIY site

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    mark cuban champMark Cuban became a billionaire in 1999 when he sold his company,, to Yahoo for $6 billion.

    His net worth is now estimated at $3 billion, and he has numerous mansions, private planes, and sports cars to his name. 

    He also owns the Dallas Mavericks, who brought the NBA championship home in 2011.

    "I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Cuban said at Business Insider's IGNITION conference. "I only have to do what I want to do. I only have to do what I like to do."

    Cuban has been a businessman since the beginning. When he was a senior at Indiana University, he and a friend bought a bar called Motley's in downtown Bloomington. It was eventually shut down after they named an underage girl the winner of a wet t-shirt contest held on the premises.


    Cuban sold his first company, a consulting firm called MicroSolutions, to CompuServe in 1990. Next, he decided to pay $125,000 for an American Airlines lifetime pass, which let him fly first-class anywhere in the world. "I got as drunk as I could with as many people as I could meet," he told the Financial Times.

    Source: FTEsquire


    But Cuban really made it big when Yahoo bought, a live audio and video streaming site Cuban founded with friend Todd Wagner. The deal, finalized in 1999, was valued at nearly $6 billion.

    Source: Esquire


    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff at Dreamforce 2013

    The past few months have been spectacular for billionaire Marc Benioff and his 16-year-old company, Salesforce.

    Benioff has long been known as one of the most flamboyant, philanthropic, larger-than-life personalities in the tech industry.

    Things have been really going his way lately. His company is currently on fire. And he's begun to use his clout as a vehicle for social change far beyond the tech sphere.

    He helped invent a $106 billion market

    Marc Benioff is regarded as a visionary. He helped create a whole new category of tech called "software-as-a-service."

    That's a form of cloud computing where companies rent their software over the Internet, instead of installing it on their own computers.

    Businesses are expected to spend $106 billion on SaaS in 2016, according to a Goldman Sachs study.

    He kept his dream alive by force of will

    Marc Benioff is considered a marketing genius, too.

    The concept he helped invent, software-as-a-service (SaaS), almost died at birth. Shortly after launched, the Internet bubble burst, and the idea was declared a loser.

    By force of will, and plenty of gorilla marketing tactics, Benioff made this market happen. Today every major software company is chasing him, including huge companies like Oracle, Microsoft and SAP.

    He's about to lead Salesforce to a major milestone

    Marc Benioff is breaking records with the growth of his company.

    Salesforce ended its last fiscal year with $5.37 billion in revenue. Over $5 billion in revenue is a big milestone for a 100% cloud-computing company.

    Now he's promising that Salesforce will soon double that and become the fastest enterprise software company EVER to deliver $10 billion in revenue. He says he has $9 billion already under contract.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Jim Kenney greets supporters after winning the Democratic primary for Mayor of Philadelphia during his election night party at Vie in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Makela

    Florida Senator Marco Rubio has one; Texas Senator Ted Cruz has one; even former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, considered a longshot for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has a billionaire in his corner.

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has two.

    Campaign finance watchdog groups fear heavy spending by these ultra-rich Americans will warp the election - already expected to be the most money-soaked in history. The idea that billionaires can buy elections has taken root in the public imagination.

    Those billionaires are now seeing small, early signs of a pushback. Whether these are the beginning of a new trend is far too soon to say, but polls show there is wider discontent about the perceived influence of big money in U.S. politics and a growing gulf between the country's very rich and very poor.

    These nascent rumblings - along with evidence that the super-rich are inefficient political spenders - raise questions about how effective billionaires will be in the 2016 elections.

    Some voters in Philadelphia, for example, were turned off by the billionaires backing a top candidate in the city's May 19 mayoral race. And a Silicon Valley startup, Crowdpac, is hoping to bank on public ire against big political spenders to attract small donations to its new for-profit election campaign crowdfunding platform.

    "There's growing public awareness about rich people trying to buy elections and that makes the task of winning all the more difficult," said Darrell West, the author of "Billionaires: Reflections on the Upper Crust," and the director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution think tank.

    Potential big donors dispute the notion they are trying to buy elections and say they are simply using their positions to try to influence the future of the country in a positive way.

    "I do believe – and I’ve told my kids this - that I can do more for them by giving money to the right presidential candidate in 2016 than by leaving them double that amount in my will," said David Walsh, a retired investor living in Jackson, Wyoming, who would not disclose his net worth but has given several multi-million dollar gifts to charitable causes and said he planned to donate heavily to candidates in 2016.

    Miami car dealership mogul Norman Braman has been outspoken about backing his longtime protege Rubio; financial investor Foster Friess was in the audience cheering Santorum on when he announced his presidential bid two weeks ago; and Bob Mercer, the founder of a New York hedge fund, has been identified as supporting Cruz. The billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch have publicly vowed to spend nearly $900 million influencing races in 2016.


    Amid the populist outcry against CEO pay and income inequality there may be some risks in candidates being so publicly linked to the extremely rich.

    In Philadelphia, Anthony Hardy Williams was considered the favorite for the city's next mayor. He won support from three billionaires, Joel Greenberg, Jeff Yass and Arthur Dantchik, founders of the Susquehanna International Group, a global financial firm headquartered in a Philadelphia suburb. The three backed Williams, encouraging voters to support his views on a hot-button education policy issue.

    They spent nearly $7 million on television ads promoting Williams. In response, unions and other community groups, who opposed Williams's education platform, coalesced around another candidate, Jim Kenney. One of the groups, Action United, organized a march in front of SIG's offices with placards that said, "Stop billionaires from buying our next mayor!"

    "I would have looked seriously at Williams if not for the money," said JoAnn Seaver, 85, a retired teacher who voted for Kenney. She was one of several Philadelphia voters Reuters interviewed on election day who said Williams' billionaire backers were a turnoff. "You don't think that money should govern people who are elected, but what do you do, just let the billionaires take over?"

    A spokesman for Williams declined to comment. Through a spokesman, the three billionaires declined to comment.


    Crowdpac, an online political fundraising platform that works like Kickstarter - an online tool that lets entrepreneurs gather funding for new projects through small donations - sees fighting billionaires as part of its business model. Mason Harrison, the site's political director, says Crowdpac wants to get more middle-class people involved in politics by hosting smaller donation drives for candidates.

    "We have a lack of money from small donors in American politics, and if we have more people involved in the political process we can make great strides in terms of diluting the influence from special interests," he said.

    A veteran of Republican Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, Harrison is not the typical liberal voice decrying money in politics. But Crowdpac's Twitter tagline sounds very similar to the calls from non-profit watchdog groups to level the political playing field. It reads: "Together we can beat the big donors."


    Inefficiency could also dampen the effects of billionaires' political spending. 

    "When you have political amateurs or novices with a strong issue or ideological position in which they have intense belief and are willing to put their money behind it, the money itself is no guarantee of victory," said Michael Traugott, a political science professor at the University of Michigan who studies the influence of money on political races.

    Studies of the 2012 and 2014 elections by the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based non-profit that tracks political spending, show most groups backed by billionaires had less success swaying election outcomes than groups controlled by trade organizations or professional political strategists. The Sunlight study does not offer any explanation for this difference.

    Former hedge fund founder Tom Steyer, who backed Democrats through his Nextgen Climate Action Committee, spent $79 million in the 2014 congressional elections, $17.9 million of which was directed toward influencing specific races. Sunlight found Steyer had a 32 percent success rate on the $17.9 million spent.

    For some, failure was total. Evidence from news reports shows that casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent more than $100 million in 2012 in donations to trade groups, political action committees and candidates, only to watch virtually all his chosen candidates – including presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Romney – lose.

    Other groups have seen more success. The Kochs' Americans for Prosperity saw a 95 percent success rate in 2014.

    But its string of victories isn't flawless. It ran negative TV ads against Ethan Berkowitz, a candidate in this year's mayoral race in Anchorage, Alaska. Local strategists said the ads only increased Berkowitz's name recognition.

    Jeremy Price, the state director for Americans for Prosperity in Alaska, said the ads were meant to show Berkowitz's record on spending, highlighting an issue rather than a candidate.

    Berkowitz won the race.

    (Reporting By Emily Flitter, editing by Ross Colvin)

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    Leon Cooperman

    Billionaire hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman is tired of Hillary Clinton "crapping all over hedge funds." 

    Aside from the fact that he tends to support Republican candidates, that's one main reason why he's not going to vote for her.

    "I don't need anybody crapping all over what I do for a living," Cooperman, 72, told CNN Money's Cristina Alesci. 

    He added that Clinton "hangs out with these people in Martha's Vineyard and in the Hamptons and the very first thing she does is criticize hedge funds." 

    Cooperman said there's one thing that gets to him even more than Clinton.

    "I don't need someone coming out and blatantly crapping on hedge funds. Most of the hedge funds I know, whether it is Carl Icahn, Stan Druckenmiller, Michael Steinhardt, Bill Ackman, I apologize to those I'm leaving out, Dan Loeb, these are extraordinary, generous people that work at what they do because they love what they do and are taking their financial success and giving it back to the system. This notion of crapping all over hedge funds is so bogus it makes me nauseous. The only thing that makes me more nauseous is those hedge funds that support her."

    During the interview, Cooperman said that he has lived the "American dream."

    He grew up poor in the South Bronx. His father was a plumber. 

    His parents were also immigrants and he was the first of his generation to graduate from college.  He attended Hunter College in Manhattan and later graduated with his MBA from Columbia. 

    When he finished school, he had no money, student loan debt and a six-month old child to take care of. 

    He ended up going to work for Goldman Sachs where he stayed for 25 years where he became a partner and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

    After Goldman, he founded hedge fund Omega Advisors. 

    He now has an estimated networth of $3.7 billion. He has also donated millions to charity and to his alma maters. Cooperman and his wife Toby, a recently-retired teacher who taught special needs children in New Jersey for 25 years, have also signed Warren Buffett and Bill Gates' "Giving Pledge."

    Watch the CNN Money video below: 

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