Ruth Glendinning
4 min readNov 3, 2019


Betway, an online betting site, used Forbes 2018 Billionaire’s List and Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index to find out how long it took the richest people in the world to go from millionaire to billionaire. The blog looked at when each person first appeared on either list, and also gathered news reports and rankings to pinpoint their age at the time. When it wasn’t possible to find an exact age, Betway Insider made an estimate based on the individual’s first big success in business.

Tech appears to be the fastest wealth-building industry; the richest people in tech averaged five years as millionaires before becoming billionaires.

Below, how long it took the richest people in the world to go from millionaire to billionaire. The list excludes two people — Françoise Bettencourt-Meyers and Mukesh Ambani — who both inherited their billions, skipping the millionaire stage completely. All current net worth figures are from Forbes’ real-time ranking as of April 4. [Source: Business Insider, April 2018]

The net worth of these 23 people ranges from $30.7B to $114.8B; the total net worth is $1.268 Trillion (as of April 2018). And the actual effect of that much concentrated power is incalculable when you think of the potential that has been killed so that those astronomical accumulations of resources could be concentrated in the hands of only 23 of the 7.7 billion people sharing the planet.

Under this predatory capital model, society has moved from the Hippocratic Oath of ‘First Do No Harm’

to the Zuckerberg ‘Hypocritical Oath’ of “move fast and break things” with no regard for who and what is left behind.

Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Hypocritical Oath’.

Inundated with data and information, we have lost our capacity to make sense of just how enormous these millions & billions really are and how their removal from the local economy exponentially speeds the demise of the community, beginning with the average household’s inability to thrive. The cost of privatizing profits and socializing costs seems invisible until you see the fires in California or water issues in Flint & Kentucky or how the wealth gap is exponentially widening everywhere as access to opportunity is out of the reach of a growing percentage of the population.

To keep it in human terms, I’ve begun to #dothemath, breaking them down to $/day terms which illustrate just how huge the gap between the 23 in the Business Insider’s article and the rest of us is.

So, to put this in perspective, if you had received $1,356.97 every day since year zero you would have $1B today:

2019 years x 365 days = 736,935 days

736,935 days x $1,356.97 = ~$1B ($999,998,686.95)

Imagine if the people on this list tithed 10% of this capital to investing in the productive capacity of the communities & industries that have been devastated by their predatory capitalism. That would put $127B back in play, which, coincidentally, is roughly the net worth of Jeff Bezos in 2019 after his divorce which lowered his net worth by $38B.

Seeding an investment fund with this initial $127B changes the game. A global commitment by all players — billionaires and non-billionaires alike — to tithe 10% of their accumulated wealth to support access to wealth production tools for all creates a whole new sustainable game, one that is framed by the Honorable Harvest in which we commit to a covenant of reciprocity between humans and the Earth. This simple commitment may seem like a quaint prescription , but it is the root of a sophisticated ethical protocol that could guide us in a time when unbridled exploitation threatens the life that surrounds us.

The “Honorable Harvest”: Lessons From an Indigenous Tradition of Giving Thanks

Let’s add some metrics to the NBC’s famous PSA phrase #TheMoreYouKnow to show how #TheMoreYouMath changes the story.

For the past 29 years, NBC has devoted a portion of airtime that could otherwise be sold for substantial advertising dollars to provide brief reminders about basic human decency, teen issues, and social controversies. Efficiently packaged in 30-second increments and featuring recognizable faces, The More You Know campaign has become synonymous with lessons in ethics.



Ruth Glendinning

Poet // Future Story Lab // Lexicon of Future // Anti-Fragile Playbook // Peace Economics // FundHer Network // Originator S.L.O.W. Tech // #womenswork