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Want to Be a Billionaire? If You’re Under 30, It’s a Pretty Small Club



If you’re dreaming of amassing fortunes in the billions and you haven’t hit your third decade yet, you’d be joining a pretty small club. There are just nine billionaires under 30 according to Forbes. That’s an exclusive set indeed.

But what about all the unicorn startups and rags-to-riches stories we hear about so often? Don’t confuse starting a company valued in the billions with raking in the billions in private net worth.

Making (a shit ton of) money isn’t easy. The laws of physics (and stock prices) indicate that it requires time, experience, and something extraordinary. Especially if you’re not next in line to inherit a gargantuan sum any time soon.

What about the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Brian Chesky? Oh, they’re in the club alright, just not the billionaires under 30 one. They don’t get asked for ID when buying drinks anymore.

Self-Made Billionaires Are an Even Rarer Beast

Now we’ve established that your chances of joining the billionaires under 30 club are on a par with a camel passing through the eye of a needle, take heart. There’s more than a sprinkling of privilege in this club-of-nine list as well.

In fact, of the nine billionaires under 30, the majority are not self-made. The truly extraordinary individuals who have made their own fortunes from scratch are a grand total of just four. The other five had their wealth handed to them on a silver platter.

So, let’s take a look at the four self-made. Who are they and how did they make their money? It seems that the worlds of social media and fintech (AKA tech billionaires) walk away with the prize. The four richest people under 30 are the co-founders of Snapchat, and Stripe respectively.

Snapchat Cofounders

Snapchat (NYSE: SNAP) Cofounders Bobby Murphey (29) and Evan Spiegel (28) got the recipe right with their self-destructing messages and allowing people to take selfies with bunny ears. But like everything social media, trends are only popular for a while. It wasn’t long before even our ugliest friends having profile pics looking like Disney princesses started to get old.

Snapchat has had a turbulent year and so have its cofounders. From a historical high of 27.09 USD in March 2017 to its October 5, 2018 price of 7.77 USD, the Stanford frat brothers saw around 40 percent of their net worth wiped off this year. They still top the rich kids’ list, though, with a net worth of $2.5 billion.

SNAP Yahoo Finance

SNAP: Going Down. Source: Yahoo Finance /

Snapchat’s 200 million users (mainly between 18 and 34) users are a fickle bunch. Look to why the social media giant is losing popularity and it seems many fingers point to a Kylie Jenner tweet. Influential people complaining about the redesign saw a $1.3 billion drop in Snapchat’s worth.

Stripe Cofounders

At the age of 27, Irish brothers and Stripe Cofounders John Collison and Patrick Collison are on the fintech hall of fame with an estimated net-worth of around $1 billion as of February this year.

What’s Stripe? For those of you who don’t know, Stripe is a fintech unicorn that lets companies and individuals accept payments online easily. Another idea to be incubated in a college dorm room, Stripe processed its first payment when the brothers were vacationing in South America.

In 2016, Stripe was valued at around $9.2 billion. But Stripe’s valuation has recently be recalculated to around $20 billion, making it the sixth most valuable venture-backed startup in the US, alongside WeWork, and Palantir.

No plans to take the company public, millions of businesses already using Stripe and an estimated 80% or more US consumers having used it for payments, they see no need for an IPO. Some of Stripe’s most famous investors include Elon Musk and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.

The Takeaway

The common threads between these self-made billionaires under 30 are technology and college. But with social media able to shed billions of value on the back of a celebrity tweet, fintech may be a more stable ground on which to build your empire. Moreover, college is really just a yardstick since some of the most successful individuals in the world are college dropouts–just ask Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. Neither of them were billionaires before 30 either.

Featured Image credit: De cellanr – Flickr: Evan Spiegel, founder of Snapchat

Christina is a B2B writer, MBA, fintech and crypto reporter with a fascination for technology and a passion for starting interesting conversations. When not at her computer you can find her surfing a wave or sipping on wine. Sometimes, at the same time.

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Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes Buys Australia’s Most Expensive Home



Mike Cannon Brookes

Despite all the worry over Australian home prices, it didn’t take Mike Cannon-Brookes long to spend a pile on the Fairwater estate in Sydney’s Point Piper. The home was recently vacated by Mary Fairfax, who died a little over a year ago. The home has been in the Fairfax family for more than 100 years, and now it looks like Mike Cannon-Brookes will be raising his family in the 11,000+ square-meter property.

The actual sales price for Fairwater hasn’t been disclosed, but it is thought to have sold for more than $100 million USD. That would make it the highest price paid for a home in Australia by a wide margin.

The previous record was set when the house next door to Fairwater sold to the other Atlassian co-founder, Scott Farquhar, last year. Mr. Farquhar paid $71 million USD for the property, called “Elaine,” which had also been the property of the Fairfax family.

Unlike Elaine, Fairwater has sat unoccupied for the last 25 years or so and was seldom used by Lady Fairfax. Despite the remodeling that is sure to begin soon, Mike Cannon-Brookes is happy to have made the purchase. In a statement, he said that:

“We are delighted with the purchase of Fairwater for our young family and look forward to continuing the legacy of this beautiful Sydney home… We love the idea of raising our four young children in this historic property.”


Fairwater, image by Wikipedia

Big Money in Sydney

Atlassian has been a massive success for Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar. The pair met while attending the University of New South Wales. In 2002 they used $10,000 in credit card debt to found Atlassian. The company has grown into a global presence, and in 2017 Atlassian created revenues in excess of $600 million USD.

Their most popular product is Jira, which was introduced in 2002. Jira started life as a bug tracking software that is still used by software developers all over the world. According to Atlassian, more than 75,000 companies in 122 countries use Jira. It has evolved into a project management tool that has expanded beyond software development.

Given the taste in real estate the founders have, Atlassian will have to keep doing well. The property taxes on a $100 million dollar property have to be eye-watering. The two co-founders have made off like bandits in the wake of Atlassian’s IPO in late 2015.

Like many companies in the tech space, equity investors can’t seem to get enough of Atlassian shares. Even after the shares fell sharply earlier this week on a revenue disappointment, they are still up by more than 100% over the last 12 months at the time of writing. They saw their adjusted quarterly earnings rise by more than 50% YOY, which may help to justify their current valuation.

Investors Love Atlassian

Last year Atlassian lost around 50 cents a share, which makes paying nearly 20 billion dollars for their platform a little rough. Despite the increasing competition from other project management platforms, most notably Slack, there are many in the investment world that see Mike Cannon-Brookes’ company as a herald of things to come.

Atlassian stock 6 months

Atlassian stock 6 month period

Tim Garratt is a partner at Bailie Gifford, a Scottish fund that owns hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Atlassian’s equity. He told the Sydney Morning Herald that:

“Mike Cannon-Brookes has a focus on the next coming decades rather than the next quarter or two. He’s prepared to invest for the long term and we are strongly supportive of that approach… We see the long-term potential for Atlassian to service a hundred million users across the world […]So it is still early days for this exciting business and we’re looking forward to seeing how it develops over the next decade and beyond.”

Despite the optimism that Mike Cannon-Brookes has generated from investors who are already riding high on triple digits yearly gains, his company has something of a spotty record when it comes to gender issues.

A few years ago, one of Atlassian’s employees decided to compare a new piece of software to a complaining girlfriend, which did nothing to sure up the image of an industry that is constantly being accused of a latent gender bias. While Mike Cannon-Brookes scolded the employee after the presentation went viral, he actually gave the offending presentation himself at a conference!

The gaffe clearly hasn’t dented investor confidence in the company, and Atlassian remains one of the biggest software development tools out there today. If Mike Cannon-Brookes’ luck holds up, he may be able to hold on to his brand new house on the water in Sydney.

Featured image by TEDx Sydney

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