While most of America’s 400 richest people are old enough to collect Social Security — not that they need it — a dozen of them have yet to reach their fourth decade. Some of the youngest on the list inherited their wealth, like Lukas Walton, grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton. But most earned their billions starting tech or social media companies, including Snap cofounders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy as well as Facebook’s Dustin Moskovitz and Mark Zuckerberg, who is the world’s richest person under age 40.
One of these millennials is Forbes 400 newcomer Trevor Milton, a 38-year-old college dropout who started hydrogen and electric-powered truckmaker Nikola in 2015. The Utah native founded four companies before Nikola, including dHybrid Systems, a startup that designed fueling systems for natural gas trucks. He sold the business to metals manufacturer Worthington Industries in 2014 for $15.9 million, then used the proceeds to kickstart Nikola a year later.https://embedly.forbes.com/widgets/media.html?src=https%3A%2F%2Fe.infogram.com%2F_%2FcpsxJd36RmGbLaMIPlSR%3Fsrc%3Dembed&display_name=Infogram&url=https%3A%2F%2Finfogram.com%2F1pzgq96jpqn5klt29zy27911xeh1qwx3ljq&image=https%3A%2F%2Finfogram-thumbs-1024.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com%2Ff75a5af2-4e26-4b2f-b649-b1ce5e748675.jpg&key=cfc0fb0733504c77aa4a6ac07caaffc7&type=text%2Fhtml&schema=infogram
In September 2019, Nikola secured a $250 million investment from Dutch conglomerate CNH Industrial, bringing its valuation to $3 billion and Milton’s net worth to just shy of $1.1 billion. In June, he took Nikola public via a reverse merger; its shares got off to a roaring start, nearly tripling in four days of trading. The stock has since fallen back to earth, falling by 68% by July 24, but Milton, Nikola’s largest shareholder, makes the Forbes 400 at $3.3 billion, a threefold jump in less than a year.
The number of those under 40 on the 2020 list has decreased by one from last year. Beer heir Julio Mario Santo Domino III fell from the ranks of the 400 richest Americans this year after the value of his stake in Anheuser-Busch dropped. Former Facebook president and Spotify backer Sean Parker turned 40 in December.
In June, the Snap CEO came under fire from the Trump campaign after the company announced it would no longer promote the campaign’s account on its Discover tab. Spiegel, America’s youngest billionaire, had just published a 2,000-word memo saying “the American experiment is failing,” calling for higher taxes on the wealthy and consideration of reparations for Black Americans.
The Snap cofounder and chief technology officer donated $5 million in April to help 60,000 Los Angeles residents facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus.
The grandson of Walmart founder Sam Walton inherited his fortune when his father, John, died in a plane crash in 2005. Walton chairs the environmental committee of his clan’s Walton Family Foundation, which recently gave a $1.25 million grant to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to aid forest and wetland restoration in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley.
The Facebook CEO leapfrogged investing luminary Warren Buffett on this year’s list to become the third-richest person in America. Shares of the social media giant have surged nearly 60% from their March low, as Facebook use and ad revenue increased during the pandemic. More than a thousand advertisers joined a boycott in mid-June to protest Facebook’s lax policing of hate speech and misleading posts from politicians. Zuckerberg announced in late June that Facebook would start banning more ads that contain hateful content.
The Facebook cofounder left the social network in 2008 to start work-collaboration company Asana. Most of Moskovitz’s net worth lies in an estimated 2% stake in Facebook, but Asana is picking up steam thanks to an increase in remote working. Last valued at $1.5 billion in November 2018, Asana plans to go public this fall.
Duncan and his three older siblings each inherited a stake in their late father Dan’s pipeline firm, Enterprise Product Partners, in 2010. His net worth has plummeted from $6.3 billion last year as oil prices nosedived and shares of the company fell in step.
Blecharczyk cofounded Airbnb with Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, who are also under 40, in 2008. The pandemic struck a serious blow to the home-rental company. It raised $2 billion in debt and private investors slashed the company’s valuation to $26 billion in April from $35 billion in 2018; as a result the cofounders’ fortunes each fell $1.1 billion. In May Airbnb laid off a quarter of its workforce in May as the pandemic upended the travel industry. In August the company confidentially filed to go public.
Garcia cofounded online used car dealer Carvana as a subsidiary of DriveTime, which is owned by his father, fellow billionaire Ernest Garcia II. Thanks to housebound customers buying cars online during the pandemic, Carvana is now the fourth-largest used-vehicle seller in the U.S., up from eighth last year.
Milton, the youngest newcomer to the 400, announced on Twitter in late August that he would give 6 million of his shares to Nikola’s first 50 employees.
Snyder inherited the iconic West Coast burger chain In-N-Out from her grandparents, becoming a billionaire in 2017 when she received the final portion of her inheritance on her 35th birthday. In-N-Out, which claims to have invented the early drive-thru window, is surviving the pandemic thanks to its drive-thru business. Despite the economic downturn, the chain plans to open three outposts in Colorado this fall, its first in the Rocky Mountains.
Chesky and Gebbia are Airbnb’s CEO and Chief Product Officer, respectively. The company secured $2 billion of debt in April to stay afloat during the pandemic, and in August issued a global ban on parties and imposed house occupancy limits for rentals in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19