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The Stock Market Creates Billionaires

Recently, Jeff Bezos, major shareholder and founder of e-commerce company, Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN), overtook Bill Gates to become the world’s richest man. His stake in his company reached $88 billion after Amazon.com reported another blockbuster quarter.

This likely shows that there is a common denominator between most of the richest people in the world. Most of them founded a company that eventually listed on the stock market. They continued to be a major shareholder in the stocks of their company and subsequently got rich through share price appreciation of the stock.

On that note, let’s look at the current top four richest people in the world, as an inspiration to all stock investors.

1. Jeff Bezos (US$88 billion)

Jeff Bezos started his online retail business as an online bookstore. Most of us should be able to remember the time when we realised we could start buying books online. Before long, though, his company expanded its product offering to include items ranging from games, food and more.

Jeff Bezos brought Amazon.com to the stock market in 1997, and the company was valued at slightly more than US$400 million. By 2007, the market cap of the company had risen to $40 billion. That was a 100-times increase since going public. However, that was just the beginning of Jeff Bezos and his company. Amazon.com continued to expand internationally and rode the growth of the online retail industry as a whole.

Last week, the online retailer reported another blockbuster quarter and it is now valued at around US$532 billion.

2. Bill Gates (US$85.7 billion)

Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft Corporation  (NASDAQ: MSFT), which became the world’s largest personal computer and software company. The firm went public back in 1986. Through their leadership, the company has grown 73,000%. Bill Gates stepped down as the chief executive officer in 2000 but continues to be the largest shareholder of Microsoft.

The growth of his stock propelled Gates to become the richest person in the world for 17 of the past 22 years.

3. Warren Buffett (US79.9 billion)

Warren Buffett is well known for creating his wealth from the stock market. His wealth stems from his astute stock picking skills that have seen his company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc (NYSE: BRK.A), grow at an annualised rate of 19%.

He is the largest shareholder of his company that is now valued at close to US$460 billion.

4. Mark Zuckerberg (US$72.9 billion)

The founder of social media giant, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), is the youngest among the world’s top five richest people. Zuckerberg’s company has grown from strength to strength in the stock market.

Facebook went public in 2012 at just $38 a share. Since then, its share price has appreciated more than four-fold and is currently trading at $177 per share. As the major shareholder of his company, Zuckerberg’s net worth has likewise skyrocketed, propelling him to fourth in the list.

The Foolish conclusion

The four richest people in the world got their wealth from holding stocks of companies listed on the stock market. Their net worth has risen as the stocks they own skyrocketed in value. This just goes to show how powerful investing in stocks can be.

As investors, we should be inspired by the success stories of these men and strive to achieve similar returns in our investments in the stock market.

Meanwhile, for more (free!) investing insights, sign up here for your FREE subscription to The Motley Fool's investing newsletter, Take Stock Singapore. It will teach you how you can grow your wealth in the years ahead.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. The Motley Fool Singapore has recommended shares of Amazon.com and Facebook.