23. Jack Ma
Net worth: $26.5 billion
Source of wealth: Self-made; Alibaba
The second-richest person in China, Alibaba founder and executive chairman Jack Mareportedly started China’s first internet company in 1988: China Yellowpages. He lost control of that company to a state-owned telecom in 1996 and started Alibaba three years later with just $60,000. Fifteen years after its inception, the e-commerce company broke records with a $25 billion initial public offering — the world’s largest ever.
Post-IPO, however, Alibaba’s good fortune began to slip. The company’s shares dropped 22% in 2015, most likely because of China’s slowing economy and concerns over counterfeiters using the company’s platform. Ma isn’t worried, though. He acknowledges that the next year will be a trying time for the Chinese economy, but he remains confident in Alibaba’s long-term success. The company is dominant in one of the world’s biggest markets, and he says the West’s concern over China’s economic slowdown is an “overreaction.”
Additionally, Ma plans to push Alibaba outside of China and significantly expand its ventures abroad. He got in US President Barack Obama’s good graces after being interviewed about climate change and entrepreneurship by the president at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in November.