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Tech billionaires’ wealth rises by $55.8bn despite recession

The world's richest technology billionaires upped their collective wealth by $55.8bn last year despite the impact of the recession.

However Bill Gates, who headed the Fortune 500 list, was toppled by Mexican telecoms heavyweight Carlos Slim Helu, whose $53.5bn personal fortune edged ahead of the Microsoft founder's paltry $53bn.

Oracle's jet-set owner Larry Ellison was worth $28bn in 2009 as his firm's shares soared 70% in the year, while Microsoft's Steve Ballmer also put in a strong showing, with $14.5bn to his name.

Salesforce.com chief Marc Benioff saw his fortune rise to $1.3bn thanks to a 30% rally in his firm's stock.

Azim Premji, chairman of software firm Wipro, saw his wealth rise $11bn to $17bn.

In hardware, Michael Dell increased his net worth by $1.2bn to $13.5bn, largely because of investments outside of his PC firm, which has overhauled its entire business model in the past two years to reverse flagging sales.

Ten years after the dotcom crash, internet entrepreneurs also put in a strong showing, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page saw their net value swell $5.5bn to $17.5bn each; the search giant has diversified into SaaS, mobile operating systems and social networking.

Other big names on the list included Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, worth $12.3bn, up $5.5bn last year, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar added $1.6bn to his personal fortune, taking his total wealth to $5.2bn in company shares.

A version of this story appeared on Microscope.


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