The Forbes 400 is getting younger. With more millennials joining the ranks, the2015 list of America’s richest features 17 billionaires under 40. That compares to 11 on last year’s Forbes 400.
The majority of those young titans (12 of the 17) earned their money in technology, and these digital stars account for nearly a third of all newcomers on the Forbes 400.
At the top, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, 31, has an estimated $40.3 billion net worth. Facebook shares climbed nearly 25% in the past year—propelled higher still by its August milestone: 1 billion users in a single day.
As a result, Zuckerberg has seen the biggest gain ($6.3 billion) in his wealth among his peers, and he vaults into the Forbes 400’s Top 10 for the first time. Outside of the corporate world, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have donated millions toward education efforts, and at Facebook, the company has started the Internet.org initiative, which wants to bring the Internet to the vast swaths of the planet without access to it.
Alongside Zuckerberg are two other Facebook founders: Dustin Moskovitz, 31 and Sean Parker, 35. Both have since left the company. Moskovitz, who helped launch the site from a Harvard dorm, founded software firm Asana in 2008.
He’s worth $8.4 billion. Parker, famously the creator of Napster before becoming Facebook’s first president, has directed his focus towards philanthropy. His fortune: $2.5 billion.
Competing with Facebook is Snapchat, the photo-messaging app created by 25-year-old Evan Spiegel —the world’s youngest billionaire—and 27-year-old Bobby Murphy. They respectively weigh in with $2.1 billion and $1.8 billion fortunes.
Recalling their time at a Stanford frat to FORBES in 2014, Murphy summed up what sparked their creativity succinctly: “We weren’t cool. So we tried to build things to be cool.” It’s worked. The app is installed in 60% of smartphones owned by 13 to 34 year olds.
Another man capitalizing on the changing ways to communicate is Jan Koum, 39. His$7.7 billion fortune is a monument to the endurance of the American Dream. When he arrived in America from Ukraine, the teenaged Koum swept floors while his mother babysat to make ends meet. Today, his WhatsApp messaging app hit 900 million users in September.