Mark Zuckerberg is Facebook’s co-founder and public face. Growing up in White Plains, New York with his three sisters and parents (a psychiatrist and dentist), you wouldn’t guess he would become one of the founders of the world’s largest social network. At a young age, Zuckerberg excelled in computer programming and web design. While most kids were playing computer games, he was creating them. After enrolling at Harvard in 2002, he created a program called CourseMatch that allowed students to pick classes based on who was in them.
Zuckerberg used his talents to transform CourseMatch in to what is now Facebook, allowing students to connect with each other across college campuses. The flip flop, hoodie, and shorts wearing Zuckerberg tops the youngest billionaire list at 29-years-of-age with a net worth of $19-billion. His Facebook partners Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, and Sean Parker share billionaire status estimated at $3.8-billion, $2.2-billion, and $2-billion respectively.
While Facebook gains the attention for social media in the U.S., Japan has their own Zuckerberg style billionaire in Yoshikazu Tanaka, the co-founder of online tech company GREE, a social gaming site that was started in his home and turned into a billion dollar company. Tanaka was a typical gamer who often paid out of pocket to keep his habit going. He was inspired by Zuckerberg to turn his hobby into profit. In 2003, Tanaka enlisted his friend Kotaro Yamagishi, a writer for CNET and moved forward with his idea. GREE was born and in 2004 the site grew to over 10,000 users. At age 36 and a net worth of $1.9-billion Tanaka comes in second to Zuckerberg on the youngest billionaires list leading tech.
Internet developer Jack Dorsey is the co-founder of Twitter, who made headlines last week when his company went public with its initial IPO on Wall Street. At only 13, Dorsey created a dispatch routing software that is still used in taxis today. His dispatch software worked as a stepping stone for his future venture.
Inspired by AOL Instant messenger and Live Journal, Dorsey created a short message form of communication, which was later named Twitter. Social media seems to be the way to go to billionaire status. At only 36, Dorsey fits the bill as one of the youngest billionaires leading tech with a net worth of $1.1 billion.
Maxim Nogotkov decided to use social media rather than create it. He is the founder of Svyaznoy, Russia’s largest retailer and Svyaznoy Bank. At age 12 he asked his father if he could borrow money to start up his own business. After getting a solid “no” he decided to enlist his friend’s money.
After accumulating enough to get started, Nogotkov began selling cordless phones, computer software and installing caller IDs. By the time he entered college, he was an established entrepreneur.
With creative talents combined with an almost over-whelming drive to succeed, Nogotkov launched Maximus (later renamed Svyaznoy), a cell phone retailer, which now sells at 2,400 outlets. Under Svyaznoy, the young college student also created the largest credit card company in Russia to date. At 36, he stands as the youngest self-made billionaire not following the Silicon Valley formula.