The Forbes 400: The Richest People in America, 2011

Forbes
Michael Dell

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Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rank: 18

Net Worth: $15 B

Age: 46

Source: Dell

Residence: Austin, TX

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Billionaires in the Making

The Texas computer mogul is $500 million richer as Dell stock is up 15% year on year. The PC firm has come a long way since Michael started selling computers from his college dorm room in 1984 (he took Dell public in 1988). Dell (Nasdaq: DELL - News) hasn't been able to reach its 2005 peak, when Michael was worth $18 billion, but the company is exploring new ways to make money. Dell's enterprise business — servers, storage and services — now comprises a third of $60 billion annual sales. Dell won't abandon its computing heritage, however. As Michael tweeted in August, "the reports of the PC's death have been greatly exaggerated." Most of his fortune is now tied up in his investment firm MSD Capital, with around $12 billion from past share sales under management. He and wife Susan support anti-childhood-obesity campaigns.

Steve Ballmer

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Rank: 19

Net Worth: $13.9 B

Age: 55

Source: Microsoft

Residence: Bellevue, WA

Microsoft's embattled chief dumped 18% of his shares in November 2010, his biggest sale ever and first in seven years. Bill Gates' college mate dismisses the suggestion that it's a move to the exits, saying he's "fully committed" to Microsoft, where he's been boss since 2000. In that time Microsoft has lost half of its value while profits have doubled. Analysts put the breakup value of the company up to three times current stock price. The software sales juggernaut has sold 350 million copies of Office and 400 million copies of Windows 7. Search engine Bing has had modest market share gains and Ballmer has a big consumer hit with the Kinect motion control system for the Xbox. Kinect is one of fastest selling gadgets of all time. Xbox is also now the top-selling console in the U.S. In May Ballmer went deep and spent $8.7 billion (32 times ebitda) on Skype, the cheapo calling service that still loses money. Microsoft wanted Skype for its new mobile operating system, Windows Phone, which is getting positive reviews. Detroit native dropped out of Stanford M.B.A. program to join Harvard classmate Bill Gates in 1980 as employee number 30. Keeps his philanthropy quiet. Mostly works, goes to the gym and hangs out with his family.

Forrest Mars

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Zuma Press/Newscom

Rank: 20

Net Worth: $13.8 B

Age: 80

Source: Mars Candy

Residence: Big Horn, WY

Forrest Mars Jr. and his siblings, John and Jacqueline, own $31.6 billion (sales) Mars, the world's largest candy company thanks in part to its $23 billion acquisition of gum maker Wrigley's in 2008. The candy maker's most famous brands include Milky Way, M&M's, 3 Musketeers, Twix, Skittles, and Snickers, reportedly named for the Mars family's favorite horse. Forrest's grandfather, Frank Mars, began making chocolates in 1911 in his Tacoma, WA kitchen. It was his father Forrest Sr. who invented malt-flavored nougat and M&M's, over 400 million of which are produced in the United States each day. Mars has even branched out into consumer and pet foods with the well known brands Uncle Ben's Rice and Whiskas under the Mars umbrella. Forrest recently made headlines for protesting the construction of a Montana railroad that would facilitate coal extraction from the state because the proposed route passed through his ranch. When his attempts to block it via legal action failed, Forrest simply bought a stake in the railroad and adjusted the route accordingly. A noted history buff and preservationist, the $23 million Mars Education Center opened at Fort Ticonderoga this summer. Forrest's former wife, Deborah, is a Ticonderoga native.

Jacqueline Mars

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Photo provided by Washington Life Magazine

Rank: 20

Net Worth: $13.8 B

Age: 71

Source: Mars Candy

Residence: The Plains, VA

Jacqueline Mars and her two brothers, John and Forrest Jr, own $31.6 billion (sales) Mars, the world's largest candy company thanks in part to its $23 billion acquisition of gum maker Wrigley's in 2008. The candy maker's most famous brands include Milky Way, M&M's, 3 Musketeers, Twix, Skittles, and Snickers, reportedly named for the Mars family's favorite horse. Jacqueline's grandfather, Frank Mars, began making chocolates in 1911 in his Tacoma, WA kitchen. It was her father Forrest Sr. who invented malt-flavored nougat and M&M's, over 400 million of which are produced in the United States each day. Mars has since branched out into consumer and pet foods with the well known brands Uncle Ben's Rice and Whiskas under the Mars umbrella. Jacqueline is a trustee of the United States Equestrian team and sits on the board of the Washington National Opera, which recently completed a merger with the Kennedy Center.

John Mars

Rank: 20

Net Worth: $13.8 B

Age: 75

Source: Mars Candy

Residence: Jackson, WY

John Mars and his siblings, Forrest Jr. and Jacqueline, own $31.6 billion (sales) Mars, the world's largest candy company thanks in part to its $23 billion acquisition of gum maker Wrigley's in 2008. The candy maker's most famous brands include Milky Way, M&M's, 3 Musketeers, Twix, Skittles, and Snickers, reportedly named for the Mars family's favorite horse. John's grandfather, Frank Mars, began making chocolates in 1911 in his Tacoma, WA kitchen. It was his father Forrest Sr. who invented malt-flavored nougat and M&M's, over 400 million of which are produced in the United States each day. Mars has even branched out into consumer and pet foods with the well known brands Uncle Ben's Rice and Whiskas under the Mars umbrella. Mars is a noted supporter of Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington.

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