Strategy 17 people who became billionaires with the least amount of work

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Most billionaires needed a lifetime of work to amass their fortunes, but others were able to earn $1 billion in a relatively short amount of time.

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire after just four years of work at Facebook. play

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire after just four years of work at Facebook.

(Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
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  • Most billionaires needed a lifetime of work to amass their fortunes, but others were able to earn $1 billion in a relatively short amount of time.
  • The list includes online commerce pioneers like Jeff Bezos and tech innovators like Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel, who all became billionaires with less than six years of work.
  • Some of the billionaires who got rich quick are among the most influential business players in the world.


Making a billion dollars sounds like it would take a lifetime of hard work.

But some people managed to pull it off in just a year.

We compiled a list of self-made billionaires who made their fortunes the fastest. The list includes pioneers of online commerce to early execs of the biggest social media site on the planet, and many of them are among the wealthiest and most influential players in the business world.

Read on to see who became a billionaire within the shortest time frames. But be warned — their results aren't easy to replicate.

Eduardo Saverin — 1 year

Eduardo Saverin — 1 year play

Eduardo Saverin — 1 year

(Munshi Ahmed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Eduardo Saverin's saga, from co-founding Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 to getting squeezed out of the company a year later, was dramatized in the movie "The Social Network."

Despite working at Facebook for less than a year, Saverin retained a minority stake in the company, which translated into more than $1 billion by 2010. Today, Saverin is worth more than $9 billion.



Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy — 3 years

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy — 3 years play

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy — 3 years

(AP)

Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy founded Snapchat in 2011 after they came with the idea of a photo-sharing app in which the pictures disappear.

By 2014, their sizable stock holdings put their net worths over $1 billion, and the 20-somethings appeared on the Forbes billionaires list one year later.



Sean Parker — 1.5 years

Sean Parker — 1.5 years play

Sean Parker — 1.5 years

(mager / Flickr)

Sean Parker may have co-founded the pioneering music-sharing site Napster, but it was his brief stint as president of Facebook that earned him billionaire status.

Parker served as Facebook's first president for a little over a year starting in 2004. He left the company in early 2006, but retained nearly 70 million Facebook shares, according to Bloomberg. He sold about 3.5 million of them ahead of Facebook's 2012 initial public offering, putting him firmly in billionaire territory.



Pierre Omidyar — 3 years

Pierre Omidyar — 3 years play

Pierre Omidyar — 3 years

(Brian Harkin/Getty Images)

Pierre Omidyar launched eBay.com in 1995 at the age of 28 — the first item the auction site ever sold was a broken laser pointer.

Three years later, the company went public at $18 a share. Within three months, stocks reached the $300 mark, making Omidyar a billionaire.



Jeff Bezos — 6 years

Jeff Bezos — 6 years play

Jeff Bezos — 6 years

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In 1993, investment banker Jeff Bezos started an online book store called Amazon.com. Six years later, in 1999, he surged into the Forbes' World's Billionaire list with a $10 billion fortune.

His net worth took a hit in the mid-2000s, but has since surged to over $100 billion, not only making him the richest person in the world, but the richest person in history.



Jay S. Walker — 1 year

Jay S. Walker — 1 year play

Jay S. Walker — 1 year

(Wikimedia Commons)

Jay S. Walker may hold the record for fastest ascent to billionaire's status — he joined the club in 1998, just one year after he founded Priceline.com.

He fell off the billionaires list a year later after Priceline got hammered during the dot-com bust, and he left the company in October 2000. One year later, he sold his stock for "only" $426 million.



Mark Zuckerberg — 4 years

Mark Zuckerberg — 4 years play

Mark Zuckerberg — 4 years

(Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook)

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg first entered the Forbes World Billionaire List back in 2008, thanks to his substantial holdings in the social media company he started four years earlier.

Nowadays, Zuckerberg is worth more than $60 billion.



Jerry Yang and David Filo — 4 years

Yahoo cofounders Jerry Yang and David Filo. play

Yahoo cofounders Jerry Yang and David Filo.

(Reuters)

David Filo and Jerry Yang co-founded Yahoo in 1994. Two years later, they took their company public, and by 1998, the search-engine pioneers had officially become billionaires.



Eric Lefkofsky, Andrew Mason, and Brad Keywell — 3 years

Eric Lefkofsky, Andrew Mason, and Brad Keywell — 3 years play

Eric Lefkofsky, Andrew Mason, and Brad Keywell — 3 years

(Mark Abadi/Reuters/Getty Images)

The three founders of Groupon all hit the jackpot in 2011 when their company went public, making billionaires out of Eric Lefkofsky, Andrew Mason, and Brad Keywell. Not bad for a company they started in 2008.



Mark Cuban — 4 years

Mark Cuban — 4 years play

Mark Cuban — 4 years

(Ezra Shaw/Getty)

Mark Cuban is one of the most famous billionaires in the US, but how he officially joined the three-comma club isn't as widely known.

The future "Shark Tank" star became a billionaire back in 1999, when Yahoo bought his internet radio company Broadcast.com, four years after Cuban co-founded it. The $5.7 billion acquisition added $1.6 billion to Cuban's net worth, according to The Wall Street Journal, and it remains Yahoo's largest acquisition to date.



Patrick and John Collison — 4 years

Patrick and John Collison — 4 years play

Patrick and John Collison — 4 years

(Stripe)

Brothers Patrick and John Collison became billionaires in 2016 after their four-year-old company Stripe, which streamlines online payments, was valued at $9 billion.

The valuation made the 27-year-old John, the younger of the two siblings, the youngest self-made billionaire in the world, a title he still holds.



Gary Winnick — 2.5 years

Gary Winnick — 2.5 years play

Gary Winnick — 2.5 years

(Wikimedia Commons)

In 1997, Gary Winnick founded the telecommunications company Global Crossing, which helped companies like Microsoft and AT&T access their Asian customers. Just one year later, Global Crossing went public, and its massive valuation earned Winick $4.5 billion.

By 2002, Global Crossing had gone bankrupt — although Winnick had sold most of his shares by then.