March 22, 2019

The Billionaire Series: 5 billionaires you have probably never heard of

The Billionaire Series: 5 billionaires you have probably never heard of

A billionaire is often easily recognizable by the class they exude. However, some, though filthy rich, do not have much taste for the limelight. Or any at all. There are plenty of billionaires who, despite their incredible accomplishments and contributions, choose to avoid the press entirely. Each of these billionaires have had an incredible climb to the economic top of the world and deserve to have their stories told:


Dr Min Kao

This is the billionaire you can thank for no longer having to decipher ever-folding road maps. Or even print out directions from Mapquest. Dr. Min Kao co-founded Garmin Corporation in 1989 alongside Gary Burrell. He figured out the design and engineering of the software that gets you around town. It also and keeps the directionally challenged from making the wrong turn.

As of 2017, his net worth was estimated at 2.9 billion.

There’s a reason you haven’t heard of this billionaire though, he is hyper-humble. Garmin vice-president Jon Cassat refers to him as “a genuinely modest man. He celebrates collective achievement. There’s a culture at Garmin of servant leadership.”

The billionaire declines most all interviews, and deflects all praise to the hard work of the people around him. He also dabbles in philanthropy, frequently donating money to his old school, to help attract young would-be engineers to the field. “Modest” and “generous” are always welcome terms to hear when describing the world’s wealthiest, and Dr. Min Kao exemplifies both.


James Leprino

There are a number of ways to earn your billions: you could work the stocks, invent something crucial to our advancement, or pick a billionaire to be your mommy or daddy. The simplest way, however, is to fill a need, and that’s exactly what James Leprino did—he filled the world’s need for cheese. His Leprino Foods company is the largest mozzarella producer in the world, which lead to just so much cheddar.

James inherited the family cheese business in the ’50s, leading Leprino Foods from the small market, dealing in groceries and handmade cheese, to the dominant force it is today.

Today, Leprino Foods provides cheese to chains around the world, like Domino’s, Papa John’s and Pizza Hut, along with packaged food companies like Hot Pockets and Stouffer’s boxed lasagna.

Being the cheese guy amounted to a net worth of about $3 billion in 2017.

Seems cheese is a great way to bring home the bread.


David Murdock

Some people just have a natural affinity for making big bucks. David Murdock, for example, was drafted into the US Army during World War II, and returned stateside to find himself homeless and hopeless. It was only when a good-hearted citizen offered him some assistance, that his luck began to change.

The man helped him scrape together $1,200 in loans. He bought the closing diner where he once lingered, and flipped it for $700 in profits ten months later. He traveled west and continued to find success as a real estate agent in Phoenix, Arizona. When the real estate game went under, he began acquiring businesses. The newest failing business he took on was the near-bankrupt Hawaiian firm Castle & Cooke, and under their flag, he took the obscure pineapple-and-banana company Dole Foods, and ran with it.

Murdock is valued at 2.7 billion. Not bad for a former homeless vet.

Alongside being a master at business-CPR, Murdock is as healthy as his pineapples. A big part of Dole’s branding was getting people to be more health conscious, a message Murdock truly believes. He posts his eating regimen on a Huffington Post blog and plans on living to see his 125th birthday. Bad news for anyone waiting on that inheritance.


Carlos Slim

It’s hard to believe that someone – a billionaire, no less – competing with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet for title of “Richest Person” isn’t a household name. But maybe you’re just not asking the right household. Carlos Slim is easily the richest man in Mexico. He was even ranked as the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013. Slim is a legendary investor with an impeccable track record. He is believed to have business interests in nearly every aspect of the Mexican economy, and even beyond.

The “Warren Buffett of Mexico” is best known as chairman and CEO of Teléfonos de México, handling nearly all the landline phone calls in Mexico, as well as América Móvil, which runs 70% of the cellular traffic in the country. As The Economist explains, “Mexicans complain that it is impossible to pass a day without putting pesos into Mr Slim’s pockets.

Carlos Slim is all about the business, but not so much about the businesses. He didn’t pick up stake in the New York Times for his love of the press, but because he sees the potential value he can gain with the paper as an asset. Besides, casting such a wide net when it comes to what he owns allows his wealth to remain pretty secure. If one industry is going under, he has plenty others to balance the dead weight up.


Ingvar Kamprad







For some, hustling is in their blood. Swedish IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad began his fortune by selling matches at age five, later upgrading to selling Christmas decorations, fish, and pencils on his bike by age ten. Kamprad suffers from dyslexia, so his father rewarded him for his good grades in school with cash — he would later use this money to found IKEA in 1943. The company initially sold small household items like picture frames, but upped the ante to furniture five years in. The “IK” comes from his initials, and the “EA” from the farm he was born on (as well as the nearest villages, Elmtardy and Agunnaryd respectively.)

In 1956, Kamprad flipped the furniture market on its head by introducing “flatpacking,” the technique of letting people buy their furniture in pieces, to assemble on their own. This proved to be a major game changer, which vastly cut costs for IKEA (and drastically increased headaches of people trying to read the instructions). Though over 90, he still serves as a senior adviser, despite his son Mathias’ role as chairman. On the idea of stepping away, he had this to say: “Oh, I have so much work to do and no time to die.”

Kamprad isn’t just about making money — he’s all about saving money. He lives in a modest house, eats at his own store’s cafe, and flies economy class when he travels, despite being rich enough to own his own mansion, army of chefs, and private jet with ease. For a man with an estimated net worth of $42.8 billion, you’d think he’d try eating something other than IKEA Swedish meatballs.

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