In this article, we are going to list the Top 15 Serial Entrepreneurs in the World. Click to skip ahead and jump to the Top 5 Serial Entrepreneurs in the World.
Serial entrepreneurs start new companies, make them successful, and sell them to move on to their next startup. Serial entrepreneurship is on the rise in the U.S. Success stories of figures like Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Square founder Jim McKelvey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Gumroad’s Sahil Lavingia, 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki and several others are fueling inspiration across the country among young people to launch startups. Data from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association suggest that venture capitalists invested a whopping $156.2 billion into domestic startups in 2020 alone.
Serial Entrepreneurship is a Tough Game
But starting and selling companies is not for everyone. Data from TechCrunch suggests that the chances of a startup being acquired at or after Series C are very small. To give you some context, making it to Series C is extremely difficult. TechCrunch’s report said that out of every 1,000 startups that successfully close a Pre-Series A funding round, only 400 make it to Series A.
Successful founders and venture capitalists are also helping startups grow and reach their goals. For example Jim McKelvey launched a startup accelerator SixThirty, which will back four financial-services startups each fall and spring and invest $100,000 a year.
Entrepreneurs who risk starting up a venture are rewarded with profits and growth opportunities if their idea becomes successful. But if their calculations and applications were not properly assessed, they could suffer great losses. A serial entrepreneur, on the other hand, takes risks repeatedly. A serial entrepreneur analyzes real problems and identifies the solutions for which a large number of customers are willing to pay.
Unlike a traditional entrepreneur who prefers to build a company and stick with it until the end, a serial entrepreneur does not stop at a single venture. Steve Jobs is one of the perfect examples of the top serial entrepreneurs in the world. In 1976, college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computers Inc in a garage. In December 1980, Apple launched its initial public offering selling 4.6 million shares at $22 per share. It was a massive hit by the end of the day, as the stock had increased in value by approximately 32%, leaving the company with a market value of $1.778 billion. Today, Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) trades at $135.37 per share with a market cap of over $2 trillion. In 1985 Steve Jobs created NeXT, an operating system and business computer company which later on benefited the operating systems of Apple computers. In 1997, Apple bought NeXT for $429 million and 1.5 million shares of Apple stock. In 1986, the serial tech entrepreneur acquired the gold standard of the animated filmmaker, Pixar, for $5 million. In 2006, Jobs sold Pixar to Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) for over $7 billion. Today, Pixar Animated Studios is acknowledged as one of the world’s most influential film studios.
The Antifragility of Serial Entrepreneurs
While chasing for success has always been the goal for many business founders, serial entrepreneurs are anti-fragile: they gain from failure. Studies show serial entrepreneurs have greater success than first-timers. As to the obvious reason, serial entrepreneurs have more experience in managing a business as it is natural for them to look for different ventures they could invest in. According to a Harvard Business School paper about “Performance Persistence in Entrepreneurship”, serial entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed than first-time entrepreneurs or those who have failed in part because serial entrepreneurs “exhibit persistence in selecting the right industry and time to start new ventures”.
Through the years, serial entrepreneurs have been perfecting their skills in building successful ventures. Another research to back it up was performed by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in which they observed thousands of startups over 25 years. The purpose of the study entitled “Skill vs. Luck in Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital” was precisely to understand whether the success of serial entrepreneurs stems from the skills they have perfected in their careers or from external factors. The study found that “successful serial entrepreneurs are more likely to replicate the success of their past companies” and that “skills are an important determinant of success for entrepreneurial start-ups”. The study also highlighted the key distinction between previously successful founders and formerly unsuccessful entrepreneurs: “Entrepreneurs who have been successful in previous business are much more likely to succeed in current business than first-time entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who have previously failed.”
All evidence seems to point to the fact that one of the main skills of the top serial entrepreneurs in the world is to learn from their successes and failures to achieve more with their next venture.
We identified the top serial entrepreneurs in the world by screening Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaire list. Thus you will encounter some of the entrepreneurs on our list from the 25 Highest Earning Billionaires in 2020. To give you the most accurate ranking, we identified these high-profile serial entrepreneurs in the world not only by their net worth but also by the companies that they ventured in.
Let’s start our list of top 15 serial entrepreneurs in the world.
15. Gautam Adani
Net worth (in 2021): $32.2billion
One of the most successful top serial entrepreneurs in the world is ports tycoon, Gautam Adani. Adani Enterprises Ltd (NSE: ADANIENT) operates in different industries such as power generation, real estate, edible oil, and defense. The Indian multi-billionaire also manages Mundra Port in Gujarat and Abbot Point in Australia. Gautam Adani has also founded Adani Mining, wherein in 2019 the company was allowed to commercially mine one of the largest coal mines in the world, the Carmichael coal mine. Gautam Adani is also a major stakeholder in Mumbai International Airport, making him one of the richest entrepreneurs in India.
14. William Lei Ding
Net Worth (in 2021): $37.6 billion
One of the world’s largest online and mobile games businesses, NetEase Com Inc (NASDAQ: NTES), was founded by William Ding in 1997. The software company then partnered with Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) subsidiaries including Mojang and Blizzard Entertainment. Today, although NetEase is facing a tough battle in the gaming industry with Chinese rival Tencent, the company was able to expand its operations in online music, movies, and e-commerce. NetEase is one of the top Chinese stocks to buy now. Despite making a fortune in video games and internet services, Ding Lei made investments in agriculture as part of a bid to lift the profits of the remote communities of China.
13. David Thomson
Net worth (in 2021): $40.4 billion
David Thomson works as the chairman at one of the largest Canadian media conglomerates, Thomson Reuters (NYSE: TRI), and The Woodbridge Company, the family-owned investment firm. The wealthy Thomson Family also owns the Globe and Mail newspaper and holds a huge stake in the telecom company Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE). In 2019, David Thomson announced that he will be backing a digital venture in Argentina named Brubank, an online banking platform.
12. He Xiangjian
Net worth (in 2021): $41.6 billion
He Xiangjian is one of the top serial entrepreneurs in the world with a humble beginning. In 1968, he launched a lid production facility with a team of 23 residents from Beijiao City, Guangdong Province which became Midea, the largest appliance maker in the world. Today the company has more than 200 subsidiaries including Toshiba Lifestyle Products, Eureka, and robotics company Kuka.
11. François Pinault
Net worth (in 2021): $44 billion
François Pinault is the founder of the French multinational luxury brands company, Kering (EPA: KER). Pinault’s company manufactures and sells luxurious goods from various brands such as Saint Laurent, Gucci, Balenciaga, Puma, and Bottega Veneta. François Pinault founded Kering in 1963 which started as a wood and building construction company. In 2018, François Pinault invested in Muzik, a headphone company that uses a software program that connects people through social media.
10. Tadashi Yanai
Net worth (in 2021): $45.1 billion
The world’s third-largest manufacturer and retailer of apparel was founded in 1963 by Tadashi Yanai. One of Yanai’s pillar companies is the Tokyo-based apparel Uniqlo, which has a market cap of $9.2 billion and 2,250 stores in 25 countries. Tadashi Yanai was able to grow his retail clothing business by adding Theory, GU, J Brand, and Helmut Lang brands to his group of companies.
9. Daniel Gilbert
Net worth (in 2021): $45.4 billion
Country: United States
Dan Gilbert started his entrepreneurial career at the age of 22 when he co-founded Quicken, the biggest mortgage lender in the U.S. in 1985. In 2019, one of Gilbert’s ventures, an online sneaker platform StockX, became a unicorn with a valuation of $1.1 billion. In 2020, Quicken offered its IPO as Rocket Companies (NYSE: RKT) at a $36 billion valuation. Gilbert is also a serial sports entrepreneur as he owns NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers. The self-made billionaire also invested $5.6 billion to develop buildings in downtown Detroit which are anticipated to create 24,000 jobs for the locals.
8. Masayoshi Son
Net worth (in 2021): $45.7 billion
In the 1980s, Son established SoftBank (OTC: SFTBY), a company that today invests billions of dollars of capital into tech companies, including through its $100 billion Vision Fund. SoftBank has invested in major tech companies such as Uber (NYSE: UBER), WeWork, DoorDash (NYSE: DASH), and Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce retailer. The multi-billion-dollar investor and serial entrepreneur owns $45 million worth of residential properties in Tokyo.
7. Jack Ma
Net worth (in 2021): $61.9 billion
Jack Ma is currently the richest man in China with a net worth of almost $62 billion. The most influential Chinese entrepreneur has not always been successful as he struggled to get into university and attain a job. Much of Jack Ma’s wealth is linked to Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) but before he founded the e-commerce giant, he co-founded China Pages with his wife, a business that has developed websites for Chinese companies looking for clients internationally. In the following years, Alibaba became the “Amazon” of Asia and Ma was able to expand China’s trading platform through its subsidiaries that operate in e-commerce, cloud computing, AI, fintech, online payment services, entertainment, and internet services. Currently, Alibaba has a market cap of $714.846 billion.
6. Colin Zheng Huang
Net worth (in 2021): $66.3 billion
One of China’s largest e-commerce websites, Pinduoduo Inc ADR (NASDAQ: PDD), was founded and managed by Colin Huang in 2015. Before this huge success, Colin Huang also founded an online game company, Xinyoudi, in 2012, and an online shopping platform, Ouku.com. Huang has worked at Microsoft and Google.
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Disclosure: No position. Top 15 Serial Entrepreneurs in the World is originally published at Insider Monkey.