21:02 | 24/10/2021 Print
|Who Are Richest Black Americans? – Forbes 400 List|
The pandemic has made it difficult financially for many Americans, but the rich are getting richer. Forbes has revealed the 400wealthiest Americans, and as far as Black people, only two made the list.
|Photo: The New York Times|
Robert Frederick Smith (born December 1, 1962) is an American businessman, philanthropist, chemical engineer, and investor. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.
Smith was born to Dr. William Robert Smith and Dr. Sylvia Myrna Smith, who were both school teachers. He grew up in a predominantly African American, middle-class neighborhood in Denver, Colorado. When he was an infant, his mother carried him at the March on Washington, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. He attended Carson Elementary School and East High School in Denver.
In high school, he applied for an internship at Bell Labs but was told the program was intended for college students. Smith persisted, calling each Monday for five months. When a student from M.I.T. did not show up, he got the position, and that summer he developed a reliability test for semiconductors. Smith earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University in 1985. At Cornell, he became a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha. In 1994, he received his Master of Business Administration from Columbia University with concentrations in finance and marketing.
|Photo: The New York Times|
After graduating from Cornell, Smith worked at Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Air Products & Chemicals and later at Kraft General Foods as a chemical engineer, where he registered two United States and two European patents. From 1994 to 2000, he worked for Goldman Sachs in technology investment banking, first in New York City and then in Silicon Valley. He advised on mergers and acquisition activity with companies such as Apple and Microsoft. In 2018, Smith was included in Vanity Fair’s New Establishment List, which is an annual ranking of individuals who have made impactful business innovations.
In 2014, Smith became the founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation, which has invested in organizations such as Cornell, the National Park Foundation, and Susan G. Komen. Also in 2014, Smith received an honorary doctorate from Huston-Tillotson University.
In 2015, Smith sponsored the college education of all returned Boko Haram girls.
Smith has also served as the chairman of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, on the board of overseers of Columbia Business School, as a member of the Cornell Engineering College Council, on the Cornell University Tech Board, and as a Trustee of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco. He has donated to The Sphinx Organization, which supports diversity in the arts.
Smith became the board chairman of Carnegie Hall in 2016, the first African American to hold that position.
Also that year, Cornell University named the Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after him, following a donation. He was later recognized as a distinguished alumnus by the college.
Smith was named in The Chronicle of Philanthropy's "Philanthropy 50" in 2017. In May 2017, The Giving Pledge announced that Smith had joined as its first African-American signatory. That year, Smith was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Denver.
In 2018, Fund II Foundation gave a $2.7 million grant to the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and Smith has served as a board member since. This grant helped digitize Armstrong's collection to make it available to the public.
In 2018, Smith was the largest individual donor at the City of Hope Gala, which funds prostate cancer treatment and breast cancer research for black men and women. That same year, Smith donated $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation to advance prostate cancer research among African-American men. Also in 2018, Smith donated $1 million to the Cultural Performance Center at the Denny Farrell Riverbank State Park in Harlem, which was later renamed the Robert Frederick Smith Center for Performing Arts.
Smith has received the Candle in Business and Philanthropy Award from Morehouse College, the International Medical Corps Humanitarian of the Year Award, Ebony’s John H. Johnson Award, and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Chairman's Award, among others. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of International Affairs from American University's School of International Service and an honorary doctorate from Morehouse College.
In May 2019, while at Morehouse College to receive an honorary doctorate and deliver the commencement address, he announced that he and his family would pay off the entire student loan debt of the 2019 Morehouse College graduating class of 396 students. He had previously donated $1.5 million to the school in January 2019, to be used for scholarships and a park.
In October 2019, Smith received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, which is given to individuals who have donated private wealth to the public. Smith was also inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame as a Class of 2019 Legend. In April 2020, Governor Greg Abbott named Smith to the Strike Force to Open Texas – a group "tasked with finding safe and effective ways to slowly reopen the state" amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
David L. Steward (born 1951) is chairman and founder of World Wide Technology, Inc., one of the largest African-American-owned businesses in America.
After graduating from college, Steward worked at Wagner Electric as a production manager (1974–1975), a sales representative at Missouri Pacific Railroad Company(1975–1979), and a senior account executive at Federal Express (1979–1984), where he was recognized as salesman of the year and inducted into the company's hall of fame in 1981. He owned Transportation Business Specialists and Transport Administrative Services in the years leading up to founding World Wide Technology.
In 1990, Steward founded World Wide Technology, a leading systems integrator that provides technology products, services and supply chain solutions to customers around the globe. In 1993, WWT concentrated its focus on the implementation of enterprise wide imaging, conversion services, and telecommunication networks. These integrated solutions have greatly enhanced WWT's overall market position and long term viability.
In 1999 World Wide Technology spun off its telecommunications division to form Telcobuy.com. Sales for the two companies continued to grow, although revenues slipped in 2002 as World Wide Technology felt the impact of the technology recession. In 2003 combined reported revenues passed $1 billion, and Steward formed World Wide Technology Holding Company as the parent company for the two firms.
|Photo: St. Louis American|
In 2011, World Wide Technology's annual revenue are estimated to be greater than $3.2 billion, ranking it as one of St. Louis’ largest private companies.
Steward serves on committees and boards that include: Civic Progress of St. Louis; the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association; Missouri Technology Corporation, appointed by the Governor of Missouri; Webster University; BJC Health System; First Banks, Inc.; St. Louis Science Center; United Way of Greater St. Louis; The Greater St. Louis Area Council of Boy Scouts of America and Harris-Stowe State College African-American Business Leadership Council. In 2011, Steward was appointed to the Board of Curators, University of Missouri (term expires in 2017) by Governor Jay Nixon.
It’s been a terrible year for many, but the good times keep on rolling for America’s richest. For the 40th annual Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans, the members’ collective fortune rose a massive 40% over the last year to $4.5 trillion, up from $3.2 trillion. Nearly all are richer than they were a year ago. The top 20 on the list are together worth a stunning $1.8 trillion. Forbes calculated net worths for the list using stock prices from September 3, 2021—which turned out to be close to record highs for U.S. stock indices like the S&P 500.
The richest person in America, for the fourth year in a row, is Jeff Bezos. The founder and, since July, chairman of online retailer and cloud computing juggernaut Amazon is worth $201 billion—$22 billion more than last year’s list. This marks the first time anyone on The Forbes 400 has been worth $200 billion or more. Close behind at number two is Elon Musk, worth $190.5 billion—almost triple what he was worth on the 2020 list, due to the huge runup in the price of electric car company Tesla’s shares.
Mark Zuckerberg took the third spot, thanks to a 63% jump in Facebook stock since last year’s list. Bill Gates clocks in at number four, the first time he hasn’t been in one of the top two spots in three decades. Gates and Melinda French Gates announced in May that they divorcing after 27 years; soon after he transferred her about $5.6 billion worth of stock in companies like Deere & Co and Canadian Railway. Melinda French Gates appears on The Forbes 400 for the first time this year at No. 158 worth an estimated $6.3 billion.
Altogether there were 44 newcomers to the ranking, the richest of whom is 29-year-old cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried, worth $22.5 billion. He’s the youngest list member this year and the richest self-made newcomer in the history of The Forbes 400. Two competitors—Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, the cofounders of cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global— also join the 400 list for the first time, following the public listing of their company in April. In total there are seven cryptocurrency entrepreneurs on the ranks—six more than a year ago, including new members (and twin brothers) Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss. Another newcomer is R.J. Scaringe, founder of privately held Rivian, which is working to produce electric pickup trucks and SUVs and counts Amazon and Ford as investors.
The minimum net worth needed to gain—or hold onto—a spot on the list this year jumped to $2.9 billion. For the prior three years, the cutoff had been $2.1 billion. Fifty-one billionaires dropped off the ranking, including Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey—both were overtaken by other billionaires.
The number of women on The Forbes 400 is unchanged from a year ago at 56—including two women, Judy Love and Lynda Resnick, who share a fortune with their spouses. Though Oprah Winfrey and Gap cofounder Doris Fisher fell off the list, newcomers including Melinda French Gates (following her divorce from Bill Gates) and Miriam Adelson, heir to her late husband Sheldon Adelson’s stake in the Las Vegas Sands casino empire, join the ranks. The richest woman in America, for the seventh year in a row, is Walmart heir Alice Walton, worth an estimated $67.9 billionA total of 282 members of this year’s ranking have fortunes that are self-made—defined by Forbes to mean they are entrepreneurs who either started a company (like Jeff Bezos founding Amazon) or were hired by someone to help build one (such as Meg Whitman, who was CEO of Ebay for a decade, starting in 1998, and obtained shares of the company as a result of that job) —as opposed to being an heir. Sixty-one on the list inherited their fortune and another 57 inherited fortunes and then have played an active role in increasing them.
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