With an estimated net worth of $75 billion, Bill Gates, the richest person on Earth, would need to add another $925 billion to his fortune before becoming the first trillionaire in history. John D. Rockefeller, at his richest, was worth the equivalent of $350 billion in today’s money
“We need to be ready for a world with trillionaires in it,” says Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, the tech industry’s largest and most well-respected incubator for start-ups. “And that’s always going to feel deeply unfair. It feels unfair to me. But to drive society forward, you’ve got to let that happen…I think we just have to accept that there are going to be people who have wildly more money than others,” Altman says. “The tradeoff of that is that I think we should guarantee a pretty good standard of living for everybody, but this socialism ideal that everyone should be totally equal — I don’t think that’s going to work.” If the world is overflowing with money, most people will receive a small portion of that wealth, ideally enough to create a stable life should they choose to work or not, Altman believes. And at the other end will be the trillionaires.
Bob Lord, an inequality analyst and tax attorney, believes the shift in wealth could happen as early as 25 to 30 years from now.
According to Credit Suisse’s 2013 Global Wealth Report, global wealth has more than doubled since 2000, reaching an all-time high of $241 trillion. The analysis found there could be more than a billion millionaires globally, or roughly 20% of the adult population, within just two generations.
Oliver Williams, of the London-based consultants Wealth Insight, explained “If this scenario unfolds,” the authors write, “then billionaires will be commonplace, and there is likely to be a few trillionaires too — eleven according to our best estimate.”
There could be as many as 11 trillionaires walking the planet within the next 50 years.