Meet The Billionaires Whose Fortunes Soared The Most In 2021
From a diehard Tesla investor to a UK. fintech mogul, here are the 10 billionaires whose fortunes increased the most in percentage terms last year.
Of the billionaires who became wealthier in 2021, a few must be especially happy with how the year went: those whose net worth increased the most in percentage terms.
These tycoons and investors may not boast Elon Musk- or Jeff Bezos-sized fortunes of over $100 billion, but each of them more than tripled their net worth over 12 short months. Some are founders of private companies that grew in value due to new funding rounds, while others benefited from the soaring value of publicly traded stock or cryptocurrencies.
An eclectic group, here are the 10 moguls who kicked off 2021 as billionaires—and who grew their three-comma fortunes to newfound heights.
1. Tatyana Bakalchuk
Percentage gain: 1,075%
Bakalchuk, the founder of Russian e-commerce retailer Wildberries, is worth an estimated $12.9 billion, up from just 1.1 billion at the start of 2021, thanks to a surge in demand for online shopping during the pandemic–and soaring valuations of Wildberries’ publicly traded peers. The richest woman billionaire in Russia, Bakalchuk has overseen Wildberries’ global expansion to other global markets, including the United States. The company doubled its revenues in 2020 to an estimated $5.7 billion.
A former English teacher and mother of four, Bakalchuk, 46, founded Wildberries in 2004 from her Moscow apartment while on maternity leave. In the early years, she resold clothes from German retailer Otto. Today, Wildberries offers over 31,000 brands on its website.
2. Nik Storonsky
Citizenship: UK. and Russia
Percentage gain: 547%
Storonsky, the CEO and cofounder of banking fintech Revolut, saw his net worth surge nearly 550% to a whopping $7.1 billion from 1.1 billion. In July, Revolut completed an $800 million funding round which valued the company at $33 billion, making it the UK.’s most valuable fintech startup. Storonsky owns more than 20% of the firm.
Storonsky, who lives in London and holds dual UK.-Russian citizenship, got his start as a derivatives trader at Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse. Under his leadership, Revolut has attracted more than 10 million customers and processed over 350 million transactions. The revenue of this so-called “neobank” grew 34% in 2020—from $229 million to $307 million—though losses also climbed 57%.
3. Leo Koguan
Citizenship: United States
Percentage gain: 481%
Koguan, a Singapore-based businessman and investor, grew his wealth in 2021 with a bold investment strategy: bet the house on Tesla call options. The gambit has paid off handsomely for Koguan as Tesla shares surged last year, thanks to retail investment mania and Tesla’s strides in manufacturing and delivery capabilities. Koguan’s net worth is up 481% since last year, topping an estimated $8.1 billion as of Dec 31, 2021.
Koguan built his fortune in the less sexy IT industry. A graduate of New York University School of Law, Koguan cofounded IT services provider SHI International in 1989 with his then-wife Thai Lee, who continues to run the company. Koguan lives in a Singapore penthouse, which he purchased from British vacuum cleaning billionaire James Dyson.
4. Luo Liguo
Percentage gain: 472%
Chinese billionaire Luo grew his net worth to $16.6 billion, a near 500% gain, thanks to boom times for Hoshine Silicon Industry, a supplier of silicon metals used in electronics, solar panels and chemical products that Luo chairs. Shares of the company, which is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, rose from $5.20 (33 yuan) to nearly $21 (132 yuan) over the course of 2021.
Luo’s family members help run Hoshine Silicon Industry: His wife Wang Baodi is a director, his daughter Luo Yi is the vice chairman, and his son Luo Yedong is his assistant. In June, the U.S. government banned imports of products made by Luo’s company because of its alleged ties to forced labor in China’s western Xinjiang region. A spokesperson for Hoshine has not yet replied to a request for comment from Fintech Zoom.
5. Cameron Winklevoss & Tyler Winklevoss
Citizenship: United States
Percentage Gain: 440% Each
Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the crypto investors and twin brothers, were each worth an estimated $4.4 billion at the end of 2021–and 440% wealthier than a year earlier. That’s because Bitcoin closed 2021 with an impressive 56% annual gain, driven by a surge of retail investment and growing bullishness among financial institutions and famous investors, while Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, clocked a 400% annual gain. The duo also run crypto exchange Gemini, which they founded in 2014 and whose valuation rose in November 2021 when it pulled in a $400 million investment.
Harvard graduates, former Olympic rowers and college-era antagonists of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (as immortalized in the Hollywood film The Social Network), Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss first invested in Bitcoin in 2012. The two poured millions of dollars from their $65 million Facebook settlement into the fledgling digital currency, which cost less than $100 at the time. (Today Bitcoin trades at over $45,000).
7. Bom Kim
Citizenship: South Korea
Percentage Gain: 416%
Kim, the 43-year-old founder of South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang, boosted his fortune to $5.2 billion during 2021, thanks to his company’s public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in March 2021. As a 10% shareholder in Coupang, Kim has become one of the richest self-made billionaires in South Korea—not to mention, a stark contrast to the country’s chaebol conglomerates and their dynastic wealth.
However, shares of Coupang have slumped 40% since their public market debut, as the online retailer has been embroiled in a number of controversies. After a deadly fire at one of its fulfillment centers in June, Coupang faced widespread criticism and backlash over its working conditions; a subsequent company boycott hurt sales and its reputation.
8. Pavel Durov
Percentage Gain: 403%
Few have benefited more from Big Tech backlash than Durov, the founder and owner of privacy-focused messaging app Telegram. The tech mogul (who also created the popular Russian social media site Vkontakte) is worth an estimated $17.2 billion up from $3.4 billion at the start of 2021, thanks to his booming business: Telegram was the fifth most downloaded app in 2021, with 329 million new downloads.
Durov also faced hurdles. Telegram came under pressure last year as malware threats and scams proliferated on its platform. And in December, Durov endorsed a spin-off crypto project, dubbed Toncoin, after the S.E.C. shot down Telegram’s earlier attempt to create a Telegram native cryptocurrency network.
9. Wang Junlin
Percentage Gain: 400%
Thirsty Chinese imbibers have fueled the fortune of Wang Junlin, chair of Sichuan Langjiu, one of China’s largest spirits suppliers. The 59-year-old self-made man is worth an estimated $4.8 billion, up from about $1 billion at the start of 2021. Wang’s commonly known “Lang” alcohol brand is named after its place of origin, the town of Er Lang in western China’s Sichuan Province, near where the entrepreneur grew up.
10. Philippe Laffont
Citizenship: United States
Percentage Gain: 364%
Laffont’s hedge fund and venture capital firm Coatue Management has been betting big on tech, swelling assets to $50 billion. Fintech Zoom pegs Laffont’s fortune at $6.5 billion, up from $1.4 billion at the start of 2021. Some of Coatue’s most prominent investments: Tik Tok-parent Bytedance, Snapchat parent Snap and music streaming service Spotify.