Gates keeps top billionaire spot

Bill Gates, Microsoft’s chairman, was the world’s richest person for the 14th consecutive year, Forbes announced yesterday as it debuted its mogul rankings for 2006.

Gates, whose estimated net worth climbed US$6 billion in 2006 to $56 billion, was joined in the top 25 by technology heavyweights Larry Ellison, chairman of Oracle, 11th place, $21.5 billion; Paul Allen, formerly of Microsoft, 19th, $18 billion; and Azim Premji, chairman of India’s technology services company Wipro Technologies, 21st, $17.1 billion.

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, however, watched his ranking drop from 24 in 2005 to 31 even as his net worth climbed to $15 billion from $13.6 billion.

Michael Dell, the back-again CEO of Dell, placed 30th last year with $15.8 billion, a drop in both ranking (12) and worth ($17.1 billion) from 2005, mirroring the decline of the company he founded.

Other notable names on the list include Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, 132, $5.7 billion; Google’s co-founders Sergey Brin, 26, $16.6 billion, and Larry Page 26, $16.6 billion, and Google’s chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, 116, $6.2 billion; Amazon.com’s CEO Jeff Bezos, 188, $4.4 billion; Yahoo’s co-founder Jerry Yang, 432, $2.2 billion; Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, 243, $3.6 billion; and eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar 76, $8.8 billion.

Among former technology billionaires who didn’t make the cut in the 2007 ranking was Canadian Calvin Ayre, founder of the online gaming company Bodog Entertainment Group. In 2005, Ayre’s net worth was estimated at $1 billion, but the U.S. government’s crackdown on Web gambling shoved him off the list.

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