SOME of the richest, most successful entrepreneurs take decades to accumulate their fortunes. But others strike gold very early on.
It’s never been easy to get rich so young. Some of the wealthiest in our midst took almost a lifetime to amass wealth. Surprisingly, in a Forbes article penned by Kate Vinton, a record 66 members of the 2016 FORBES Billionaires List are under the age of 40, more than triple the number four years ago and a seven-fold increase since 2010. They are among 30 billionaires under 40. More notable is the fact that the majority of these youthful billionaires have created their own fortunes through innovation and imagination with a hefty dose of some good luck.
Of the 36 who made their own way, more than three-quarters got rich in the tech sector, including 25 billionaires whose fortunes come from unicorn startups valued at more than $1 billion.
The youngest of these self-made tech mavens is 26-year-old Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel (born June 4, 1990) who first appeared on the Billionaires List last year with a net worth of $1.5 billion.
According to Wikipedia, Evan was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of Melissa Ann Thomas and John W. Spiegel, who are lawyers. Spiegel grew up in Pacific Palisades, California. He was educated at the Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, and attended Stanford University.
In 2012, Evan left Stanford to focus on Snapchat shortly before completing his degree. While studying product design at Stanford, he proposed “Snapchat” as a class project. Spiegel co-founded the mobile application Snapchat along with Robert Murphy and Reggie Brown. He is the CEO of Snapchat.
The app — which, in the place of archived, chronicled posts a la Facebook, allows users to send messages that disappear shortly after being opened — has come to heavily influence, if not define, the way young people communicate, making it integral to brands, advertisers and anyone else looking to capture the attention of millennials and Gen Z-ers.
Like many tech startups from near the Silicon Valley area, Snapchat has its roots in a bunch of college kids.
In an Entrepreneur Magazine article written by Laura Entis, if Spiegel is quick to acknowledge the privilege of being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he’s also quick to point out that privilege isn’t everything. To truly succeed, one must capitalize on it. “It’s not about working harder; it’s about working the system,” he said.
At Stanford, he did just that, aggressively networking in order to meet influential people, including Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Intuit co-founder and chairman of the executive committee Scott Cook, who set him up with a job at the tech company while he was still a student.
A university dropout
In 2012, Evan dropped out of Stanford and his course in product design, joining the same club as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. Despite being a frat house favorite, he failed to graduate, quitting college just a few credits short of earning his degree.
His first app was a flop
Digital Spy online also reported that prior to releasing his money maker, the entrepreneur launched “Picaboo”, a photo-sharing app that deleted images within 10 seconds of them being viewed by their recipient. Sounds familiar, right? Picaboo was a flop, failing to gain traction before being canned and rebranded as Snapchat. The rest, as they say, is history, more than 200 million users later.
He turned down $3 billion
Back in late 2013, Evan Spiegel turned down a huge sum of money from social giant Facebook.
With Zuckerberg’s team willing to front up $3 billion to acquire Snapchat, Spiegel reportedly gave them the runaround before turning down the sizeable bid. Instead of coveting instant riches, the Snapchat man admirably opted to pursue the dream of building a successful business.
“There are very few people in the world who get to build a business like this,” he told Forbes at the time. “I think trading that for some short-term gain isn’t very interesting.”