Want To Get Filthy Rich? Don’t Try Tech

I hate to break the news to you, but if you moved to Silicon Valley to get billionaire-rich off an earth-shattering tech startup, you’re almost certain to fail. While tech continues to represent nearly 20% of the S&P 500 and is a key factor in driving the global economy, your odds of becoming a billionaire might actually be higher by going into cement. Or construction. Or even fizzy lifting drinks.

Forbes just released its list of global billionaires, and tech comes up short. Sure, Microsoft founder Bill Gates is still the second-richest man on the planet, followed quickly by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (number 5 – sorry about that, Larry). But of the top-100 richest men and women, only 10 slots are filled by techies, whereas a full 31 spots are filled by people that trade in natural resources of some kind, and 10 are filled by people who make candy, beer or other food.

Which isn’t to say that tech is a bad place to be. According to Simply Hired, the average technology sector job pays $66,000, while denizens of Silicon Valley average more than $100,000. That’s not billionaire rich, and it won’t even get you into the hated 1% club (people with that distinction average $1.2 million in income), but among the 7 billion people on this earth, $66,000 to $100,000 equals “mega-rich.”

(See also Over-Wired Americans Are Richer Than They Realize.)

Still, tech should be minting more billionaires, given its outsized impact on the economy, as measured by S&P 500:

Source: Bespoke Invest, October 2012

Or maybe 10% of the top-100 richest people is about right, given that so many more spots are filled by those that do old-fashioned things like feed the world, manufacture goods, and mine raw materials. With the vast majority of the planet unable to afford the latest iGadget from Apple or database from Oracle, it’s useful to remember that for most of the world, these are luxuries, not necessities.

Sometimes Silicon Valley forgets this, as this recent article from the Palo Alto Daily News reminds us:

I weep for these poor millionaires. Maybe they should try oil and gas. Plenty of billionaires there.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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