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Gates dethroned as tech's richest get thumped

Larry Ellison searches sofa for change

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It seems that tech's billionaires are sharing the privations of ordinary citizens, whose savings are vanishing and pensions becoming worthless as stock markets tumble.

Bill Gates' 15-year reign as America's richest person is reportedly over, as the value of his investments has shrunk, surrendering his crown to investor Warren Buffett.

Gates, who amassed his fortune on Windows with Microsoft, has seen his net worth fall by $2.5bn to $55bn in four weeks while Buffett, who made his cash pile by investing in a broad portfolio with his Berkshire Hathaway baby, soared $8bn to $58bn, according to a revised Forbes rich list.

America's third richest person, and tech's best remunerated chief executive, has also taken a thumping but still holds on to his number-three slot. Larry Ellison is now worth $25.4bn, down from $27bn in the middle of September.

Forbes produces a list of the richest 400 Americans each year and 2008 was no exception. When the annual list was revealed on September 17, there was little change in the established hierarchy of the fabulously wealthy.

The publication, though, decided to revisit the list in the wake of what could be the biggest crisis to hit investors of all sizes since the Wall Street crash of 1929. The annual list was calculated using publicly traded stock prices of August 29, while the updated list used stock prices from October 1.

Given that markets have fallen further since October 1, Gates, Ellison, and possibly even the shrewd Buffett are probably worth even less today. ®

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