Money Money Money

Who Are the Richest People in Washington?

That’s Billionaire with a capital B.

By Angela Cabotaje February 17, 2023 Published in the Spring 2023 issue of Seattle Met

Elon Musk is still one of the world’s richest people, despite plunking down $44 billion in 2022 to buy Twitter. But who were the top locals to grace Forbes’s billionaires list and secure their place in the three-comma club?

Note: These numbers were pulled from Forbes’s Real-Time Billionaires List in January 2023. And billions come and go, apparently.

Jeff Bezos

$107.3 billion

We all know the origin story: From a Bellevue garage, Bezos launched the e-commerce giant to rule them all. Today he’s expanded beyond Amazon into space travel, biotech, venture capital, and (gulp) media.

Bill Gates

$106 billion

Gracing Forbes’s list since 1987, the man behind Microsoft (and Clippy) has shifted from software to philanthropy and research, mostly through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Steve Ballmer

$78.5 billion

A former Microsoftie, Ballmer now is best known as the Los Angeles Clippers owner. His failed bid to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics in 2008 and keep them in town has won him legions of local fans nonetheless.

MacKenzie Scott

$24.9 billion

Her 2019 divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos left Scott with over $38 billion in stock, which she has committed to giving away within her lifetime. As of April 2022, her donations have topped $14.4 billion.

Melinda French Gates

$6.6 billion

Gates and ex-husband Bill are inextricably linked by their relationship and nonprofit foundation. But Gates’s advocacy work to uplift women around the world is a special cause all her own. 

Charles Simonyi

$5.1 billion

Simonyi built the first iterations of Microsoft Office and still has a mansion in Medina. His home away from home, though, might be the International Space Station, which he’s visited twice as a cosmo tourist.

Gabe Newell

$3.9 billion

Oh, look—another Microsoft alum. Newell, who developed the first operating systems for the tech giant, has added to his fortune as cofounder and CEO of Bellevue-based video game developer Valve.

Howard Schultz

$3.7 billion

The former Starbucks CEO hasn’t earned any public admiration as of late, as ongoing labor union disputes and that infamous deal to sell the Sonics linger in the Seattle zeitgeist.

Craig McCaw

$2 billion

After his father’s death, McCaw, his mother (the "Marion Oliver" of McCaw Hall), and three brothers rebuilt the family cable company, eventually branching out into telecommunications. McCaw Cellular eventually sold to AT&T in 1994 for $12.6 billion.

Orion Hindawi

$2 billion

This Tanium CEO and cofounder made a personal pandemic move to Seattle from the Bay Area, but eventually brought the entire $9 billion cybersecurity company his father founded along with him.

David Hindawi

$1.8 billion

The elder Hindawi lived in California, where he founded two other companies before starting Tanium, since he emigrated from Iraq in 1970. His son Orion’s move to Washington in 2020 prompted his uprooting.

Martin Selig

$1.4 billion

Holocaust survivor and Trump presidential backer, Selig amassed his fortune developing property, the most prominent of which is Columbia Center. Most of his real estate listings are in the downtown core and range from office buildings to extravagant apartments.

Bruce Nordstrom

$1 billion

The grandson of department store founder John W. Nordstrom, the younger Nordstrom served two stints as co-chairman of the family business. He retired for good in 2006, leaving his sons to run things.

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