The World’s Six Richest Women In Tech 2017
Of the world’s wealthiest 100 tech entrepreneurs, only six women, all self-made, have managed to shatter the $2.6 billion glass ceiling and place on the 2017 Forbes list of the 100 Richest In Tech. Three are Chinese, all of whom count tech giant Apple as a customer of their manufacturing empires. One of the two Americans was rumored to take over as Uber’s next chief executive. The lone European, meanwhile, makes her billions by capitalizing on one of mankind’s great vices: gambling. Still, that is one more than a year ago.
The group’s collective worth is an estimated $27.6 billion. Their average net worth is $4.6 billion, which is half the average of the entire list at $8.7 billion but $1 billion more than last year’s female average.
The sole newcomer of the group is Wang Laichun, chairman of electronics manufacturer Luxshare Precision Industry. A supplier of electronic connectors, its products for Apple include the headphone jack adapters for the latest iPhone. Since the start of the year, Luxshare’s shares have rallied over 60%, pushing her net worth to an estimated $2.6 billion, good enough to grab one of the last spots on the list. She learned from one of the best, having spent 10 years at No. 23 Terry Gou’s Hon Hai Precision Industry (or Foxconn), the biggest electronics contract manufacturer in the world and a big Apple supplier. She left in 1999 and bought Luxshare in 2004 with her brother, who is the vice chairman of the company.
Last year’s newcomer, Hong Kong-based Lam Wai Ying, made her $5.2 billion fortune by producing a different electronic component: touch screens. She and her husband, Yeung Kin-man, own Biel Crystal, a company that employs 120,000 people on the mainland. They started off producing watch crystals until Yeung found that his plastic cell phone screen scratched too easily and began making glass screens. Aside from Apple, Biel Crystal also supplies Samsung and Sony with screens. Lam is chairwoman and owns 49% of the company. Her husband owns the rest.
Rounding off the three female supply chain tech magnates is Zhou Qunfei. Consistently the richest woman in the history of this list with an estimated net worth of $10 billion, she is also the richest self-made woman in the world. Born in a rural village in the Hunan Province of central China, she went from working on the glass-making factory floor to building Lens Technology, a multibillion dollar electronics empire. Lens Technology listed in the Shenzhen Stock Exchange in March 2015. Full Coverage: The Richest In Tech 2017 On the other side of the world, U.K.-born Denise Coates rolled the dice on an online gambling firm, bet365. Coates bought the domain bet365.com in 2000 after noticing the success of online gambling while working in her father’s betting shops as an accountant. The site now facilitates $45 billion in bets and brings in $2 billion in revenues. The company also owns a majority stake in the Stoke City Football Club, the oldest professional team in the Premier League. Coates is the only returning female tech entrepreneur whose $3.6 billion net worth dropped, from $3.8 billion last year.
The remaining two female billionaires are stateside, with one headquartered in the Midwest and the other in Silicon Valley. Judy Faulkner of healthcare software provider Epic founded her company in 1979 in a Wisconsin basement. A computer programmer by training, she made her $3.4 billion dollar fortune by creating medical records software that supports over half the American population. In 2015 she signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate 99% of her wealth to philanthropy in her lifetime.
Serial tech executive Meg Whitman, with an estimated net worth of $2.8 billion, is best known for her 10-year reign as CEO at eBay where she grew the online auctioning platform from $5.7 million to $8 billion in sales. She took over as CEO of Hewlett Packard in 2011 and oversaw the split of Hewlett Packard Enterprise in 2014; she has led HPE as its CEO since that split. In 2010 she spent a reported $140 million of her own personal funds on a failed Republican campaign for Governor of California. More recently, she was rumored to be a possible successor in replacing Travis Kalanick as the CEO of mega-unicorn Uber. Her response: “Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman.”
Zhou Qunfei, the founder of Lens Technology and the world’s richest self-made woman, in Changsha, China