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 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

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