One long-standing commitment at Forbes is to question conventional wisdom. Whatever the popular notions, Forbes endeavors to give them a thorough reality check. This attitude is the thread that ties together the three lists in this month’s issue: Asia’s Power Businesswomen, China’s 100 Richest and the Forbes 400.
Let’s start with the last first. Back in 1982, Forbes published its first 400 list. Many said it couldn’t be done—how could anyone estimate the fortunes of private individuals? Yet this list is still going strong as the definitive ranking of America’s wealthiest persons. This year is no different. One highlight is the feature on Sam Bankman-Fried, who at 29 has amassed a fortune estimated at $22.5 billion—the richest self-made newcomer in Forbes 400 history.
Then there’s Asia’s Power Businesswomen list. The inspirational roots for this list can be traced to the very first issue of Forbes in 1917. Its cover announced a feature on “Women in Business.” This was a bold and progressive idea at the time, hardly the prevailing view. While attitudes have come a long way since, there is still much to do. Our latest list underscores that successful results are gender-neutral, no matter what industry.
Next up is China’s 100 Richest. The first list was published in 1999, which was, as we said at the time, “to the best of our knowledge, the first serious attempt to identify the most successful players in China’s rapidly growing private economy.” As with the Forbes 400, the China list has become a benchmark for ranking the country’s wealthiest. In 1999, it was not a widely held assumption that so many of China’s citizens would rise so rapidly in net worth. In 1999, Rong Yiren topped the list with a $1 billion fortune. Bottled water tycoon Zhong Shanshan, worth $65.9 billion, now holds that spot.
For the cover story, Anthony Tan of Grab is a tale of someone who didn’t follow expectations. Many figured he would join the family’s Tan Chong Motor. Instead, he chose his own entrepreneurial path to build a regional superapp company.
The legendary editor of Forbes, the late James Michaels, once asked: “Who needs us if we are doing what everyone else is doing?” This iconoclastic attitude holds true today. Let others follow the crowd, Forbes looks for the path less travelled, which makes all the difference.
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