Oprah Winfrey

Bill Gates was the co-founder (with schoolmate friend, Paul Allen) of Microsoft, which they grew to become the world’s largest software company. From their youth, they had been a formidable combination in terms of both software and business acumen. Aged just 15, they produced a programme to monitor traffic in Seattle which netted them $20,000.

Microsoft was launched in November 1976 after Gates had dropped out of Harvard.

In 2000, aged only 45, Gates stepped down as CEO of Microsoft to dedicate his time to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which the husband and wife team had set up to tackle global poverty and develop world-wide health care.  By 2006, they were estimated to have given away 30 billion US dollars, some 35% of their fortune at the time.