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Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

Alice Walton - Photo by Stephen Ironside courtesy of CC BY 4.0

By Britteny Dee

May 28, 2024

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the bank accounts — at least for the more than 70 billionaires living in the Lone Star State

From famous faces like Elon Musk (by far the richest Texas resident) and Mark Cuban to IT experts and grocery store gurus, the members of Texas’ three comma club are as varied as they are wealthy.

An increasing number of the billionaires residing in Texas are self-made, but there are still plenty who inherited their wealth too. Keep reading to learn more about some of Texas’ most interesting billionaires and how they made fortunes. 

John Paul DeJoria

Residence: Austin

Net worth: $3 billion

Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

Photo courtesy of PLH Foundation via Instagram

John Paul DeJoria, a first-generation American who grew up in an immigrant community in downtown Los Angeles, experienced a rags-to-riches-style rise to fame. In 1980, when DeJoria was sleeping in his car and selling shampoo and encyclopedias door-to-door, he teamed up with hairstylist Paul Mitchell to launch John Paul Mitchell Systems. He turned a $700 loan into a globally recognized hair care brand with billion-dollar annual revenues. DeJoria told Forbes that starting John Paul Mitchell Systems was “the greatest thing I ever did in my life.”

In 1989, the self-made entrepreneur co-founded another business — Patrón Spirits. The premium tequila brand was acquired by Bacardi Limited in 2018 for $5.1 billion. DeJoria also appeared on an Emmy-winning episode of “Shark Tank” during which he invested $150,000 for 20 percent of a Florida irrigation company called Tree T-PEE. 

Giving back has always been important to DeJoria, and he supports a wide variety of charities, including the anti-poaching group Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Grow Appalachia, an organization that helps families in central Appalachia grow their own food to improve food security. Additionally, in 2011, DeJoria signed Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s The Giving Pledge, promising to donate half of his earnings to philanthropic causes.

Hayes Barnard

Residence: Austin

Net worth: $3.7 billion

Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

Photo by Kevin Meynell courtesy of CC BY-SA 4.0

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for software salesman-turned-serial entrepreneur Hayes Barnard. Overcoming a learning disability and an absent father — two things Barnard attributes his entrepreneurial drive to — he went on to become an Oracle executive, dabble in the mortgage lending business, and act as an executive at SolarCity before it was purchased by Tesla in 2016.

Barnard is currently the founder, chairman, and CEO of GoodLeap, a fin-tech company that helps homeowners make climate-friendly upgrades to their homes, such as installing solar panels and energy-efficient windows. In a 2021 funding round, GoodLeap was valued at $12 billion and raised $800 million. 

Barnard also founded GivePower, a non-profit that helps people in underserved communities get access to clean water and energy. 

Thai Lee

Residence: Austin

Net worth: $6.8 billion

Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

Photo courtesy of SHI International via X

The majority of the world’s billionaires might be male, but Texas is home to several ultra-wealthy women too. One of them is Thai Lee, the CEO of the largest female- and minority-owned business in the U.S. 

Lee, a Thai-born Korean American, decided to study business because her English wasn’t strong and she wanted to avoid speaking and writing in class. She became the first Korean woman to graduate from Harvard Business School and went on to work at companies like Procter & Gamble and American Express. Then, in 1989, she and her now ex-husband purchased Software House, a struggling software sales company, which she later renamed SHI International. SHI International now has about 15,000 customers, including major brands like Boeing and AT&T.

Bert Beveridge 

Residence: Austin

Net worth: $6.1 billion

If a Tito’s and soda is your go-to order at the bar, you might be familiar with the name Bert Beveridge. Beveridge founded Tito’s Handmade Vodka in 1997 with $90,000 he borrowed using 19 different credit cards.

The now-hugely-popular spirits brand wasn’t an immediate success — Beveridge slept on couches while building it — but in 2001, Tito’s beat out 72 vodka brands from across the world and won the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. In 2022, the company sold 11.5 million cases of vodka and was the leading vodka brand in the U.S. 

Prior to founding Tito’s, Beveridge, a geology and geophysics major, worked in oil and gas as well as mortgage trading.  

Joe Gebbia

Residence: Austin

Net worth: $8.7 billion

Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

Photo courtesy of Joe Gebbia via Instagram

Joe Gebbia started his professional life as an artist, but it was the business he co-founded out of a necessity to pay rent that made him billions. Gebbia co-founded home rental company Airbnb in 2008 with Brian Chesky, who he met while studying at Rhode Island School of Design, and Nathan Blecharczyk. 

Gebbia stepped back from his day-to-day role at Airbnb in 2022 but still owns a nine percent stake in the company and chairs its non-profit arm, Airbnb.org. Gebbia’s latest venture is Airbnb spinout Samara, a privately funded start-up that produces sustainable accessory dwelling units.  

Steven Udvar-Hazy

Residence: Westlake

Net worth: $4.2 billion

Steven Udvar-Hazy immigrated from Hungary to New York as a child, and at 14 years old, he got a job packing boxes in a Manhattan warehouse for 30 cents an hour. In his 20s, Udvar-Hazy launched his own airline but later realized he could make more money buying planes and then leasing them to other airlines.

When he launched the International Lease Finance Corp in 1973, Udvar-Hazy essentially created the airplane leasing industry. He sold that company in 1990 for $1.3 billion and formed another, Air Lease Corp., in 2010. Udvar-Hazy remains chairman of Air Lease.

Ken Fisher

Residence: Dallas

Net worth: $8.9 billion

Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

Photo courtesy of Ken Fisher via Facebook

Ken Fisher took $250 and turned it into an investment firm with roughly $265 billion under management. Fisher launched Fisher Investments in his basement in 1979 and now serves as the company’s executive chairman and co-chief investment officer. 

Fisher is a highly regarded investment expert and regularly shares his industry analysis and advice with publications like the Financial Times and USA Today. He’s also authored 11 books, several of which are best-sellers.

Charles Butt

Residence: San Antonio

Net worth: 7.6 billion

Charles Butt started bagging groceries at H-E-B, the grocery chain his grandmother founded, when he was eight years old. Decades later, in 1971, Butt became chairman and CEO of the Texas-based business, which boasts about $39 billion in revenues. While he stepped down from his role as CEO in 2021 (his nephew Howard Butt III took over), Butt remains chairman of H-E-B.  

With more than 150,000 employees, the supermarket chain is one of the largest private employers in the Lone Star State. 

Ann Walton-Kroenke

Residence: Electra

Net worth: 10.5 billion

Ann Walton-Kroenke is an heiress to the Walmart fortune. Walton-Kroenke is the daughter of Bud Walton, who co-founded Walmart with his brother Sam, and she inherited part of Bud’s stake in the retail giant when he died in 1995.

Walton-Kroenke is married to sports mogul and fellow billionaire Stan Kroenke, who owns the Los Angeles Rams and the U.K.’s Arsenal soccer club. Walton-Kroenke owns a few athletic teams as well, including the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche. 

Alice Walton

Residence: Fort Worth

Net worth: 77.2 billion

Speaking of Walmart, we can’t write about heiresses to the retail behemoth’s wealth without mentioning Alice Walton. She’s the daughter of Sam Walton, but only briefly worked at Walmart as a fashion buyer after college.

Instead of continuing to work for the family business, Walton worked as a money manager and founded an investment bank in 1988. Walton is also an art enthusiast, and in 2011, she opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Three comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionairesThree comma club: Meet 10 of Texas’ 73 billionaires

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