In post-recession America, Houston is one of the few success stories. We were one of the first cities to gain back all of the jobs – and then some – that we lost during the recession. Companies like Houston because we don’t have zoning laws, and the rest of our laws are very friendly toward business. And with no state income tax to speak of, Houston is a pretty nice place to live and work, too.
It should come as no surprise then that 15 Houston residents made Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world. But who are they, and how did they make their money?
#1268 Daniel Harrison III, worth $1.1B
The grandson of oilman Dan Harrison may have inherited most of his wealth, but he still knows how to make moves of his own. He leased 100,000 acres to Shell Oil Co. for close to $1B in 2010, which is already turning out to be a smart move for Mr. Harrison III and Shell Oil Co.
#1175 Kenneth “Bud” Adams Jr, worth $1.2B
Before he became the owner of the Tennessee Titans, Bud Adams Jr. founded Adams Resources and Energy Inc. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the American Football League. He passed away in October 2013.
#1031 Fayez Sarofim, $1.4B
Founder of investment firm Fayez Sarofim & Co, which manages around $30B in assets. He’s part owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans. He gives generously to Houston’s artistic and cultural institutions. He father held a number of cotton estates throughout North Africa during the 19th century.
#974 Joe Jamail Jr, worth $1.5B
Most billionaires start and then scale successful companies. Joe Jamail simply practiced law. He represented Pennzoil in a case against Texaco and pocketed $335M back in 1986. He’s known around town, the nation, and the world as “The King of Torts.”
#882 Thomas Friedkin, worth $1.7B
Although he technically dropped off of the list after transferring his assets to his son, Dan, the founder of Gulf States Toyota deserves a mention. Gulf States Toyota is the largest privately held company in Houston.
#882 Tilman Fertitta, worth $1.7B
CEO of Landry’s Inc, a holding company that specializes in restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality businesses. According to Forbes, he’s the world’s richest restaurateur.
#831 Robert McNair, worth $1.8B
The owner of the Houston Texans is, no surprise here, a big-shot energy mogul. He sold Cogen Technologies to Enron and CalPERS in 1999. He was instrumental in the formation of the Houston Texans in 1999.
#736 George Mitchell, worth $2B
Yet another successful Houston real estate developer and energy industry veteran. Mr. Mitchell is often credited with pioneering the processes that made shale gas extraction economically feasible.
#687 Dan Friedkin, worth $2.5B
Thomas’ son took control of his assets last year, making him one of Houston’s wealthiest business people, with a net worth over $2B.
#503 John Arnold, worth $2.8B
Houston is where finance and energy meet, and companies lose and win fortunes based on how well they move money and oil around. John Arnold is one of the youngest to appear on Forbes’ list, at the ripe old age of 38. He’s a former hedge fund manager in the energy sector.
#446 George Bishop, worth $3.5B
Mr. Bishop is new to the list this year. He’s the founder of GeoSouthern Energy, which did a deal with Devon Energy for $6B last year. He stands to take home around $4B from the deal. Devon Energy stands to profit enormously from its acquisition of one of the most productive oilfields in the state.
#239 Dan Duncan heirs, worth $5.1B
Famous oilman Dan Duncan’s kids share the #239 spot. Their names in no particular order: Dannine Avarara, Scott Duncan, Milana Frantz and Randa Williams.
#219 Jeffrey Hildebrand, worth $5.5B
Yet another energy industry billionaire. He’s extremely active in the energy industry. He also donates heavily to arts and culture in Houston.
#112 Richard Kinder, worth $9.8B (#1 in Houston)
If you had nothing to go by but his last name, you’d guess he was the CEO of Kinder Morgan Inc. And he is. He was friends with Kenneth lay, the disgraced Enron CEO, in college. Kinder Morgan is one of the largest energy companies in the United States.
Many of Houston’s billionaires made their fortunes on their own terms, as wildcat well-drillers and hard-charging entrepreneurs. In a place as full of possibility as Houston, it’s anyone’s guess who the next crop of billionaires will be.