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Tuesday, Dec 6, 2022
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OC’s Wealthiest: Billion-Dollar Club

The pandemic, it’s been said, created winners and losers in the business world.

This week’s listing of OC’s Wealthiest reads very much as a directory of winners.

The 37 entries in this edition of OC’s Wealthiest—the 21st year we’ve highlighted the richest of the rich living and working in Orange County—have a net worth totaling $160 billion.

That’s an increase of more than 40% from last year’s compilation. It is, by far, an all-time high for our listing.

Every entry on the list is believed to have seen their fortunes increase over the past year. Ten entries saw their net worth increase by more than $1 billion.

For repeat entries on the list, the average net worth increased some 25% year-over-year, which suggests we might be conservative for the latest values for many on the list. The S&P 500 is up about 35% year-over-year.

Other preferred assets classes of the wealthy also are outperforming the market; apartments, the primary investment for many real estate owners on the list, have never been as valuable as they are now.

$1 Billion Threshold

The $160 billion cumulative figure—approximately the GDP of Qatar, the world’s 54th largest economy—comes despite a shorter listing this year.

We’ve significantly increased the baseline figure to make the list to $1 billion, from $600 million a year ago. Last year’s list had 47 entries.

Two area execs were boosted into the billionaire category for the latest edition: William Wang, whose TV powerhouse Vizio (NYSE:VZIO) went public in March, and Gary Jabara, whose wireless infrastructure firm Mobilitie is being sold for what sources indicate is nearly $1.7 billion.

Four entries vaulted from billionaire to multibillionaire status this go around, including the founders for two of the area’s closest watched companies, Rivian Automotive’s RJ Scaringe and Anduril IndustriesPalmer Luckey.

Electric vehicle maker exec Scaringe’s $3.5 billion boost in estimated wealth is the largest increase for any repeat entry on this week’s list.

Weekend Wealthy

As was the case last year, the list includes a handful of business execs who have their primary residences out of town, but own notable properties along the coast of OC.

Our logic for their inclusion: If someone with enough wealth to make the list spends $25 million or more on a home (or homes) here, it’s safe to say they spend a fair amount of time in the area and didn’t buy the homes as rental investments.

Notable additions this year include auto dealership tycoon Ernest Garcia II, whose $18.5 billion estimate places him atop the list. Garcia, reported to be Arizona’s wealthiest resident, is said to have a secondary home in Newport Coast.

Hasso Plattner, founder of German software giant SAP, is also a new Weekend Wealthy inclusion. Plattner and Garcia, along the Irvine Co.’s Donald Bren, and NantWork’s Patrick Soon-Shiong, comprise a quartet of execs on the list with estimated fortunes topping $10 billion.

Individual entries for those on the list are included in our OC’s Wealthiest Special Report, which begins on page 21. Additional stories on those execs and their businesses are found throughout this edition. 

OC ’s WEALTHIEST Criteria

Our goal is to give readers accurate, impartial, and verifiable estimates of wealth for those on our list.

While determining wealth is admittedly as much an art as it is a science, we feel comfortable with the inclusion of every entry in this edition and have gone above and beyond to provide readers with solid reasoning behind each entry, and their estimates.

We’ve spent months looking into each entry’s holdings, company assets, public records and press clippings.

We’ve spoken with numerous trusted sources—including wealth managers, knowledgeable real estate owners and heads of family offices, among others—to get insight into investment trends, asset allocation, tax implications, philanthropic efforts and other factors that determine our estimates.

Impartial, third-party experts are used to verify our estimates.

Some individuals on our list cooperated with us to provide guidance for our estimates. Others declined. A few have told us they would prefer not to be on the list at all.

As always, our listing comes with caveats. Like Forbes, Bloomberg and other similar listings, our numbers are conservative, ballpark figures. We’ve done our best to catalog assets, but only the people on our listing know their true value.

Nor is our listing all-inclusive. We’ve done our best to track down those who we believe are OC’s wealthiest people. We are sure to have missed people and we look forward to your comments.

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Mark Mueller
Mark Mueller
Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of the Orange County Business Journal, one of the premier regional business newspapers in the country. He’s the fifth person to hold the editor’s position in the paper’s long history. He oversees a staff of about 15 people. The OCBJ is considered a must-read for area business executives. The print edition of the paper is the primary source of local news for most of the Business Journal’s subscribers, which includes most of OC’s major corporate and community players. Mark’s been with the paper since 2005, and long served as the real estate reporter for the paper, breaking hundreds of commercial and residential real estate stories. He took on the editor’s position in 2018.
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