Estimated worth: $15 billion
Orange County’s wealthiest person has been putting a fair amount of his fortune back into his business over the past year—but we’re figuring that he’s still likely to have seen a boost to his bottom line of about $1 billion.
The Business Journal estimates Bren, chairman of Newport Beach-based Irvine Company, to be worth $15 billion this year, up from $14 billion a year ago.
That comes with our perennial caveat: We believe our estimate for Bren is conservative.
The $1 billion increase for the country’s wealthiest real estate owner reflects the improving market in the coastal areas of California, particularly in Silicon Valley and Orange County, the Irvine Co.’s largest markets.
The developer’s real estate portfolio totals close to 100 million square feet, including nearly 500 offices, more than 40 retail centers, 130 apartment communities with nearly 50,000 units, five marinas, three golf clubs and three resorts.
The company is the largest owner of offices in California and is one of the largest owners of apartments in the state. Along with OC and Silicon Valley, the company has sizable holdings in San Diego and Los Angeles. It also has a growing presence as an office owner in Chicago, its only known market outside California.
The company’s holdings in OC include large parts of the 5,000-acre Irvine Spectrum, Fashion Island, Newport Center, half of 185-acre University Research Park in Irvine, Jamboree Center, MacArthur Court, and the Resort at Pelican Hill (see related story on OC resorts, page 1).
Rental income from the company’s growing apartment portfolio—thousands of new units are under construction across the state—is now believed to be Irvine Co.’s largest source of revenue.
The Business Journal estimates that privately held Irvine Co. had about $2.5 billion in revenue last year. 2013 was the company’s best-performing year in the past seven years, according to company sources.
The company also is estimated to own 27,000 acres of land in OC, about half of which probably is developable. The land could accommodate close to 20,000 lots for homes after taking streets, parks and other uses into account.
There’s no doubt that the value of that land has increased over the past year. The Irvine Ranch has been the state’s best-selling masterplanned home community for several years running, and with the opening of the high-end Orchard Hills community this spring, that isn’t likely to change any time soon.
Irvine Co.’s local land holdings are debt-free, and the company is now earning hundreds of millions of dollars annually as homebuilders buy the company’s in-demand lots, or homebuyers purchase homes directly from the company’s in-house builder, Irvine Pacific.
Bren has made the company’s portfolio—and its balance sheet—the envy of the real estate industry. Sources peg Irvine Co.’s debt level at about 40% or less of the company’s entire portfolio, on the low side for the industry.
Irvine Co. has an “A” credit rating and stable outlook from Fitch Ratings Inc., so when the company does borrow, it’s able to do so at rock-bottom rates.
The company has been taking on more debt lately. Its latest blockbuster purchase—a 60-story skyscraper in Chicago purchased last month for $850 million—was financed in part with a $475 million loan.
Bren has also been placing debt on some area office and retail properties that were previously debt-free, according to real estate sources and public documents.
Those financing deals have freed up cash for acquisitions, as well as new development and other big investments in the company.
The heavy amount of investment on new projects—for housing projects such as Orchard Hills; office developments such as the 520 Newport Center Drive office tower; and office campuses moving ahead in Silicon Valley—easily runs several hundred million dollars and isn’t likely to pay immediate dividends for Bren. That’s one reason our latest estimate for him isn’t even higher this year.
Our $15 billion estimate falls just short of the $15.1 billion value placed on Bren’s fortune by Bloomberg, and further short of the $15.9 billion currently assigned to him by Forbes.
Forbes ranks Bren as the 27th richest person in the U.S. He’s also the wealthiest person in Southern California, according to the magazine’s annual list of billionaires.
Bren got his start as a homebuilder in 1958. In 1977, he was part of a group that acquired control of Irvine Co., the successor to the
massive ranch bought by James Irvine in
Bren bought out many of his partners for $518 million in 1983. In 1991, he paid
$256 million to heiresses Joan Irvine Smith and her mother, Athalie Clarke, for their shares.
Bren became Irvine Co.’s sole owner in 1996.
Bloomberg Businessweek magazine ranks Bren as one of the nation’s most generous philanthropists, estimating his lifetime giving at more than $1.3 billion.
More than $265 million of that giving has been for education. He’s directed more than $70 million to the University of California-Irvine, among other schools.
Bren has also set aside 50,000-plus acres of land—more than half of the 93,000-acre Irvine Ranch—as open space and parklands in perpetuity. The lands are formally designated as Natural Landmarks by the U.S. Department of the Interior and the state of California.
Owner, founder, president
Olen Properties Corp.
Estimated worth: $3.2 billion
The real estate market is booming again, which is great news for Olenicoff, the second largest commercial property owner in Orange County.
We’ve increased our estimates for Olenicoff by $200 million this year, the highest yet for this longtime presence on our list of wealthiest residents.
Forbes has increased its estimate of Olenicoff by $700 million over the past year, also pegging the self-made billionaire at an estimated $3.2 billion, good for No. 184 nationally.
We believe our updated $3.2 billion estimate remains on the conservative side, based on sources familiar with Olenicoff and his wealth. We estimate his real estate portfolio to be in excess of $4 billion, with a debt level that’s said to be well below most large property owners.
Olen Properties Corp. owns more than 7.5 million square feet of office and industrial space, much of it in Orange County. The company is believed to be the biggest office landlord here besides Newport Beach-based Irvine Company.
A large portion of Olen’s office portfolio is made up of low- and midrise business parks. It also owns a skyscraper in Chicago and has a pair of office towers in Irvine. It holds loans tied to other office towers around John Wayne Airport and has lent money for office and hotel projects in Los Angeles and Chicago.
Deals in the past year include the $73.5 million cash buy of the 16-building Irvine Oaks Executive Park in the Irvine Spectrum.
Olen also owns more than 10,000 apartments, primarily in Las Vegas and Florida, with another 500 or so in OC and Arizona. Many of those have been debt-free for years.
Other Olen assets include marinas, land, restaurants, airport hangars and a golf course. The square footage of Olen’s total commercial real estate portfolio runs close to 20 million square feet, including apartments.
Olenicoff noted that while real estate prices are now back to pre-crash, 2007 levels, occupancy rates are now higher than they were then, particularly for apartments in the company’s core markets.
Real estate isn’t only one source of wealth for Olenicoff. Others include stocks, the various loans he’s made, and cash holdings, according to sources.
Word has it he was an especially aggressive bargain hunter of stocks during the recession
and remains an active—and profitable—day trader.
Olenicoff made his fortune after his family fled Soviet Moscow and came to America, by way of Iran, in 1957. He started Olen in 1973.
He’s been grooming his daughter, Natalia Ostensen, to take over the company (see OC Style File, page 92).
Cofounder, chief operating officer
Kingston Technology Co.
Estimated worth: $3.1 billion
Kingston Technology Co.
Estimated worth: $3.1 billion
Sun and Tu have steered the world’s largest memory products maker for computers and consumer electronics into the audio accessories business, a first for the 27-year-old company.
Kingston this year released a high-fidelity sound, memory-foam, ear-cushioned headset with a detachable microphone for $99, targeting a loyal legion of gaming customers who have come to know the company largely through its tournament sponsorships.
The company is best known to most consumers for its ubiquitous USB drives and flash cards sold through online retailers, which represent the bulk of its $5.4 billion in annual revenue.
Kingston has paid close attention to the video gaming industry for more than a decade. It introduced its first line of HyperX memory products geared for gamers, computer enthusiasts and system builders in 2002.
Its products improve computer performance, thereby improving game play.
The ownership duo continued their investment strategy and business model of shoring up key memory-components suppliers with a $31 million deal in June that doubled the company’s 1.5% stake in Taiwan-based chipmaker Phison Electronics Corp. in a hedge against rising component prices.
The company is one of the world’s largest suppliers of NAND flash, the primary storage component in solid-state drives that’s also used in cameras, memory cards, laptops, and other products.
We’ve pegged them at $3.1 billion each this year, up from $2.9 billion a year ago. Our estimate is based on a robust run for stocks and other asset classes over the past 12 months, and a strong year from Kingston, where revenue tops $5 billion a year and comparisons to publicly traded rivals point to a strong run over the past 12 months.
Sun and Tu are estimated to own the vast majority of the company, and also have other investments.
Both men are on their second fortunes. They founded memory products maker Camintonn in the 1980s and sold it to former Irvine computer maker AST Research Inc.
They left AST to start Kingston after losing millions in Camintonn proceeds in the 1987 stock market crash.
Tu, originally from China, moved to the U.S. in 1972. He once worked as a cook in his uncle’s Chinese restaurant and as an apprentice welder while living in Germany as a young man.
Sun, who was born in Taiwan, came to the U.S. in 1977.
Tu is a music devotee who has local musicians in gigs with his band, JT & California Dreamin’, which plays benefits.
Cofounder, chief investment officer
Pacific Investment Management Co.
Estimated worth: $2.4 billion
Gross has changed his title since last year’s OC’s Wealthiest report. He no longer shares his chief investment officer post with just one other person; instead, he has six deputy CIOs reporting to him. Pimco’s leadership changes came after the much-publicized departure of former co-CIO and Chief Executive Mohamed El-Erian in the spring.
The dust-up over El-Erian’s resignation and Gross’ management style also came with critical assessments of a rough patch that carried over from last year and into the earlier part of 2014. Gross’ Total Return Fund—Pimco’s flagship product—saw withdrawals for 14 straight months and generally underperformed the benchmark.
We’ve increased our estimate of Gross’ personal net worth by about 10%, assuming he’s a shrewd steward of fortune, and taking into consideration the strong run for equities, which are up about 20%, and other asset classes in the past year.
And Gross seems to be getting some of his steam back with Total Return. The fund, which has about $225 billion in assets, is up 0.3% for the past month, better than the 0.27% return on the benchmark. It’s also in the top 18% or so of the 1,000-plus intermediate bond funds in the U.S. when considering its three-month returns of 1.82%. It’s lower on the ranks—still behind 74% of peers—based on its year-to-date performance.
Pimco overall is looking better these days—a reminder that it’s got more than the Total Return going for it. It grew its total assets under management by $30 billion between April and June to $1.97 trillion.
Gross and his wife, Sue, have long been big philanthropists in Orange County and beyond.
Their names are on a stem cell research center at the University of California-Irvine, and the Women’s Pavilion at Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach.
More recent gifts include $1.5 million to the Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science—the school’s largest individual contribution since it opened in Los Angeles in 2010.
The couple also established the Sue and Bill Gross Scholars Program with a $240,000 gift to Saddleback College in their one-time hometown of Mission Viejo.
Founder, chief executive
Red Digital Cinema Camera Co.
Estimated worth: $2.4 billion
Jannard has been quiet over the past year since he stepped out of the limelight and handed day-to-day leadership duties of his Irvine-based Red Digital Cinema Camera Co. to President Jarred Land.
Red continues to grow as it pushes 4K resolution as the industry standard for Hollywood’s cinema scene and beyond. The company makes and sells digital still and motion cameras that have been used to shoot films such as “The Great Gatsby,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “The Amazing Spider-Man,” and “Exodus.”
It claims A-list directors James Cameron, Michael Bay, and Ridley Scott, among others, as “Red Heads.”
Red’s latest release, the Scarlet-X Red Dragon camera, can “capture motion video and still images at 6K resolution from 1-12 frames per second, or up to 60 frames per second at 5K,” making it a “perfect camera for cinematographers and photographers alike.”
Red’s sales are conservatively estimated at more than $300 million. Much of its workforce of 500 is engaged in manufacturing at its headquarters in the Irvine Spectrum. Others are spread over the Red Studios facility in Hollywood and other locations.
We’re estimating his wealth at $2.4 billion, up $400 million from a year earlier, crediting him for likely gains on Red’s increased value and acknowledging his reputation as an especially savvy investor. Some reports have pegged him as a serial buyer of luxury homes in the Los Angeles area lately, with deals in neighborhoods such as the upscale Holmby Hills. We figure that’s about a wash, given the recent cooling off of the Southern California housing market at the luxury level in recent months.
Our estimate has resumed an upward climb over the past two years, a shift that followed a big trim in 2012 based on his disclosure that he had donated a large portion of his money in an effort to divest his wealth. He declined to name the beneficiaries.
The basis of Jannard’s wealth traces back to the $2.1 billion sale of Foothill Ranch-based Oakley Inc.—the other company he started—in 2007 to Italy-based Luxottica Group SPA. He had a 64% stake in Oakley at the time of its sale and continues to hold the chief mad scientist and visionary title there.
It’s tough to pin down the value of privately held Red, but indicators point to a rising value for the enterprise, which could render our estimate on Jannard’s net worth quite conservative.
Jannard, a USC dropout, is married, has four children, and 14 grandchildren.
Cofounder, chairman, chief technical officer
Estimated worth: $2.4 billion
Broadcom’s chief technologist is moving the chipmaker into new markets as the company eyes the possible development of a new campus at Great Park Neighborhoods in Irvine.
Samsung and Apple are the company’s largest customers, and it is making aggressive moves into wearable electronics, 4K ultra-high definition resolution, and the “Internet of Things” segments, a booming technological market that powers communication among electronic devices, appliances and sensors, among other products.
Broadcom recently gave up on its baseband business. The line of chips, essentially the technical brains of mobile phones, never fully materialized after the company spent hundreds of millions of dollars on research and development and acquisitions over the years to become the clear-cut contender behind San Diego-based rival Qualcomm Corp. in the lucrative niche.
We estimate Samueli’s wealth is up $200 million from last year to $2.4 billion. The past 12 months have seen strong gains for stocks and other asset classes. Samueli’s 24 million or so Broadcom shares—which account for less than half his wealth by our estimate—are up 36% over the same period.
Samueli has sold more than $1.4 billion in shares since the company went public in 1998, including about $6.8 million worth in the past year or so.
He paid $70 million for the Anaheim Ducks in 2005, and Forbes’ now values the hockey franchise at more than $180 million. It generates an estimated $25 million in ticket sales per season to go with revenue from TV and radio rights, merchandise and other sources. They are generally thought to break even during good years and lose money during bad ones. The team was knocked out of the second round of the playoffs against the eventual Stanley Cup winner, the LA Kings, missing out on added concession and broadcast revenue.
He also owns Anaheim Arena Management LLC, which operates the city-owned Honda Center, the Ducks’ home ice.
Honda Center, which opened a new entry plaza and outdoor lounge in October dubbed Grand Terrace, is estimated to do about $50 million a year in ticket and concession sales, including concerts and other events.
Samueli and his wife, Susan, also own part of KDOC-TV in Anaheim, which broadcasts Ducks games that aren’t scheduled by cable channel Fox Sports West.
The couple have given away more than $250 million in the past decade and is among the county’s top philanthropists. University of California-Irvine and University of California-Los Angeles both have named their engineering schools after Henry Samueli.
Chairman, chief executive
Arnel & Affiliates
Westar Capital LLC
Estimated worth: $2.1 billion
The rising tide seen in the real estate and stock markets provided another boost to Argyros’ bottom line last year.
We’ve estimated Argyros, one of OC’s richest real estate owners and most politically connected businessmen, at $2.1 billion this year.
That’s a $300 million increase from a year ago and a $1 billion bump from our 2011 estimate.
Argyros owns Costa Mesa-based Arnel & Affiliates, a development and investment company he started in 1968. Arnel has close to 5,500 apartments and some 2 million square feet of office, industrial and retail space in and around Orange County.
Conservatively factoring in debt, and figuring the likely boost to the value of his apartments and other local holdings over the past year, the Business Journal estimates Argyros’ wealth from real estate to be worth close to $1.1 billion.
Sales of Arnel-owned properties are a rarity, but one local shopping center partly owned by the company in La Habra was listed for sale this year. It remains to be seen if others will follow.
Argyros, the former owner of the Seattle Mariners baseball team and one-time partner of fellow OC’s Wealthiest member William Lyon in AirCal—also has a large stock portfolio, in addition to other investments.
That portfolio is changing.
He was long the largest individual investor in DST Systems Inc., a Kansas City, Mo.-based software company that has a $3.9 billion market value. Its shares are up some 30% from a year ago.
Argyros reached a deal early this year to sell about $650 million of DST stock, which will cut his stake in the company to about 7%.
DST is an early investment of Westar Capital LLC in Costa Mesa, Argyros’ investment firm.
Other investments include stakes in Santa Ana-based First American Financial Corp., as well as Pacific Mercantile Bancorp in Costa Mesa.
Argyros and his wife, Julia, remain active on the philanthropy front. His family’s foundation has given millions to Chapman University, the Alzheimer’s Association, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian, and numerous other local causes.
Henry T. Nicholas III
Cofounder, Broadcom Corp.
Estimated worth: $1.7 billion
Nicholas continued to add honors and accomplishments to his resume—chief among them the prestigious 2014 IEEE Frederik Philips Award for outstanding accomplishments in research and development that results in effective innovation in the electrical and electronics industry. He was specifically honored “for exemplary leadership and entrepreneurial vision in the commercialization of communication [chips] that enable broadband connectivity.”
That’s another step removed from his tenure at Broadcom, the company he cofounded and where he served as a visionary for 12 years.
He’s pursued other passions since parting ways with the chipmaker in 2003, and now is the primary owner and shareholder of Guerrilla Union Inc., which melds music, arts, culture and technology. The Pomona-based company hosts Rock the Bells, a hip-hop festival featuring dozens of acts that was responsible for the reunion of the Wu-Tang Clan and Rage Against the Machine.
His Aliso Viejo-based Level 7 Artists media company was behind Sublime’s 2009 reunion tour with lead singer Rome and developing Huntington Beach’s Dirty Heads, whose new album debuted at No. 8 last month on Billboard’s top 200.
Nicholas also works steadily on OC-based philanthropy. He founded the Nicholas Academic Centers in 2008 with retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jack Mandel to provide after school guidance, tutoring, mentoring, cultural enrichment and access to college recruiters for under-served, primarily Latino-American students in the Santa Ana Unified School District.
The organization has graduated 478 students, with a 100% rate for college attendance, since its inception. Nicholas’ efforts to strengthen crime victims’ rights have made significant strides in Illinois, the country’s fifth-most populous state.
Marsy’s Law, spearheaded by Nicholas, overwhelmingly passed the state’s Legislature in April and will be put to voters on the November ballot. The measure would strengthen constitutional rights regarding court hearing notifications, grant time to address the court on the impact of the crime, obtain hearings before court records are open, and appeal decisions that impact rights.
The law mirrors California’s crime Victim’s Bill of Rights: Marsy’s Law, named for and inspired by Nicholas’ sister Marsy, who was murdered in 1983.
Nicholas is sole trustee of the Nicholas Technology Holding Trust, which holds about 26.2 million Broadcom Corp. shares, with a recent market value of approximately $988 million. Nicholas for the past four years has not sold shares of Broadcom, which makes communication chips that go into smartphones, computers and consumer electronics. He has sold an estimated $1.2 billion in shares since the company went public in 1998.
We estimate his wealth at $1.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion a year ago, as Broadcom shares have risen about 36% over the past 12 months, and equities and other asset classes have had a strong run over the period.
Partner, Toba Capital
Partner, Integral Communities
Estimated worth: $1.5 billion
Smith is well on his way to making his third and fourth fortunes as his commercial real estate investments sizzle in a hot California market and his Irvine-based venture capital firm
Toba, which he launched in late 2012 after Dell Inc. acquired his Quest Software for $2.8 billion, has posted three exits from portfolio companies this year, while another went public.
San Francisco-based business intelligence provider Jaspersoft Corp. in April was acquired in a $185 million deal by Tibco Software Inc. in Palo Alto. The investment in the company, a leader in the open-source software-as-a-service market, dates back to 2011 under the Quest umbrella.
In February, bright.com was acquired by LinkedIn for $120 million, its largest acquisition to date. The San Francisco-based startup makes specialized software that analyzes resumes and job openings in seconds and matches them together for employers. That same month, IBM acquired Cloudant Inc. on undisclosed terms. The Boston database service provider “enables developers to easily and quickly create next generation mobile and web apps.”
MobileIron Inc., a late-stage investment in Mountain View that makes security software that protects data accessed by employees on smartphones, raised about $100 million in June.
Toba has quickly become the largest venture capital firm in OC, with more than $300 million in its investment portfolio and more than 30 investments.
Smith also has several real estate plays in the Bay Area as a personal investor and chief financial backer behind Newport Beach-based developer Integral Communities.
Integral has about 20 large-scale projects in the works and was expected to hit $500 million in revenue last year.
We estimate Smith’s wealth at $1.5 billion, up from $1.2 billion a year ago.
This takes into account his $800 million Quest cash-out, strong gains in the stock market in the last 12 months, income generated by Integral and other real estate deals, and the exits from his venture capital investments.
Smith started his career with Oracle in 1986 after graduating from the University of Delaware, where he wrestled. In 1992, he started San Francisco-based Patrol Software with an Oracle colleague. BMC Software Inc. bought Patrol in 1994 for an estimated $33.7 million.
Chairman, MIG Capital LLC
Estimated worth: $1.4 billion
Merage likely benefited from favorable market movements in the U.S. commercial real estate market, and the stock market here and globally, since his Merage Investment Group—MIG—touches on a broad range of asset classes through its affiliates.
They include MIG Real Estate, headed by nephew, Greg. MIG Real Estate focuses on commercial, hospitality, office and multifamily properties, including recently acquired apartment complexes in Colorado and Texas.
Other affiliates are MIG Capital, an SEC-registered investment adviser focused on public equity investments and managed by son, Richard; and MIG Private Equity, which makes private investments globally and is headed by Managing Director Doug Wolter.
Not much financial information is available for the individual MIG units, but they combine to account for more than $1 billion in assets under management.
We’ve upped our estimate for Merage by $200 million based on gains in the real estate and stock markets.
His fortune traces back to a frozen-food manufacturing venture that he and his brother, David, started in the 1970s in California. The brothers grew their Chef America Inc. into one of the largest food companies in the U.S., building on the strong brand of Hot Pockets. They moved Chef America to Colorado in 1994 and sold it in 2002 to Nestlé for $2.6 billion.
Shortly after the sale, Paul Merage moved to Orange County, which since then has seen the marks of his professional work and philanthropic giving.
In 2005, Merage gave $30 million to the University of California-Irvine’s business school, which now bears his name. The Paul & Elisabeth Merage Family Foundation gave about $1.6 million in 2012, the latest annual total available.
Merage, who came to the U.S. from Iran as a teenager in the early 1960s, supports Israeli entrepreneurs and promotes relationship-building between the U.S. and Israel through his Merage Institute. The organization runs various programs annually, such as its Innovation Bridge Business Leadership Program. It also holds competitions for entrepreneurs over the age of 45.
Arturo R. Moreno
Owner, Angels Baseball LP
Estimated worth: $1.4 billion
There’s a lot going right for Moreno, whose team is back among the elite in the big leagues in terms of performance. Attendance is up; a 20-year, $3 billion cable deal is still fairly fresh; and the $2 billion price tag pinned on the Los Angeles Clippers is raising the market for professional sports franchises.
We’ve boosted our estimate for Moreno this year by $300 million, a total that considers the 8% hike in value and $775 million price tag Forbes assigned the Angels—which he bought in 2003 for $184 million. The Forbes figure came before the Clippers deal fetched a $2 billion bid, which bodes well for Moreno’s chief asset—and we give him another boost based on the strong run for stocks and other asset classes over the past 12 months.
Moreno earned some pocket change when the University of California-Irvine paid $1.2 million to lease Angel Stadium for its graduation ceremonies earlier this year—the school needed the space after it landed President Barack Obama as its commencement speaker.
Meanwhile, there’s a chance that the stadium could be the basis for another big lift in the team’s value if Moreno gets the new lease terms he wants. Negotiations have grated some locals, but Moreno appears to be holding out for a pact that would give him rights to some commercial development on land that holds the parking lots around the ballpark—and his tough stance isn’t hurting attendance as long as the team is winning.
Credit Moreno for sharing the wealth—just last month he dug into his saddlebags to fill a couple of roster gaps for the stretch drive, adding to a payroll that was slightly over $155 million entering the season, sixth in the MLB and tops in the Angels’ western division of the American League.
He is on his second fortune—the first came on Outdoor Systems, a billboard company he founded with partner and Angels minority investor Bill Levine, taking it public in 1996 and selling to Viacom for $8.7 billion in stock in 1999.
He now has another media property in his portfolio—KLAA 830 AM, the flagship station for his team’s radio broadcasts.
Moreno and his wife, Carole, are heavily involved with local charities and causes. The Angels Baseball Foundation has distributed close to $4 million to charitable programs throughout Southern California.
Anne Catherine Getty Earhart
Heiress of J. Paul Getty
Estimated worth: $1.2 billion
Heiress of J. Paul Getty
Governing Council Officer
The Wilderness Society
Estimated worth: $1.2 billion
President Barack Obama stopped by Anne Catherine Getty Earhart’s place on his way to give the 2014 commencement address for the University of California-Irvine. She hosted a breakfast fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee at her home in North Laguna Beach just prior to the commencement festivities at Angel Stadium.
New logistics but a familiar routine for Getty Earhart, who is a friendly face in Democratic Party fundraising circles, having given richly to Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Al Franken, among others.
She’s founder of the Marisla Foundation in Laguna Beach, which unsuccessfully fought against construction of the San Joaquin Hills (73) Toll Road in the 1990s.
Earhart supported the successful 2010 fight against Proposition 23, which sought to suspend global warming laws, and won again with Proposition 22, which prohibited the state from redirecting funds from local governments.
Marisla Foundation had just under $51.5 million in assets at the end of 2012, the most recent data available. Its giving is primarily for environmental causes along the West Coast of the United States, including Baja, as well as in Hawaii, Chile and in the Western Pacific.
Caroline Getty also is an environmental activist.
She’s served on the governing council of the Wilderness Society since 1993, and according to that website, has also served on the boards of the Student Conservation Association,
World Wildlife Fund, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
We estimate the worth of each up to $1.2 billion, based on a conservative view of an even more robust stock market this past year.
The sisters are two of 16 grandchildren of late oil tycoon J. Paul Getty. They are two of the nation’s richest women.
Their grandfather struck oil in 1953 and founded Getty Oil Co. in 1956. He died in 1976.
The sisters each received $750 million when a nine-year legal fight over J. Paul Getty’s will ended in 1985. Chevron Corp.’s purchase of Getty Oil a year later added another $400 million each.
They continue philanthropic endeavors, along with their political involvement.
In-N-Out Burger Inc.
Estimated worth: $1.1 billion
The Irvine-based burger chain remains quintessentially Californian, even as it continues to grow outside the state and competitors flock around what’s now called the “better-burger” segment of the restaurant business.
The 32-year-old Snyder, granddaughter of the company’s late founders, Harry and Esther Snyder, assumed the top spot at the company following her grandmother’s death in 2006. Although the company is 100% controlled by Snyder, she will not own the entire operation for another three years.
She’s still in charge of the chain, which had an estimated $558 million in revenue last year, operating 295 stores in five states. The company owns or has ground leases for the dirt under many of its locations in its core Southern California market. It employs 1,500 in Orange County and 18,248 companywide.
Snyder is in the process of divorcing her third husband, Val Torres Jr., according to reports. The duo shared a love for drag racing—Snyder competed for her Flying Dutchman racing team in the National Hot Rod Association’s Super Gas and Top Sportsman Division 7 categories while driving a souped-up1970 Plymouth Barracuda and a 1984 Camaro.
The burger chain, which for years has stuck with the same menu and prides itself on using fresh ingredients, recently hiked the price of its burgers and cheeseburgers by a dime. The price of the double-double also went up by 15 cents, while soft drinks are now a nickel more. Company officials cited “some pretty significant cost increases over the last year,” which forced them to “take a small price increase in order to maintain our quality standards,” according to news reports.
In-N-Out has eased off a growth spurt that started with an expansion into Texas in 2011 and kept a quick pace for several years. It remains a standard here and elsewhere, though, and improvements in the general economy helped it to a 6% gain in sales over the past year.
We estimate those gains help Snyder’s wealth, with the healthy year for equities and other asset classes chipping in for a $100 million hike in her fortune.
The chain also supports the In-N-Out Burger Foundation, whose purpose is “to assist children who have been victims of child abuse, and to prevent others from suffering a similar fate.” The foundation collected $1.8 million last year and $15.2 million over the last 11 years.
William Lyon Homes
Estimated worth: $1 billion
Look who’s back among the billionaires.
A strengthening housing and apartment market has likely returned Gen. Lyon and his family to the ranks of those worth $1 billion or more, according to Business Journal estimates.
We’ve bumped up the estimate for the executive chairman of Newport Beach-based homebuilder William Lyon Homes by $200 million from last year.
It’s the first time since the onset of the last housing crash that we’ve estimated Lyon to be a billionaire.
A return to the public markets for the housing industry legend’s namesake company has provided a little bit more clarity for our latest estimate. The Newport Beach-based outfit now has a market value of about $900 million, and the company’s shares have risen about 13% since going public via an initial public offering in April 2013.
Lyon and his family—son Bill H. Lyon is the company’s chief executive—own all the company’s class B stock, which is worth about $165 million, according to regulatory filings. The family also controlled a 50.8% voting stake in the company as of March.
Only a portion of the Lyon family’s wealth is directly tied to the homebuilder.
Lyon also is a 50% owner of Newport Beach-based Lyon Communities, an apartment owner that has about 11,000 units to its name.
The apartment company, formed about 25 years ago, is valued at about $2 billion.
Factoring in debt likely in the 50% range leaves Lyon’s stake in the apartment company estimated at $500 million or more.
Lyon has been active in various other money-making ventures over the course of his long career in OC. He and fellow OC’s Wealthiest list member George Argyros reportedly paid about $30 million to buy AirCal out of bankruptcy in 1981, and each about doubled his money with a sale to American Airlines five years later.
Lyon also is known for his classic car and plane collection. He has some 100 classic, antique cars, including 10 Duesenbergs, of which only 480 were made. He also has a collection of old warplanes and sponsors the Lyon Air Museum near John Wayne Airport.
Known as “The General,” 91-year-old Lyon served as a flyer in the Pacific, European and North African theaters during World War II. He rose to chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve before retiring from the military in 1979 as a major general.
He’s one of the county’s biggest philanthropists and supporters of Republican candidates.
RSI Holding LLC
Estimated worth: $825 million
Simon has spent a good part of this year making structural changes as he continued to grow the homebuilding side of his business.
What was RSI Development LP is now known as RSI Homes, and it’s expanding, he said, looking to build more homes through a new program called “AREA,” which works with real estate agents to locate properties in “key markets where RSI is interested in buying older or dilapidated homes and replacing them with new homes.”
RSI Homes has acquired “dozens” of properties in Orange County and in the San Fernando Valley.
An early example of the potential of the AREA program was unveiled in Costa Mesa in May, when five fresh single-family homes rose on a once-vacant lot surrounded by a graffiti-riddled fence at Center Street and Placentia Avenue.
Simon also has added to the homebuilder’s management team, bringing Peter Boutros aboard as the new president and chief operating officer.
RSI Homes is just a part of Simon’s enterprise. His RSI Holding also includes RSI Home Products Inc., a manufacturer of kitchen and bath cabinets that sells to retailers. RSI Holding also owns Professional Cabinet Solutions, which focuses on made-to-order, frameless cabinets and primarily sells to builders and dealers.
We’re figuring Simon’s net worth up by $50 million from last year. Continued low interest rates and strong home sales likely helped RSI Homes offset the costs of investments in new programs, personnel, and the cabinet-making operations. Simon also got the benefits of healthy gains for stocks and other asset classes over the past year.
He’s a first-generation American who was born in East L.A. to a Russian mother and English father. He went to Los Angeles City College and earned a degree in engineering. He spent five years at Layne and Bowler Pump Co. as a junior engineer and joined his father’s cabinet company, Perma-Bilt Industries, growing it to one of the largest cabinet makers in the U.S. He sold it to an Australian company in 1987 and started RSI in 1989.
Simon gives to various charities through the Simon Family Foundations, which recently agreed to affiliate its Simon Scholars program with the Horatio Alger Association (see related story, page 1).
Miven Venture Partners
Estimated worth: $800 million
The Tsaos, one of Orange County’s wealthiest business couples, scored an exit this year in one of their long-held portfolio companies.
San Jose-based A10 Networks Inc. raised $187.5 million in a late March initial public offering. The company’s shares now trade on the New York Stock Exchange, with a market cap of about $758 million.
The Tsaos’ Miven Venture Partners in Newport Beach reportedly invested in A10 Networks in 2006. The size of Miven’s stake has not been disclosed.
It’s the first notable deal for the $100 million venture fund in at least two years. The Business Journal hasn’t found one investment the firm made in the past three years. The company doesn’t have a website and rarely touts a financing deal.
We recently made a rare contact with Victor Tsao via email.
“We are still doing fine,” he said in his typical cryptic fashion.
We’ll take his word, since he declined to provide an update on his company, personal business or philanthropic efforts.
The couple have kept a low profile since they sold Linksys Group Inc. to Cisco Systems Inc. for $500 million in 2003. Cisco sold the Irvine-based home networking group last year to Belkin International Inc. in Playa Vista on undisclosed terms.
We estimate the Tsaos at $800 million, up from $650 million a year ago based on the strong market and exit.
Our estimate of their wealth begins with the sale to Cisco and other investments they’ve made since then. Victor Tsao is big on mentoring entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China, where both of the Tsaos were born.
Janie Tsao heads the Tsao Family Foundation in Corona del Mar.
The Miven Venture Partners Scholarship was established by the Tsao Family Foundation and Miven Venture Partners at California State University-Fullerton to support students who need financial assistance.
Howard F. Ahmanson Jr.
Trustee, Fieldstead and Co.
Estimated worth: $675 million
Ahmanson’s father, Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Sr., started and grew Home Savings & Loan, which was bought for $10 billion in 1998 by Washington Mutual Inc.
Ahmanson Sr. died in 1968, and his estate was split between the Ahmanson Foundation and his then-18-year-old son.
The younger Ahmanson is a trustee of the foundation, which ended its fiscal year in October 2013 with roughly $1.1 billion in unrestricted net assets, up about $137.3 million for the year. It gave nearly $39.8 million away through that same period.
Ahmanson and his wife, Roberta, spend a lot of time on the road as part of their philanthropy. A recent trip took them to Europe to photograph church interiors. Their philanthropic efforts gravitate toward Christian missions, anti-poverty efforts and arts programs overseas.
A recent effort in Michigan involved a conference on “Beauty and the Poor.”
The couple also gives to Southern California causes, such as an inner-city school in Watts, the Pacific Symphony, a women’s shelter in Orange called Casa Teresa, and arts and culture programs at Biola University in La Mirada.
Some of their interests often lie quite close to home—such as the help they gave to a successful effort to keep fire rings for public use on the Newport Beach shoreline. Roberta Ahmanson noted the public aspect of the fire pits, as well as the importance of place and ritual to the people who used them, according to reports.
The couple lives in a Hobbit-esque manse just a short walk from the fire rings on the beach at Little Corona del Mar. It was completed in 2010 for $30 million. Inside are exposed wooden beams, a curved staircase, a stone fireplace with a quotation from T.S. Eliot, and a slightly nautical theme down to a collection of Noah’s Ark figurines.
The heir readily concedes he was given his entire financial fortune—a divergence from most of his fellow OC’s Wealthiest list members, who earned their fortunes (see related story, page 4).
Ahmanson graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles and has a master’s in linguistics from the University of Texas.
We estimate Ahmanson’s wealth at $675 million, a $50 million increase based on the robust climate for various asset classes over the past year, with an offset for his giving.
John L. Curci
Lido Peninsula Co.
Estimated Wealth: $550 million
Curci keeps a low public profile as head of a family that has made a mark on the office, residential and resort landscapes of Orange County and Palm Springs, with interests in industrial property throughout Southern California to boot, according to sources with knowledge of the holdings.
A big piece of the family’s wealth is said to stem from the 23 or so acres owned by Lido Peninsula Co. where manufactured houses have been developed and sold with ground leases. Notable tenants on the land include the Lido Yacht Anchorage & Drystack and well-known Sabatino’s Sausage Co.
Early and long-standing investments in Ed Roski’s Majestic Realty Co. also are said to have bolstered the family’s holdings over the years.
The Curci fortune started with John L. Curci’s late father, also named John, who began buying land in California during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“Buying land in California is smart if you’ve got staying power,” the elder Curci was fond of saying, according to some sources familiar with the family.
He went on to play a key role in the development of La Quinta Country Club, Indian Wells Country Club and Thunderbird Country Club in Rancho Mirage, according to various reports.
The annual Bob Hope Classic at La Quinta has a field named after the elder Curci, who is listed with Desi Arnaz among the founders of Indian Wells in various reports.
His son and the rest of the clan carry little debt and have maintained an “impeccable” reputation in the business world, according to familiar sources.
The next generation continues to bring variety to the family business, with a son of John L.—another John—running Dbac Inc., one of the largest tenant-improvement contractors in OC.
It’s unknown how the wealth is apportioned among multiple generations, and our estimate for John L. Curci could be low. We’ve taken him up from last year, in any case, based on the strength of equities and other asset classes in the past 12 months.
He gives through family foundations, among other organizations.
Fletcher “Ted” Jones Jr.
Fletcher Jones Management Group Inc.
Estimated worth: $525 million
All is well for the leading of Mercedes-Benz in these parts.
His Fletcher Jones Management Group Inc. saw 2013 sales reach $1.85 billion, with its flagship property, Fletcher Jones Motorcars in Newport Beach, bringing in about $618 million.
“Overall, the group is up year-over-year,” said Fletcher Jones General Manager Garth Blumenthal, who oversees day-to-day operations at the Newport Beach property and is a partner in the recently opened Temecula dealership. “Our business has definitely grown in Newport Beach over the last year, approximately 10 to 12%.”
Fletcher Jones Management, which got its start by Jones’ father in Los Angeles in 1946 at Seventh Street and Vermont Avenue, owns 18 dealerships in Illinois, Nevada, Hawaii and California.
Luxury brands dominate the mix. Nine dealerships sell Mercedes-Benz, two offer Audis, and the other two sell Porsche models. There are three Honda dealerships and a dealership that sells Fords. Five offer Sprinter vans, two carry Smart vehicles, and one is under the Volkswagen nameplate.
The group recently sold Fletcher Jones Toyota Scion in Las Vegas to fellow list member David Wilson’s Orange-based Wilson Automotive Group in a $75 million deal. It also is looking to expand its operations in Chicago, Blumenthal said.
We’re estimating Jones’ wealth at $525 million, up from $450 million last year based on the strong performance of his dealerships, the continued recovery of auto sales so far this year, and the sale to Wilson.
The increase also comes with a concession that we might well have been low on Jones’ estimate for several years.
He lives at Pelican Point in Newport Coast and keeps an office at the Newport Beach dealership.
His company continues to have a big presence in the communities where its dealerships are located, with a focus primarily on local schools and children’s charities.
Mag Instrument Inc.
Estimated worth: $500 million
Maglica’s flashlight business has grown and so has the value of “other ventures” abroad, mostly in Europe, according to a trusted source, who says it’s likely that Maglica benefited from “increased real estate prices generally.”
We have boosted the estimate of the Anaheim Hills resident’s fortune by $50 million, with the generally strong financial markets over the past year also a factor.
Ontario-based Mag Instrument makes various types of flashlights and sells them in more than 100 countries. It continues to grow, innovate and obtain patents in the U.S. and internationally. Maglica has more than 110 patents issued and has more applications filed.
The 83-year-old still shows up to work every day, sometimes on Saturdays.
Mag Instrument prides itself on domestic manufacturing, with all of its products made in its million-square-foot facility in Ontario, the latest reflection of what began in a small garage in Los Angeles in the 1950s.
Maglica was born in New York in 1930 to parents who had recently moved from Croatia. Tough times wrought by the Great Depression led Maglica’s mother to take him, at age 2, back to her homeland on the island of Zlarin. His father sent money when he could.
Maglica grew up in Croatia, and when World War II ended, he went to school in Sibenik and was trained as a mechanic.
He moved back to New York in 1950 with a goal of quickly earning money to bring his mother, wife and daughter to the U.S. He was ill, though, and had to be hospitalized for some time, which he used to study English.
He couldn’t find much work besides at sewing shops in New York, but he saved enough to bring his family to the U.S. He then moved west to venture out. He landed a machinist job in Long Beach and soon set out to start his own job shop in L.A., which became incorporated as Mag Instrument in 1974.
Maglica keeps a close connection to Croatia. He heads the Maglite Foundation, which he started in 1997 after visiting Zlarin and seeing the “extent of pollution” there. The foundation focuses on environmental protection and economic revitalization in the Adriatic region. Maglica sponsored the construction of a waste processing plant there in 2000.
Founder, managing principal
Estimated worth: $500 million
Maseeh maintains a quiet profile in Orange County outside the occasional soirée thrown at his Newport Beach oceanfront mansion, Portabello, which he purchased in 2010 for a county record of $41.1 million.
The place drew a big crowd in late June for GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher’s birthday/fundraising party that included Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk and actor Kevin Costner.
Philanthropy is a big part of Maseeh’s work these days, although he still runs Newport Beach hedge fund Picoco LLC, which never touts a deal publicly.
Maseeh, a parent of an autistic child, established the Kids Institute for Development and Advancement in Irvine five years ago.
He also has dedicated time and money to The Port, a renovated theater in Corona del Mar that served as a host for the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Miss Corona del Mar Pageant, and various films and cultural performances and events. Maseeh bought the place in 2007 and has put more than $1 million into its makeover as a high-end theater.
His Massiah Foundation has given to Portland State University in Oregon, where he did undergraduate work. The school of engineering and the math and statistics department there are both named after him.
Maseeh started the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture at the University of California-Irvine and gives to its Samueli School of Engineering.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained pioneer in micro-electromechanical systems grew up in Tehran, Iran, and came to the U.S. at age 18. He cashed out of IntelliSense Corp., a software company he built in Massachusetts, with a $750 million sale to Corning Inc. more than a decade ago.
We estimate Maseeh’s wealth at $500 million, up from $450 million a year ago. Our baseline for Maseeh presumes he cashed out a significant amount of Corning shares he got in the sale of IntelliSense before the stock crashed in 2001. Our increased estimate this year assumes gains in his portfolio with the strong run in stocks and other asset classes over the past 12 months, with charity offsetting a portion.
Owner, chief executive
Wilson Automotive Group
Estimated worth: $500 million
Wilson added to his mainline Toyota lineup two months ago when he paid $75 million to fellow list member Fletcher Jones. He also struck a deal with Peggy Butler to add Villa Ford in his portfolio, putting another $30 million or so toward that deal.
Those investments will likely show up in full on Wilson’s personal balance sheet next. Otherwise he’d likely be up by even more than the $50 million increase we estimate for this year, a total that owes to the strong market for new cars, as well as a rebound on sales for Toyota after a patch of quality concerns and disruptions to production capacity that dragged in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in late 2011.
The group saw 2013 revenue to top $1.6 billion, in line with a trend of strong automotive sales over the past 12 months both nationally and in OC, the heart of Wilson’s operations, which include more than 2,000 employees working at 19 dealerships. Eight dealerships sell Toyota brands, three offer Lexus vehicles, and another three sell Hondas. There are two Ford stores and one dealership per brand for Acura, Mazda and Volkswagen.
The holdings have put Wilson in a prime spot to catch the updraft on auto sales, which includes a 4.3% increase nationally over the first half of the year, with an annual pace of nearly a million matching a prerecession high recorded in 2006. It’s been even stronger in OC, where the Newport Beach-based Orange County Automobile Dealers Association reported a 7.9% increase in new-car sales to nearly 90,000.
Wilson started his empire when he bought Toyota of Orange in 1985 after a two-year stint as general manager that saw the dealership’s vehicle sales quadruple to 8,000 annually.
Wilson and his company also have a big footprint in the community, having donated millions to hundreds of local schools, charities and non-profits. Major contributions this year have
gone to the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach, SchoolPower (which supports public schools in Laguna Beach) and Chapman University.
EnCore Aerospace LLC
Estimated worth: $475 million
James Downey’s aerospace startup in Seal Beach has taken off with a string of new supplier contracts for Boeing and Airbus.
EnCore Aerospace LLC, cofounded in 2011 with Tom McFarland, a veteran of C&D Aerospace in Huntington Beach, has formed two business units to meet rising demand in the volatile industry. They’re expected to combine for revenue of nearly $100 million in the coming year.
EnCore Interiors, which operates out of Seal Beach and Irvine, is supplying integrated floor panels for all of Boeing’s B737 and B747 aircraft models set for production this year. The unit also has been selected to build floor panels for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.
The work will be handled at its 60,000-square-foot operation in Seal Beach. The Irvine location is set to double its space later this year in a move to Huntington Beach.
EnCore Composite Structures, which operates out of a 120,000-square-foot factory in Brea, has seen sales increase 30% in the past three years since Downey acquired Irvine-based Composites Unlimited Inc. for an undisclosed amount and London-based BAE Systems PLC’s composite structures line of business in Brea for $32.5 million. The unit is handling complex assemblies for Airbus’ A350 aircraft and the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, a military aircraft that fuses the speed of an airplane with the hovering capability of a helicopter.
We estimate Downey’s wealth at $475 million, up from $425 million a year ago. That takes into account the $600 million sale of his C&D in Huntington Beach to Zodiac SA in France in 2005 as the basis of his wealth. Our estimate is based largely on the sale, factoring in other owners and debt. We’ve increased it by $50 million this year to reflect business growth, a strong stock market, and gains in other asset classes in the past 12 months, with some give-back based on his generosity.
Downey also oversees Aliso Viejo-based family investment firm Wave Equity Partners LLC, which manages and supports family investments and philanthropy.
He keeps a low profile but has given millions through his foundations since the C&D sale.
Chairman, chief executive
Entrepreneurial Corporate Group
Estimated worth: $450 million
Frozen burrito entrepreneur Duane Roberts now has a growing fortune tied to real estate and other investments.
We estimate Roberts’ wealth at $450 million, up from $400 million a year ago based on presumed higher valuations for his investments, real estate and companies.
His Newport Beach-based Entrepreneurial Corporate Group is said to own more than 10,000 apartments—primarily in the Southwestern U.S.—in addition to British food manufacturers, restaurants and other ventures.
Robert’s best-known property is in his native Riverside, the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. He purchased the Mission Inn in 1985 for $13.5 million and saved it from demolition. It was reopened in 1992.
His fortune tracks back to 1950, when his dad, Harry Roberts, started Butcher Boy Food Products Inc., a meat company that was the main supplier of patties to McDonald’s and other fast-food chains. Roberts dropped out of college to help his dad run the business.
At 19 he came up with what is billed as the first frozen burrito. Roberts soon became president and built Butcher Boy to six plants and 1,400 workers before he was 30.
Butcher Boy had an estimated $85 million in yearly sales when the family sold the business to Central Soya Inc. in 1980.
The company later became part of Tyson Foods Inc. before being sold to a private equity group.
Roberts went on to sell another company, Fernando’s Foods, to ConAgra Foods Inc. in the late 1990s for about $35 million in ConAgra stock.
Roberts took his food fortune and branched out into real estate, as well as banking and other investments.
Another family member now has the most prominent name in local food circles: stepdaughter Casey Reinhardt, chief creative officer of Laguna Beach-based Casey’s Cupcakes. Roberts’ wife, Kelly, has her name on a Tuscan-style spa at the Mission Inn.
Roberts built a 17,000-square-foot pet adoption center named after his mother, the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center. He is a major long-term supporter of Santa Ana-based Olive Crest Children Treatment Centers Inc. and has given “seven figures” to Pepperdine University, where his stepdaughter went to school.
Crosspoint Venture Partners
Estimated worth: $375 million
Hoff is tough to track, and our estimate on his wealth continues to be just that. We’ve increased the number by $50 million based on the general market direction in the past year, along with his reputation as a particularly opportunistic investor.
Hoff amassed much of his wealth from his time at Crosspoint Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that’s no longer investing but was known for its “exemplary returns and reputation” as one of the “most elite” venture capital firms, according to reports published while the firm was open.
Redwood City-based Crosspoint was founded in 1970 and through Hoff opened an Irvine office in 1983. It invested in early-stage companies in the e-business services, software, and other technology-oriented sectors. It typically invested between $5 million and $40 million in a project and took at least 20% in equity.
It had about $2 billion in capital at one point and has invested in or managed more than 200 businesses, according to the firm’s website.
Another Crosspoint alum is Don Milder, who led the healthcare side of investments there before going on to cofound Versant Ventures in 1999. Versant, a healthcare-focused venture investor, has its main offices in Newport Beach and Menlo Park.
Some of Crosspoint’s most lucrative deals during the dot-com years include PairGain Technologies Inc. in Tustin, which fetched $1.6 billion in a sale to ADC Telecommunications Inc. It also sold Efficient Networks to Siemens for $1.5 billion.
Hoff is on the advisory board of Corona del Mar-based Miramar Venture Partners, which invests in early-stage information technology companies.
He’s been on the board of A Better LA since 2006. He also recently served as interim executive director of the nonprofit organization.
Dale Fowler Real Estate
Estimated worth: $350 million
Fowler and his wife, Sarah Ann, managed to keep a low public profile for decades before a couple of big gifts landed the couple national attention that was unsolicited but just as unavoidable in today’s world of wireless communication.
The Fowlers “gave some money” to Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., in 2007—a $60 million gift to the 1,500-student school. A raft of attention from the press and favor seekers didn’t dissuade the Fowlers from giving a similar gift to Dale’s alma mater, Chapman University, last year.
Fowler said Chapman’s development under President Jim Doti was a factor in the decision. And he credited another member of this year’s OC’s Wealthiest—fellow Chapman grad George Argyros—with an assist.
“Sometime ago we started taking notice of what Jim and George have done at Chapman,” Fowler says. “They’ve done a remarkable job, and we thought, ‘Gosh, we’re from Orange County, and we should leave some legacy behind there.’ ”
The Fowlers, who have a grandchild who graduated from Chapman and now teaches there, made no request for recognition and put no restrictions on the gift. Doti did ask them to get to know Tom Campbell, dean of Chapman’s school of law, which will now bear Dale Fowler’s name.
Pretty heady billing for a fellow who grew up in Santa Ana helping his grandfather, father and uncle with the family’s gravel business.
He was the first member of his family to graduate from college and earned enough selling cars in Laguna Beach to pay for school and save $5,200 that went for a chunk of land in Huntington Beach. He got a loan to build an apartment complex and eventually sold it for a profit that allowed him to make timely buys of 200 or so acres near Ontario Airport.
Fowler kept on developing, and he debuts on this year’s list based on trusted sources who peg his net worth in the $350 million range even after the big gifts to Chapman and Gordon and support given to various other charities.
Founder, chief executive
Estimated worth: $350 million
We’ve estimated the wealth of Jabara, the founder of the Newport Beach-based cellphone tower company, at $350 million this year.
That’s up $25 million from a year ago and factors in gains for Jabara’s extensive real estate holdings and related investments, as well as continued growth for his primary line of business.
Mobilitie is among the country’s largest privately held providers of wireless infrastructure. The company scored $1.1 billion from 2012’s sale of 2,300 cellphone towers, representing a “portion” of assets of Mobilitie.
In addition to cell towers, the company has a growing line of business providing upgraded wireless service to sports arenas, concert venues, casinos and other large venues.
The company raised $100 million from Los Angeles-based private equity investor Shamrock Capital Advisors last year to help fund the building and deployment of those systems.
Jabara last year estimated his company’s enterprise value—essentially its market cap plus debt and minus cash—at between $400 million and $500 million. He also has a growing real estate portfolio, primarily in Orange County, in addition to Mobilitie.
He’s spent more than $200 million on residential and commercial real estate since 2012, including several buildings in Newport Beach.
Jabara’s also the main financial backer of Villa Real Estate, a new luxury home brokerage that’s quickly made a mark in the coastal market.
Philanthropic efforts include support for several local schools and charities, including Sage Hill School in Newport Beach and the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
Stacey E. Nicholas
Estimated worth: $350 million
Nicholas made a splash as an OC philanthropist in June when her nonprofit donated $9.5 million to University of California-Irvine’s Henry Samueli School of Engineering.
The gift, like her newly established Opus Foundation, will focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for K-12 students in general and under-represented students in particular.
About $5 million of that is earmarked for K-12 and community outreach; $2 million for an endowed deanship; $2 million for graduate and undergraduate support; and $500,000 for building renovation for new study space.
Nicholas previously helped create summer internships for high school students at the Samueli School.
The former wife of Broadcom Corp. cofounder and former Chief Executive Henry Nicholas tracks her fortune to the couple’s divorce settlement six years ago.
The Business Journal estimates her worth at $350 million, up from $325 million a year ago.
That’s based on property and assets she retained from her 20-plus-year marriage to Nicholas and the stock market’s sizable gains in the past 12 months.
Stacey, whose maiden name is Feller, married Nicholas in 1987.
She is a member of the Samueli School’s Engineering Leadership Council and Diversity Advisory Board.
Stacey first filed for divorce in 2002, a year before her husband stepped down as Broadcom’s chief executive.
The divorce became final in 2008.
Stacey holds a bachelor’s degree and master’s in electrical engineering from the University of California-Los Angeles.
She was an electrical engineer at the now-defunct defense contractor TRW Corp., where she met Nicholas.
TRW was also where Nicholas met Broadcom cofounder Henry Samueli.
Drug developer, founder
Pharma Pass LLC
Estimated worth: $350 million
Pawan Seth keeps an extraordinarily low personal profile, but you’re likely familiar with his work if you are taking generic versions of popular over-the-counter drugs, such as Prilosec.
Seth’s worth from patents and drug development deals is not easy to pin down. We estimate his wealth up by about 10% from a year ago, based on the gains for equities and other asset classes over the past year, as well as the continuing availability of products that bring him royalties with sales at drug stores worldwide.
Seth got started on his fortune when he established Pharma Pass LLC, which developed ways to control the release of drugs and boost their effectiveness. He gained a good chunk of wealth 12 years ago after Biovail Corp. (now Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.) paid him $190 million for drugs under development, technology, intellectual property, and the assets of Pharma Pass LLC and Pharma Pass SA of France.
Seth has a number of well-known drugs to his credit. He created Wellbutrin XL, a once-daily, time-release version of the antidepressant that continues to maintain a loyal following in the wake of generics.
He is also the inventor of the sole generic form of Prilosec that didn’t infringe upon patents held by U.K.-based drug maker AstraZeneca PLC. Belgium-based UCB SA markets Seth’s version of generic Prilosec. UCB got rights to Seth’s version after buying Germany-based Schwarz Pharma AG in 2007.
These days, Seth is involved in researching cellular therapies to fight diseases such as critical limb ischemia, according to his website. The site notes that the inventor has “invested generously in this field which offers hope for effective treatment for this devastating and often serious condition resulting in amputations.”
Nifco Inc., Nifsan Pty. Ltd.
Simmons Co. Ltd.
Estimated wealth: $325 million
Ogasawara isn’t a full-time OCer, but his purchase of One Pelican Hill in Newport Coast two years ago, for nearly $19 million in an auction, gives us room to put him on the local wealthiest list. The mansion, known as Villa del Lago, was incomplete at the time of the bankruptcy auction, but a recent look tells us any work that was necessary should be about done now.
Tokyo-based Nifco makes plastic parts and components for industrial uses. It had nearly $100 million in net income on $1.8 billion in net sales in its fiscal year ended March 31, up 83% and 32% year-over-year, respectively. Japanese and international automakers and other manufacturers are its key customers, including Toyota, Honda and Sony.
Nifco has various subsidiaries where Ogasawara also serves in leadership. It owns the Japan Times Ltd., which publishes the Japan Times, the oldest English-language newspaper there. Ogasawara’s daughter Yukiko oversees the paper’s operations.
Ogasawara also is chairman of Simmons Co. Ltd., which has franchise rights for mattress company Simmons USA.
He also has a residence in Hong Kong and travels often to Japan and other countries.
A recent news report in the Japan Times said Ogasawara “was ordered to pay [about $1 million] in back taxes in December 2012 after failing to declare about [$10 million] in income over a three-year period through 2011.”
We’re still estimating Ogasawara’s wealth up by $25 million this year, based on a good year for stocks and on other factors, including achievements of his real estate development company, along with increased sales and profits for Nifco.
He’s a big name in Australia, too. Nifsan Pty. Ltd. has been working on the “billion-dollar-range” Emerald Lakes masterplanned development on the Gold Coast. The community has a golf course, bike tracks and a club house, along with retail and commercial properties.
It looks like its residential part is all but done now, as the Emerald Lakes website currently is marketing its “1, 2 & 3 bedroom waterfront village apartments”—starting at $299,900—that are “coming soon.”
Ogasawara got his undergraduate education in Japan. He went on to study at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He also has honorary doctorates from the University of South Florida and Florida State.
He has survived prostate and throat cancers and was treated at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles and Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach. He gave a “generous gift” to Hoag after his treatment to be used for research for head and neck cancer.
Ogasawara serves as a trustee at the University of Southern California. He also set up the Ogasawara Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Engineering and is involved in other organizations such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Japan-America Society of Tokyo.
Joan Irvine Smith
Estimated worth: $325 million
Irvine Smith’s fortune derives from the holdings of her great-grandfather, the erstwhile land baron James Irvine, who struck it rich during the Gold Rush of 1849. He and three partners bought 120,000 acres of land—one-fourth of Orange County at that time.
His son and Smith’s grandfather, James Irvine II, incorporated the land as Irvine Land Co. in the 1890s.
Donald Bren and others acquired control of what became the Irvine Company in 1977. Bren, who ranks No. 1 on this year’s wealthiest list, became sole owner in 1996.
Bren paid $256 million in 1991 for shares held by Smith and her mother, Athalie Clarke.
Smith and Bren are said to be cordial. They share a passion for the environment and preserving parts of the Irvine Ranch as open space.
Irvine Co. donated 1,000 acres that became the campus of University of California-Irvine in the 1960s.
Irvine Smith is the benefactor of the Irvine Museum, which occupies part of the ground floor of an office building in the John Wayne Airport area of Irvine. The museum focuses on paintings of California, with many from the early part of the 20th century.
She’s a major donor to various education, arts and environmental causes, and has supported political figures including Hillary Clinton, Loretta Sanchez, the late Ted Kennedy and others.
Last year, she sold The Oaks—a 20-acre horse farm in San Juan Capistrano that was priced as high as $20 million—for an undisclosed amount to Davidson Communities, a Del Mar-based homebuilder.
Newport Beach-based Isles Ranch Partners LLC and Minneapolis-based TPG Credit Management LP helped fund the acquisition.
Davidson wants to build 32 homes on the 20-acre site, which had been used for horse breeding and charitable efforts for more than a quarter century under Irvine Smith’s ownership.
Prior to selling The Oaks, she held equestrian events to fund spinal cord research.
Her pledge of $1 million helped create the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UC Irvine, co-named for the late actor Christopher Reeve.
The RIRC gives the Reeve-Irvine Research Medal, an annual $50,000 cash award in the field with funding by the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clark Foundation.
Irvine Smith also gave $1 million to help start UC Irvine’s School of Law, which opened in 2009.
We’ve taken our estimate of Smith up by $25 million this year, estimating a solid return on investments in a market for stocks and other asset classes.
Founder, chief executive
Estimated worth: $325 million
Wang is changing up Vizio’s marketing playbook, moving dollars away from big-ticket college football sponsorships, which built the quality, low-cost brand throughout the U.S., to another form of beloved entertainment: movies.
The Irvine-based company, which designs, markets and sells flat TVs, will spend much of the year telling consumers about the importance of picture quality and technology in the entertainment experience through its “Beautifully Simple” mass media campaign.
The latest development looks to build on the momentum of Vizio’s four-year title sponsorship of the Rose Bowl and BCS National Championship game, a deal that ended in January along with the BCS system itself, which will yield to a four-team playoff next year. The company aims to steer consumers to its new line of full-array LED TVs. The line won a 2014 Best of CES Award for its 4K Ultra HD series.
Vizio is now looking to close partnerships with motion picture industry studios and educational institutions.
Vizio in May took a minority stake in a local startup vying for a foothold in the emerging wearable technology market. It invested about $1 million in Irvine-based Pear Sports LLC, a developer of fitness training technology. In the strategic investment, believed to be a first for Vizio, both companies will jointly work on research and development efforts on wearable electronics, advancements in chip design, software and other potential electronic devices.
Vizio also is in the throes of developing a new technology to optimize Ultra HD, dubbed “high dynamic range,” with content and processing help from several Hollywood partners. The expected result: life-like images that pop off the screen in incredible detail and contrast.
We estimated Wang’s worth at $325 million, up from $300 million last year based on the strong gains in the stock market in the past 12 months that offset a maturing market for TVs and other investments made in PCs that have yet to pay dividends.
That’s our conservative guess since Wang’s exact ownership stake, Vizio’s profits, and other variables aren’t known. It’s believed that Taiwan-based AmTran Technology, one of the company’s primary manufacturers, owns about 23% of Vizio.
Chief executive, chairman
Golden State Foods Corp.
Wetterau Associates LLC
Estimated worth: $325 million
We’ve taken our estimate on Wetterau up by $25 million based mostly on the nice run enjoyed by his privately held Golden State Foods Corp., which topped the $6 billion mark in annual sales last year.
Wetterau is majority owner of the Irvine-based food processor and distributor. Golden State Foods, or GSF, sells meats, sauces and other food products to quick-service restaurants. Its customer list features such fast-food heavyweights as McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and Chipotle, a hot newcomer that continues to shake up the fast-casual segment. GSF says it services more than 25,000 restaurants and stores from its 42 locations in some 60 countries.
GSF isn’t the only source of Wetterau’s wealth.
He also counts on other companies that are owned by Wetterau Associates in St. Louis, a family business that he and his brother, Conrad, started in 1993.
Wetterau Associates’ holdings include Taunton, Mass.-based Quality Beverage LP, the largest independently owned Anheuser-Busch distributor in the state.
Wetterau Associates also has stakes in Lucia’s Pizza in St. Louis.
There’s a running theme here in the roster of Wetterau businesses: food.
The family has long been in food-related ventures, starting with one that Mark Wetterau’s great-grandfather started in the late 1800s when he moved to the U.S. from Germany.
The company eventually became Wetterau Inc., where Mark began his career after graduating from Westminster College in 1980 with a business degree.
He soon became chief of Shop ’n Save Warehouse Foods Inc., a retail chain that Wetterau Inc. had acquired.
Mark and Conrad sold Wetterau Inc. and its business units to Super Valu Inc. for $1.1 billion in 1992.
Mark Wetterau is chairman of GSF Foundation. It has raised more than $28 million since inception and has donated to more than 550 charities focused on serving children.
Los Angeles Lakers
Estimated worth: $275 million
We gave the Newport Coast resident the benefit of the doubt last year, figuring he was good for the $250 million minimum to make this list. That was based on his big endorsement deals overseas and his reputation for pay-day intelligence, which had him entering the final year of a three-year deal worth $90 million last year.
He took a pass on that in exchange for a two-year deal at $48.5 million. He’ll get $25 million in the second year, when he’ll be entering his 20th season in the NBA.
Not much else changed for Bryant since last year—he tore an Achilles tendon six games into last season and has been in recuperation and rehab since then.
There’s nothing that would indicate Bryant was tossing money around over the past year, either, so we’re giving him credit for taking care of business. He collects his checks from the Lakers and various endorsements—he’s big in Europe and China—whether or not he’s hurt. We figure that was good for a 10% bump based on the strong markets for just about all investment classes over the past 12 months.
Another indicator that Bryant’s wealth has been in good health: no news of discord with wife, Vanessa, lately. Indeed, the couple appears to continue their philanthropy in OC and elsewhere through the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. Among their local beneficiaries: Mamba FC, an OC youth soccer club “that teaches young athletes how to become leaders and independent thinkers, while working together as a group to achieve a common goal through health and fitness.”
Edward O. Thorp
Edward O. Thorp & Associates
Estimated wealth: $275 million
The “King of Quants” is a low-key hedge funder with a range of interests broad enough to befit a guy who went from the security of high academia to being a burr under the saddle of Las Vegas casinos.
Thorp irritated the Vegas crowd back in the 1960s by coming up with card counting—a craft he mastered well enough to write a couple of books that have influenced fellow OC’s Wealthiest list member Bill Gross.
Thorp has rubbed elbows with Warren Buffet and plenty of other billionaires along the way, but it’s not all about numbers. He’s also crossed paths with leading literary light Cormac McCarthy through the Santa Fe Institute, which aims to “discover, comprehend, and communicate the common fundamental principles in complex physical, computational, biological, and social systems that underlie many of the most profound problems facing science and society today.”
Thorp stays busy and limber with everything from running to scuba diving these days. He’s the proud papa and grandpa of a crew that includes daughters who live near his Newport Coast home and a son who runs his family office from New York.
It’s not easy getting a grip on the net worth of a fellow who’s been a top performer in the
world of investing for decades. Thorp debuted last year at the minimum $250 million mark for our list, and we’ve given him a 10% bump based the strong performance of the markets since
We also readily concede that we could be
well below the mark for a guy who has
sold more than a million copies of “Beat
the Dealer,” taught everywhere from Massachusetts Institute of Technology to University of California-Los Angeles, and speaks
as plainly and clearly as anyone on topics ranging from quantitative analysis to political culture.
Quality Systems Inc.
Estimated worth: $250 million
Razin continues to be a major figure at the Irvine-based healthcare software maker he started with $2,000 four decades ago.
“I’m still very much involved in the direction of the company, and I’m an active chairman and board member,” he said.
He backed that up with a recent visit to India, where he looked in on Quality’s operations in the tech centers of Bangalore and Hyderabad, as well as Mumbai. He also used the trip as an opportunity to meet with key Quality vendors.
“Every time I go to India, it’s very fascinating to me,” he said.
The bulk of Razin’s wealth tracks to his stake in Quality—10.2 million shares of Quality that’s good for 17% of the company and worth about $160 million. He’s also reaped profits that have come from Quality’s leadership in the field of healthcare software for more than 30 years.
Our estimate keeps Razin even this year, taking into account the strong run for equities and other assets classes over the past year, with an offset for a rugged patch for his Quality shares, which are down over the period.
Quality grew out of a management consulting business Razin started in the early 1970s. It began selling software to dental practices, then added doctors, going public in 1982, raising $11 million.
The Boston native holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He held various technical and managerial positions with former OC aerospace company Rockwell International Corp. prior to starting Quality.
He is a past winner of the Business Journal’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award. Razin has given to MIT, the Chabad Jewish Center of Laguna Beach and the Alzheimer’s Association.
He is a married father of two and grandfather of five, a Boston Red Sox fan and also follows the Angels. He swims daily off the coast near his Laguna Beach home and spends time on his 65-foot “motor sailer” boat.