Amancio Ortega, the founder of Spanish clothing and accessories retailer, Zara could lay claim to the title of World’s Richest Man after he surpassed Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates.
According to Forbes, shares of the Spanish retailer’s parent company,parent company to Zara, Massimo Dutti and Pull&Bear, ticked up 2.5% Wednesday, boosting his personal fortune by $1.7 billion, then fell 2.8% by Friday. As of 10 a.m. Friday morning, Ortega was worth $77.8 billion, while Gates was worth an estimated $78.1 billion.
Unlike most retailers, Inditex hardly relies on advertising. Ortega has instead devoted most of his resources into turning his company into the most efficient retailing operation in the world. When companies like Gap and H&M were taking five months to design, make, distribute and sell new products in the early 2000s, Zara was doing it in three weeks. That meant Ortega’s companies could keep up with the whims of shoppers much more easily than its competitors — and also had to spend less on warehousing.
Ortega took the title of world’s richest man for the first time in October 2015, when Inditex shares hit an all-time high and boosted Ortega’s net worth to $80 billion. The stock however, quickly dipped, and Gates once again took the throne. The two billionaires will likely continue to exchange the title as the stock prices of their holdings continue to bounce up and down.
Gates has donated nearly $31 billion in stock and cash to his foundation over his lifetime. If the Microsoft cofounder were not such a prolific philanthropist, neither Ortega nor anyone else on Earth would be anywhere close to as rich as Gates.