A 26-year-old CEO has been crowned the youngest self-made billionaire on Forbes’ annual Billionaires List after Kylie Jenner was removed

  • Austin Russell was the youngest self-made billionaire on Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List.
  • The 26-year-old runs a company that provides the technology for self-driving cars.
  • Russell replaced Kylie Jenner as the youngest self-made billionaire after she was removed in 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

26-year-old Austin Russell became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire on Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires List when it was released on Tuesday.

Russell became a billionaire virtually overnight after his company Luminar Technologies was listed on the Nasdaq via a SPAC merger in December. Forbes currently estimates Russell’s net worth at $2.4 billion.

Russell received a $100,000 fellowship from billionaire investor Peter Thiel in 2012 and dropped out of Stanford to found Luminar Technologies. The company builds sensors for autonomous vehicles.

The company’s sensors have been used to create self-driving cars at companies like Volvo and Toyota. Luminar’s technology relies on LIDAR, a process that uses pulses of light to create a 3-D map of a car’s environment. The technology allows self-driving cars to determine the best course of action and avoid obstacles on the road.

In 2019, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spoke out against the technology, calling it “doomed.” Instead of lidar, which has become popular with numerous automotive companies, including Alphabet’s self-driving start-up Waymo, Tesla relies on external cameras for its “Full Self-Driving” software.

Russell replaced 23-year-old Kylie Jenner on the list after Forbes’ removed her in 2020, saying the beauty guru’s net worth had been overvalued in the documents provided to them by Jenner.

At the time, Jenner responded to Forbes decision to remove her from the list via her Twitter account.

“What am I even waking up to,” she wrote in a tweet. “I thought this was a reputable site.. all I see are a number of inaccurate statements and unproven assumptions lol. I’ve never asked for any title or tried to lie my way there EVER. Period.”

When Jenner was put on the cover of Forbes in 2018 it sparked backlash, as some readers questioned whether she was truly “self-made” due to her family’s wealth.

The executive is one of four self-made billionaires on Forbes’ list that are in their 20s. The other young billionaires include the founders of DoorDash Andy Fang and Stanley Tang, as well as crypto investor Sam Bankman-Fried. All four billionaires are new additions to Forbes’ list.

The billionaire list saw several new developments this year as COVID-19 shook up the economy. In 2020, former President Donald Trump dropped 298 spots on the ranking. Bloomberg estimates Trump’s net worth plunged $700 million during his presidency.

The youngest billionaire on the list was 18-year-old Kevin David Lehmann, a German drugstore heir worth $3.3 billion.

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