The Wealthiest Female Techies In America


More than 20% of America’s 50 wealthiest self-made women made their fortunes in the tech industry, both at old-school giants and newcomer start-ups. Interestingly, six of these 11 tech titans have done so not by founding companies but by building them.

Being a hired hand – even a well-paid one – typically isn’t the route for making it big in Silicon Valley. But these executives got in early, jumping on board before a company exploded.

Among these super-successful top executives are Silicon Valley rock stars, or at least household names. Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman owes most of her $2.1 billion fortune to her decade-long stint as CEO of online auction house eBay, which she expanded from $5 million in sales to $8 billion. Three of the women had successful stints at Google: Sheryl Sandberg ($1.05 billion), who is now COO of Facebook; Marissa Mayer ($380 million) , Yahoo’s CEO, and Susan Wojcicki ($300 million), Google’s employee no. 16 who is now CEO of Google’s YouTube, the world’s largest online video platform.

Rounding out the six are Larry Ellison’s confidante Safra Catz, who was tapped as co-CEO of software giant Oracle in September 2014, and Jayshree Ullal, the much lower-profile CEO of Arista Networks. Ullal became CEO of Arista in 2008 when it had no revenues and fewer than 50 employees. “She took slightly more than an engineering team doing some good technology and turned it into the thriving network switch company it is today,” says Arista cofounder David Cheriton. He and fellow cofounder Andreas von Bechtolsheim had previously worked with Ullal at Cisco, where she spent 15 years.

As a group, these wealthy execs actually have much higher profiles than the most successful women tech founders. Topping that list is Judy Faulkner ($2.6 billion), a computer programmer who wrote the code that led to the creation of her Epic Systems in 1976. Now more than half the U.S. population has its medical information stored in Epic software.

Other tech founders include Syntel Technologies’ Neerja Sethi, Marvel Technology group’s Weili Dai, Houzz’ Adi Tatarko and Lynda Weinman, who sold her online learning platform Lynda.com to LinkedIn in May.

One person you’ve probably never heard of is Thai Lee. She and her now ex-husband bought a tiny division of a struggling software company for less than $1 million in 1989. Lee, who is CEO and majority owner, has turned it into one of the biggest and best-regarded IT providers in the world with $6 billion in sales, enough to make it the biggest woman-owned business in the country. It’s also enough to make her a billionaire, though a reluctant one to be sure. “A dollar amount could never accurately convey the respect and admiration I have for the employees of SHI,” she told FORBES, when asked about her fortune.

Despite their success, the wealthiest women tech entrepreneurs and executives are not nearly as rich as their male counterparts. The eleven richest U.S. women to build their wealth in tech are worth a combined $10.6 billion. That’s about 3% of what the 11 richest men in the industry, who have a total net worth of $343.5 billion, are worth. And that total is also less than many of the men’s individual fortunes, including Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

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