"Black Billionaires"

Black Billionaires 

Robyn Rihanna Fenty

Ms. Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty entered the music stratosphere as a dazzling star in the early 2000s after signing with Def Jam. A native of Barbados, Rihanna’s debut album Music of the Sun along with her sophomore album, A Girl Like Me brought us fresh Caribbean beats and ballads that each peaked in the top ten of the US Billboard 200 charts. With over 250 million records sold worldwide, the Needed Me artist is one of the top best-selling musical artists of all time alongside greats like Michael Jackson and Madonna. From the dance hall staple, Good Girl Gone Bad to the ever edgy, ANTI, RiRi has been topping the charts and dazzling the world for nearly two decades. Ms. Fenty is by no means a one-hit-wonder; in addition to her musical career, Rihanna is also a world-renowned philanthropist and business mogul. With her company, Fenty Beauty that she started in 2017, the Navy Queen revolutionized the concept of what beauty looks like. Her revolutionary commitment to creating a truly diverse beauty brand challenged the conventional thought that there is only one shade of beauty. Since its creation, Fenty Beauty expanded to include Fenty Skin. The no-fuss skin regimen perfectly pairs with Fenty Beauty ensuring access to high-quality, clinically proven skincare for all. 

BadGirlRiRi could not just stop with skincare and beauty, as a fashion icon she disrupted the fashion industry through her lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty. Putting tradition on notice and creating avenues for everyone to express their sexiness however they want, Rihanna now has not one but two brands worth more than 1 billion USD. 

While her anthem may be B** better have my money, Ms. Fenty is nothing if not a giver. To better serve the global community, Rihanna started The Clara Lionel Foundation (CLF) in 2012. Through CLF, Rihanna honors her grandparents and advocates for issues impacting youth today. CLF focuses on empowering educational, health, and disaster response programs throughout the world. 

In 2017, the Harvard Foundation named Rihanna their Humanitarian of the Year for her continuous commitment to improving access to cancer treatment in Barbados and for establishing a scholarship to support Caribbean-born students’ college education in the United States. In light of all of her successes as an innovative artist, fashion icon, business savant, and global advocate, we celebrate Ms. Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty for her status as a Black billionaire. With an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion, she truly knows how to shine bright like a diamond. 

Sources: fentybeauty.com, savagex.com, wikipedia.com

Robert F. Smith

Mr. Robert F. Smith is an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. Smith was born to educator parents, who raised him in Denver, Colorado. As a high schooler, Mr. Smith secured an internship with Dell Labs after remaining persistent by calling the company after initially being denied due to his age. Smith continued his work with Dell Labs while completing his undergraduate degree. Mr. Smith earned a degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University. As a chemical engineer, he served at numerous leading companies including Kraft General Foods. While at Kraft he secured four patents. Smith also holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.

In 2000, Mr. Smith founded an investment firm Vista Equity Partners, which focuses on software and technology start-ups. Mr. Smith currently serves as Vista’s Chairman and CEO. The current portfolio of Vista Equity Partners includes more than 70 companies that can be categorized as flagship, foundation, endeavor, and/or perennial. VEP spurs economic growth by providing companies with the necessary capital, technological support, and operational support to ensure a continuous return on investment. 

Regarding his philanthropic endeavors, Mr. Smith founded the Fund II Foundation. The foundation’s mission is “to preserve the African American experience, safeguard human rights, provide music education, preserve the environment while promoting the benefits of the outdoors, and sustain critical American values such as entrepreneurship.”Smith serves as the founding director and President. Through the Fund II Foundation, Mr. Smith has made contributions to institutions such as Morehouse College, where Smith announced that he would relieve the debt of nearly 400 students during the 2019 commencement address. 

Thus the Student Freedom Initiative was born. The Student Freedom Initiative expanded to eight additional HBCUs in 2021 to liberate students majoring in STEM from the burden of “current high cost, fixed payment, debt agreements” through alternative “income-contingent education finance alternative[s].” Additional educational investments include the Fund II Foundation’s InternX program, which matches students of color with paid internships across several disciplines. With an estimated net worth of $6.7 billion, Mr. Robert F. Smith is a mogul unlike any other forging his path to success today and paving the way for generations to come.

Source: vistaequitypartners.com, robertsmith.com, morehouse.edu

Shawn Carter "Jay-Z"

Born Shawn Corey Carter in the Bedford-Stuyvesant borough of New York City, NY, Jay Z has blazed a trail for himself unmatched by any. Jay-Z is most popularly known for his career as a rap artist, songwriter, music executive, and media mogul. Mr. Carter is heralded as one of the most influential voices in hip-hop. As the former CEO of Def Jam Recordings, Carter paved the streets of hip hop bringing us the iconic sounds of J. Cole, Rihanna, and Ye. 

Jay-Z first entered the music industry in the late 80s and founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995. A year later his debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt dropped cementing his reputation as a formidable force in music.

Since his debut album, Jay-Z has given us a catalog of 13 solo albums, 5 collaboration albums with artist R. Kelly, Linkin Park, Kanye West, and his wife Beyoncé. Carter has 23 Grammys to his name, which is more than any rapper in history. Jay-Z has also sold more than 125 million records and has a record number-one Billboard 200 albums. Mr. Carter is also the only living rapper Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoree, and the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Jay-Z also excels entrepreneurially. With multi-million-dollar businesses like his clothing brand, Rocawear, and the 40/40 Club, a luxury sports bar chain. Success here spurred Roc-Nation, Jov’s entertainment company. As an investor, he acquired Aspiro, a technology company along with Tidal. Carter started a cannabinoid line, Monogram, in 2020. With a net worth of $1.4 billion, Mr, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter is living proof of self-determination and hard work. 

Source: Wikipedia

Michael J. Jordan 

With a net worth of $1.6 billion, Mr. Michael Jeffrey Jordan is an African American billionaire in his own right. Jordan is most widely known for his time as a professional basketball player in the NBA. Easily heralded as the greatest of all time, Mr. Jordan entered the basketball limelight at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he played from 1981 until he was drafted into the NBA in 1984. Jordan found his first professional home with the Chicago Bulls where he won each of his 6 NBA championships. MJ also played for the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003. 

Jordan capitalized on his basketball super fame through a partnership with Nike, which led to the creation of the signature shoe line Air Jordan. The shoes were so culturally impactful and popular that Nike eventually created the Jordan Brand division. Jordan’s media presence ranged from brand partnerships with companies like Coca-Cola, McDonald's and, his time with the Looney Tunes cartoon characters and eventual Space Jam movie.

In 2014, MJ achieved billionaire status after acquiring more stake in the Charlotte Hornets team. Mr. Jordan is the first NBA player to do so. Jordan also owns part of the MLB team Miami Marlins. Jordan’s other business ventures include ownership of an automotive group, restaurants, and a golf course. His investments include a stake in DraftKings. Mr. Jordan has also written 4 books.

In addition to his business ventures, MJ prioritizes giving back including via the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. In 2006, Jordan and his wife donated $5 million to the Hales Franciscan High School located in Chicago, IL. More recently in 2020, Jordan made a joint statement with the Jordan Brand to pledge $100 million over the next decade in response to protests of Mr. George Floyd’s murder.

Organizations that are dedicated to “ensuring racial equality, social justice and greater access to education” will be receiving the funds. Jordan also started two Michael Jordan Family Clinics in North Carolina with a contribution of $10 million. 

Source: Wikipedia

Kanye West "Ye"

Born Kayne West, Ye is an African American artist, record producer, fashion designer. Ye was born in Atlanta and raised in Chicago. He started in the music industry as a music producer for Roc-A-Fella Records. West, known for his unique sampling sound and dropped his debut album in 2004, The College Dropout. Mr. West eventually launched his own record label called GOOD Music. Since his start in music, Yeezy has dropped 10 studio albums and 3 collaboration albums with Jay-Z, Kid Cudi, and Sunday Service Choir.

While West is famous for his outspoken opinions, Kanye is an incredible artist. Inspired by greats like A Tribe Called Quest, Michael Jackson, and Stevie Wonder, Ye was heavily mentored by No I.D., a Chicago producer. West expanded his talents to the fashion industry. In 2021, he became the first non-athlete to secure a shoe deal with Nike, Air Yeezys. Ye has also collaborated with Louis Vuitton, Bape, and Giuseppe Zanotti. In 2013, Kanye solidified a shoe deal with Adidas for the Yeezy Boosts. With a net worth of $1.8 billion, Ye is a formidable force for the culture.

Source: Wikipedia

Oprah Winfrey

Since the mid-1980s, Ms. Oprah Gail Winfrey has been dominating American television with her self-titled talk show. As the Queen of All Media, Oprah was the long-time sole Black billionaire in the world. The Oprah Winfrey Show ran nationally for a record 25 years breaking all sorts of records as the highest-rated TV show.

Ms. Winfrey got her start in mass communications early with a job at a local radio station in Nashville. At the age of 19, Oprah was a local evening news co-anchor. She then transitioned to daytime television in Chicago with great success. Eventually, she launched her own production company, Harpo Productions, where she currently serves as Chairwoman and CEO. In 2011, Ms. Winfrey launched the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and serves as Chairwoman, CEO, and CCO.

Following her nearly three decades on television, Ms. Winfrey began focusing on her power of influence through self-improvement, spirituality, and mindfulness. Winfrey famously wielded her influence politically in favor of Mr. Barack Obama during the 2008 presidential election. Obama later awarded Winfrey with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. Oprah’s list of accolades includes 18 Daytime Emmys, two primetime Emmys, a Tony, a Peabody, National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee, and two honorary doctorates from Duke University and Harvard University.

The world has always known Oprah as a giver. Her “you get a car and you get a car” mindset makes her one of the most generous African Americans. From 1998 to 2010, Ms. Winfrey used Oprah’s Angel Network to support global nonprofits and charitable programs. 100% of the funds went to programming as the administrative costs were covered by Oprah herself. Following Hurricane Katrina, Oprah gave $10 million to support recovery and relocation efforts; she also raised $11 million to support relief. Winfrey’s passions extend to education. She gave Morehouse Men more than 400 scholarships. Oprah also donated $12 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Ms. Winfrey has also been very active in South Africa focusing on children impacted by AIDS and poverty. Oprah used her show to raise more than $7 million. Winfrey eventually founded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2007. With a net worth of $2.6 billion, Ms. Oprah Gail Winfrey is a shining example of the power of generosity.

Source: Wikipedia

Tyler Perry

Mr. Tyler Perry is a masterful genius who is both an actor, director, screenwriter, and producer. He has garnered worldwide success with America’s favorite character, Madea. Perry’s catalog of live stage plays and films make for a unique style that is all his own. From Tyler Perry’s House of Payne to The Haves and the Have Nots, Mr. Perry has had incredible television success. From the stage to TV to the box office, Tyler has created and starred in some of the culture’s best movies including Daddy’s Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married?, and the classic Madea’s Family Reunion. Perry shines in the box office with films grossing in the multi-million dollar range. As of 2011, Mr. Perry’s cinematic catalog had cashed in globally over $500 million. 

Tyler has also partnered with OWN for many of his television series beginning in 2012. While at OWN, Perry’s show The Haves and the Have Nots broke records for the network.

Expanding his empire again, Tyler purchased the site of a former Confederate army base in the Atlanta area to give his production company a proper home. On the 330-acre tract, Perry changed the game bringing capital, wealth, and job opportunities to the Atlanta community. Now one of the largest film studios, Mr. Perry is only the second African American to do so. Home to projects like The Walking Dead and Black Panther, Tyler Perry Studios is a force to be reckoned with. 

In 2017, Perry cemented a major deal with ViacomCBS in conjunction with the formation of BET+, a new streaming service. The deal includes exclusive rights to The Oval and Sistas. Not only is Tyler a visual creative, he is also a two-time New York Times Best-Selling author. With a net worth of $1 billion, Perry has shown the world the power of mastering a craft and overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Source: Wikipedia, TylerPerry.com