The founder and former CEO of Gateway has seen his company grow into a powerhouse. In 2000 -- when at age 37, he was worth an estimated $8.54 billion -- Waitt climbed to No. 2 on our list (after Michael Dell).
Gateway, like most other technology companies, struggled to stay afloat after the dot-com bust, cutting back production in hopes of turning a profit again. Eventually, in 2004, Gateway acquired low-cost PC-maker eMachines in an effort to save the company, and Waitt handed over day-to-day duties to eMachines CEO Wayne Inouye. Waitt left Gateway the following year and went on to found Avalon Capital Group, an investment company that specializes in technology, healthcare, media and entertainment.
Arguably though, Waitt is now best-known for his philanthropic work. The Waitt Family Foundation, his own nonprofit, has donated more than $100 million to community building,
violence prevention, and other causes.
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