Another Path to a Billion

Did you hear the news? Bill Gates is no longer the world's richest man. That distinction, once again, belongs to Warren Buffett.

But little else has changed in a new Forbes list of the globe's wealthiest. Entrepreneurship is still the surest path to riches.

Oh, to be an owner
Look at the top 10. How many entrepreneurs are there? Five! America Movil (NYSE: AMX  ) chief Carlos Slim Helu is second, Gates is third, Ikea's Ingvar Kamprad is seventh, Russian Aluminum's Oleg Deripaska is ninth, and Karl Albrecht, founder of German supermarket Aldi, is 10th.

Dozens more owners can be found among the remaining 1,115. Italy's Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder of Luxottica Group (NYSE: LUX  ) , is 77th with $10.0 billion. Hasso Plattner, cofounder of German software maker SAP (NYSE: SAP  ) , is 189th with $5.4 billion. Aussie media mogul Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. (NYSE: NWS  ) is 109th with $8.3 billion. And Intel's (Nasdaq: INTC  ) big brain, Gordon Moore, is 288th with $3.7 billion.

Invest with owners
Feeling envious? I don't blame you. Wouldn't it be great if we were all billionaires, unencumbered by the need for money? Of course it would be. But that's not how the world works.

Still, I find it reassuring that, as rich as Gates and Buffett are, the bulk of their wealth is as a result of staying invested in the companies that brought them to the billionaires' ball. Why? Because anyone with a brokerage account could have enjoyed similar percentage gains.

In fact, many did. So great is the story of Microsoft's ability to generate wealth that it has a name -- the uprising of the so-called "Microsoft millionaires." At least hundreds of them must still exist. A $1,000 investment in Mr. Softy at the dawn of 1990, four years after his debut on the Nasdaq, would be worth roughly $55,000 today.

Searching for the next Microsoft
That's why Motley Fool Hidden Gems co-advisors Seth Jayson and Bill Mann focus on the stocks of up-and-coming firms in which the managers own a significant stake. Some of their best performers still feature meaningful insider ownership.

Consider Hurco Companies (Nasdaq: HURC  ) . This industrial technology specialist made its way onto the scorecard in January and has been one of the market's rare outperformers since. Yet Fools weren't the only ones to profit -- insiders still own close to 5% of the business.

So, don't envy the billionaire owners. Invest alongside them. They're the ones who really have the best chance to create the next Microsoft, and make you millions in the process. Want help identifying promising prospects? Click here to join Hidden Gems free for 30 days.

This article was originally published on Oct. 12, 2006. It has been updated.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Intel and Microsoft are active picks for Inside Value. Hurco is a Hidden Gems pick. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy always takes ownership.

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