Elizabeth Billington was a late 18th- early 19th century opera singer who, as the superstar diva of her era, earned close to £10,000 a year. Affluent but not superrich, Mrs.Billington had much less wealth than Lady Gaga.
Where are we going? To why Lady Gaga, (former) Yankee star shortstop Derek Jeter and JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon might all be superrich for the same reason.
Let’s start by identifying the top of the superrich through the Forbes 400.
Moving from the businesses to the people that run them, we can conclude that they did not inherit their billions:
Earning less than the Forbes 400 billionaires, sports superstars are among the superrich. According to WSJ, all who have assets that exceed $30 million are superrich.
So what do all of these super earners have in common? Technology.
Our Bottom Line: Technology
Commenting on the relatively low income for a superstar like Mrs.Billington, economist Alfred Marshall (1842-1924) said, “The number of persons who can be reached by a human voice is strictly limited.”
Not any more.
Think Charlie Chaplin. Between 1900 and 1938, the number of people who could enjoy one person’s talent had multiplied. In 1900, live performers dominated the entertainment industry while by 1938, Hollywood had taken over.
Similarly, Lady Gaga, Jeter, Jamie Dimon and Mark Zuckerberg each can use technology to optimize their livelihood. For finance, technology facilitates speed and volume, for athletes and entertainers, it connects them to a much larger audience, and with technology entrepreneurs have a global reach.