However Bill Gates, who headed the Fortune 500 list, was toppled by Mexican telecom heavyweight Carlos Slim Helu, whose $53.5bn personal fortune edged ahead of the Microsoft founder's paltry $53bn.
The software sector still seems to be the place to make some big money, with Oracle's jet-set owner Larry Ellison worth $28bn in 2009 as his firm's shares soared 70% in the year, while Microsoft's Steve Ballmer also put in a strong showing, with $14.5bn to his name, and salesforce.com chief Marc Benioff saw his fortune rise to $1.3bn due to a 30% rally in his firm's stock.
Another benefactor of the software market was Azim Premji, chairman of software firm Wipro, whose wealth flew up $11bn to $17bn.
In hardware, Michael Dell upped his net worth by $1.2bn to $13.5bn, thanks to investments outside of his PC firm, which has overhauled its entire business model in the last two years to turn around flagging sales.
Ten years after the dotcom crash, Internet entrepreneurs also put in a strong showing, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page saw their net value swell $5.5bn to $17.5bn each; the search giant has diversified into SaaS, mobile operating systems and social networking and is trying to corner the market in pretty much any sector it can think of.
Other big names on the list included Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, worth $12.3bn, up $5.5bn last year, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar added $1.6bn to his personal fortune, taking his total wealth to $5.2bn as company shares went up 115%. The world's youngest billionaire, 25 year-old Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg, re-entered the Forbes list, with $4bn in the bank.