The Boston Billionaires Club

A billion dollars sure is a lot of money. How 24 of the deepest pockets in town are shaping the city—and our lives.

Card Design by Benjamen Purvis

Stunning wealth is nothing new to Boston. In fact, it’s been part of the city’s fabric for centuries. The Cabots and the Lowells preceded Fidelity’s Johnson clan, and the Patriots-owning Kraft dynasty has nothing on surnames such as Saltonstall, Forbes, Gardner, Wigglesworth, Amory, and Perkins. What is new is the growth of individual riches in this city, and how the folks who have money got it.

Today’s local billionaires, in fact, are the farthest thing from your Brahmin ancestor’s merchant magnates. Most didn’t have the benefit of family wealth. Several are immigrants or first-generation Americans. And the number of members in the city’s most exclusive club has only increased over the past few years, in lockstep with global trends: The world’s population of three-comma-net-worth individuals expanded during the pandemic, with the U.S. alone closing in on 1,000 of them, according to Wealth-X, an Altrata company, which maintains a proprietary collection of research on the well-to-do. To come up with the roster of 24 names you’ll find on this list, we partnered with Wealth-X to identify those they consider billionaires and we consider Bostonians.

Twenty-four billionaires in a city of nearly 700,000 might not seem like that many. But the ever-increasing concentration of money—roughly $85 billion at press time—among the Hub’s wealthiest is a striking trend, particularly as the skyrocketing cost of living shines a spotlight on our ever-widening wealth gap. Consider that Boston ranks among the top 10 cities for income inequality in the nation, with our highest-earning households earning a whopping 15 times more than the lowest-earning households in 2016.

At least the city isn’t yet home to any “super billionaires”: the 20 individuals who have a net worth of at least $50 billion and collectively hold a stunning 17 percent of all billionaire wealth. In fact, Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson, with some $20 billion, and Patriots CEO Robert Kraft, with $10.6 billion, are the only Bostonians to top $10 billion, or to even come close to that 11th digit.

Just a word about wealth estimates: They fluctuate. Wealth-X did not provide them, and it’s worth using caution when considering figures from Forbes, Bloomberg, and others. That’s because the recent wild fluctuations of the stock market, real estate, and even cryptocurrency quickly render any dollar figure placed on assets obsolete. Moderna’s Stéphane Bancel, for instance, was reported last autumn to be worth more than $12 billion; this spring, the figure cited was $4 billion. Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company, debuted on the Forbes 400 list in 2020, thanks to the soaring value of shares in his company. The value of those shares has since plummeted, and Wealth-X does not consider him a billionaire.

Regardless of individual net worth, the one thing this group of deep-pocketed Bostonians does have in common with the Brahmins of yore is their commitment to carrying on the community-oriented examples of the barons who gave us the MFA, Mass General, and WGBH. Today’s billionaires are not only supporting many of those same institutions but are also transforming the region with new buildings and developments, making medical breakthroughs, and backing more contemporary efforts to promote equity and racial justice.

In other words, they affect the quality of our lives in ways big and small every day. We’ve relied on them to put together a good Pats team, create a new neighborhood and rail station in Brighton, and preserve our hometown newspaper and baseball team. And that certainly makes it worth knowing a little about them.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Abigail Johnson

Chairman and CEO, Fidelity

Age: 60

Lives In: Milton

How She Made It: It’s the classic story of a multigenerational family business: Grandpa started the company, Dad grew it into a big success, and Abby spent years learning and working her way up through its ranks. It so happens that the family business is one of the world’s largest financial service firms, and Abby owns a quarter of the stock.

How She’s an Ordinary Person: By all accounts, Johnson just likes to stay home with her husband, healthcare entrepreneur Christopher McKown.

How She’s Not an Ordinary Person: She lost an estimated $10 billion of personal wealth over the course of four months this past winter, according to Bloomberg. She’s already recovered most of that, and that publication believes Johnson is currently worth roughly
$20 billion.

She Uses Her Money for Good When She: Supports arts, education, and youth development. The Johnson family has a reputation for very generous philanthropy, which Abby is said to continue. She is, of course, a director of the mammoth Fidelity Foundation, which has well over a billion dollars in assets and hands out some $50 million a year in grants.

Signature Look: Those iconic heavy-rimmed glasses, although she has said that she goes unrecognized on the sidewalks of Boston.

Fun Things She Owns: A five-bedroom, 5,500-square-foot seaside cottage on Nantucket’s Brant Point, bought for $9 million and currently assessed at more than $16 million.

Her Politics: Johnson has made campaign contributions to candidates on both sides of the aisle, often to moderates. Not usually a major giver (for her wealth bracket), she did open her wallet to give $220,000 to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election campaign after her preferred candidate, Jeb Bush, dropped out.

Why She Flies Under the Radar: Johnson maintains—and even exceeds—her father and grandfather’s tradition of excessive privacy, especially regarding the news media. (Although she has started to grant some industry interviews over the past couple of years.)

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Robert Kraft

Chairman and CEO, Kraft Group

Age: 81
Lives In: Brookline

How He Made It: First, he married well. Then, after expanding his in-laws’ packaging business, he parlayed that into ownership of a football stadium, which he used as leverage to eventually buy the team playing there. He then turned the New England Patriots into one of the world’s most valuable sports franchises: Forbes estimates the team is worth $5 billion of Kraft’s overall $10.6 billion net worth.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Just watch him in the owner’s box—he goes through every emotion you do during a Pats game.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Kraft gets his pal Elton John to play at his private parties—and attends John’s parties in Hollywood.

Superstar Moment: Early in the COVID crisis, with personal protective equipment in short supply, Kraft used the Patriots team plane to fly in 1.2 million N95 masks from China.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Supports community health—and a host of other causes and institutions—through the Kraft Family Foundation.

Signature Look: Blue jacket, red tie, sneakers.

Fun Things He Owns: The New England Revolution and six Lombardi trophies.

His Politics: His close connection with Donald Trump has been the headlining story, but Kraft actually tends to give more of his money to Democrats than Republicans.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Jim Davis

Owner and chairman, New Balance

Age: 79
Lives In: Newton

How He Made It: Manufacturing shoes and athletic apparel. He was still in his twenties when he purchased the 66-year-old New Balance shoe company for $100,000 on the day of the Boston Marathon in 1972. Just in time for the running craze of the mid-1970s, Davis introduced new styles and increased capacity, and the rest, as they say, is history. Although he stepped down as CEO in 2007, he has kept the company private, and he and his wife, Anne, remain chairman and vice chair.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He couldn’t cut it as a pre-med student. Davis studied biology at Middlebury College until he was told that perhaps his talents lay elsewhere.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Davis, who Forbes estimates is a four-times-over billionaire, has been dubbed “The richest Greek on the planet.”

His Fingerprints on the City: Davis almost single-handedly created a new Boston neighborhood, Boston Landing, around the headquarters he opened there in 2015. It has the Celtics’ training facility, an ice rink, a concert hall, a commuter-rail station, office and lab space, and very little of the desolate landscape many of us remember.

Fun Things He Owns: A growing real estate empire in Gloucester, including his $3 million Bay View summer home and the $25 million Beauport Hotel.

His Politics: Davis is a GOP bankroller, having supported both Mitt Romney and Donald Trump. In last year’s nonpartisan Boston mayoral election, he spent more than a million dollars trying to get Annissa Essaibi George elected.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

John Henry

Founder and principal owner, Fenway Sports Group

Age: 73
Lives In: Brookline

How He Made It: Commodities trading, then hedge fund management, and now sports ownership has allowed Henry to amass what Forbes says is a $4 billion fortune.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: As a teenager, Henry played guitar in a prog-rock band.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Henry and his wife—Boston Globe CEO Linda Pizzuti Henry—host an elaborate, themed summer solstice party at their Brookline home for the locally rich and fabulous every year.

Good Luck Charm: Did Henry break the Curse of the Bambino? One could certainly make the argument, given that the Red Sox won the World Series just two years after he bought the team.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Gives to healthcare and educational charities through his family foundation, including BostonSight, Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, the Meadowbrook School in Weston, and the Fessenden School in West Newton.

Signature Look: Everybody in Red Sox Nation knows Henry’s dark-rimmed, rectangular glasses.

Fun Things He Owns: The Boston Globe and a Daytona 500–winning racing group. Also, a fabulous 35,000-square-foot home in Brookline—on the previous site of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt’s much smaller place, which Henry tore down after buying the property in 2007.

His Politics: He has mostly steered clear of politics, with the exception of supporting the 2004 presidential candidacy of Red Sox devotee John Kerry.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Amos Hostetter Jr.

Chairman, Pilot House Associates

Age: 85
Lives In: Beacon Hill

How He Made It: Hostetter established a company in 1963 with his college buddy Irv Grousbeck—now co-owner of the Boston Celtics with his son, Wyc—on the belief that TV viewers wanted more options. Over time, Continental Cablevision became the third-largest cable-television provider in the country, eventually selling in 1996 for more than $5 billion. He is currently worth a little more than $3 billion, according to Forbes.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He’s constantly trying to protect his properties from New England’s unforgiving climate—although, in his case, that has meant spending millions trying to forestall the collapse of his Nantucket home on Sconset Bluff.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Hostetter lives in the Beacon Hill house built in 1800 by then-U.S. Representative Harrison Gray Otis, one of the wealthiest Bostonians of the time.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Supports education, arts, and, most recently, climate initiatives through the Barr Foundation, chaired by his wife, Barbara, and assessed to have a stunning $2 billion in assets.

His Politics: Hostetter and Barbara are longtime high-dollar Democratic donors, contributing millions in the 2020 election cycle alone.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Ted Alfond

Former executive vice president, Dexter Shoes

Age: 78
Lives In: Weston

How He Made It: Through the worst deal Warren Buffett ever made—according to Buffett himself. Ted’s father, Harold Alfond, built a successful shoe business in an old Maine wool mill. In 1993, when Ted was an executive with the company, Harold sold it to an overeager Warren Buffett for 25,000 shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock—worth $439 million then and around $10 billion in 2022. Alfond is worth an estimated $2.3 billion today, according to Forbes.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He enjoys spending his summers on a Maine lake.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: With his wife, Barbara, Alfond is considered one of the country’s premier art collectors. They maintain a major contemporary collection at their alma mater, Rollins College, in Winter Park, Florida. Closer to home, you can visit the Alford Auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Promotes education, healthcare, and youth development, mostly through the Harold Alfond Foundation.

Fun Things He Owns: The oldest house in Weston, dating to the 17th century. Also, a slice of the Boston Red Sox.

Why He Flies Under the Radar: The Dexter Shoes brand, the origin of his fortune, ceased production 20 years ago.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Frank Laukien

President, Chairman, and CEO, Bruker

Age: 62
Lives In: The Back Bay

How He Made It: By growing his father’s scientific instruments company, along with his three siblings. The company’s high-tech equipment does everything from magnetic field research to greenhouse gas measurement. Laukien’s share of Bruker is a major part of his wealth, estimated at more than $2 billion.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Laukien’s interest in anti-cancer research is especially meaningful, as his pioneering physicist father, Günther Laukien, died of cancer in 1997.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: He once paid his own brother nearly $20 million for a million shares of his stock in Bruker.

Innovations: Laukien is cofounding a new endeavor, the Galileo Project, to hunt for extraterrestrial technologies traveling or floating through space.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Leads major anti-cancer efforts, including the American Association for Cancer Research’s Cancer Evolution Working Group.

His Politics: Not historically a huge political donor, Laukien has contributed to Republican Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Republican Party in general.

Why He Flies Under the Radar: Born in Stuttgart, Germany, and educated at MIT and Harvard, Laukien mostly keeps his head down, working on cutting-edge scientific initiatives rather than running up impressive wine tabs at the city’s finest restaurants.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Robert Langer

Institute Professor, Langer Lab, MIT

Age: 73
Lives In: Newton

How He Made It: Over the course of an extraordinary career in scientific research. Having founded or invested in many companies, including Moderna, Langer has been called “the Edison of biomedical engineering.” He came to prefer startups because he found Big Pharma companies frustratingly slow in developing his ideas.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He is fascinated by magic and does tricks for classes and presentations (see: the TikTok of him pulling a very, very long series of colored papers from his mouth).

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: In addition to an estimated net worth of nearly $2 billion, he has more than 1,400 patents issued or pending.

Innovations: Where to start? His research has led to advances in treating brain cancer, reversing paralysis, and much more.

Fun Things He Owns: A prestigious Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, for which Langer and his wife, Laura, got to hang out with the late royal and her family.

Why You May Not Have Heard of Him: He spends his time hunkered down at his beloved MIT with his students and his research.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Herb Chambers

Owner, Herb Chambers Companies

Age: 80
Lives In: The Back Bay

How He Made It: Selling more than $2 billion worth of cars a year—which is, coincidentally, his estimated net worth, according to Forbes.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He grew up in a two-family house in Dorchester.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Chambers builds cutting-edge luxury yachts (all named Excellence), which he then sells before starting on the next one.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Supports well-known Boston-area nonprofits—including Mass Eye and Ear, the Boston Foundation, and Camp Harbor View—through his charitable foundation.

Signature Look: Tortoiseshell glasses and slicked-back hair, at work or out and about with his longtime girlfriend, Melissa Lees.

His Politics: Although Chambers has frequently supported local Democrats—including Ed Markey and Lori Trahan—he used to write his biggest checks to the national and Massachusetts Republican Party committees. That changed in 2020, when he funded Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Noubar Afeyan

Founder and CEO, Flagship Pioneering

Age: 60
Lives In: Lexington

How He Made It: Born in Lebanon and educated in Canada, Afeyan has helped found dozens of life sciences companies since getting his Ph.D. from MIT in 1987 for biochemical engineering. One of them is Moderna, which struck gold with a COVID-19 vaccine in 2020, pushing his net worth to an estimated $2 billion, according to Forbes.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Afeyan is a die-hard Boston Celtics fan.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: George Clooney is on the selection committee for an award program Afeyan cofounded, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Works to support Armenia, from which his family hails. That includes donating a large sum toward a building for the St. Stephen’s Armenian Elementary School in Watertown and co-founding the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology.

Signature Look: He’s seldom seen without a dark blazer; rarely, however, with a tie.

His Politics: Not a big political donor, Afeyan has given almost exclusively to Democrats.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

John Fish

Chairman and CEO, Suffolk Construction Co.

Age: 62
Lives In: The Back Bay

How He Made It: Fish joined his father’s construction business after college and built it into a multibillion-dollar national behemoth. Encore Boston Harbor? He built that. Millennium Tower, the BU “stack of books” computing center, Four Seasons One Dalton Street…yeah, he built those, too. He is worth just over $1 billion, primarily from the estimated value of his company.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Fish is known to be unfailingly gracious: He sends prompt thank-you notes and often ends phone calls by asking, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: For PR maven George Regan’s Cape Cod wedding this summer, Fish graciously provided his refurbished tugboat, the SS Lollipop, to ferry the bride, Elizabeth Akeley, to her groom and officiant Charlie Baker.

Taking the Lead: There hardly seems to be a significant board in Boston that Fish hasn’t served on, if not chaired: Massachusetts Competitive Partnership, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Brigham Health, Boston College, and the list goes on.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Donates to Brigham and Women’s Hospital: John and his wife, Cynthia, have given nearly $20 million to the institution over the years, including $2.5 million to start a COVID-19 caregivers’ initiative.

Signature Look: He’s never seen without a tie on, even at the ridiculously early hour he is said to start working.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Seth Klarman

CEO, Baupost Group

Age: 65
Lives In: Chestnut Hill

How He Made It: At age 25, one of Klarman’s Harvard Business School professors invited him to join a new investment management firm, Baupost Group. He was soon bringing 20 percent annual returns to wealthy clients, amassing a personal fortune now estimated at $1.5 billion in the process.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Klarman met his wife, Beth, on a Boston Harbor cruise. He coached his daughters’ soccer teams.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Legendary football coach Bill Parcells once cited Klarman’s Margin of Safety as the last book he’d read.

Giving from the Heart: After his daughter suffered from an eating disorder, Klarman wrote a $2.5 million check for a treatment center at McLean Hospital, in addition to providing grants for scientific research on anorexia nervosa. This was through the Klarman Family Foundation, which has more than half a billion dollars in assets. The Klarmans are also supporters of Israel and Jewish philanthropies.

Signature Look: Klarman is recognizable in his glasses and trimmed beard.

Fun Things He Owns: Two Preakness-winning horses.

His Politics: He’s a longtime Republican, described as fiscally conservative and socially liberal—but so anti-Trump that he has shifted from a major GOP donor to an even bigger Democratic one in recent years, including giving thousands to Democratic state parties from Arizona to Florida.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Arthur Winn

Founder, WinnCompanies

Age: 83
Lives In: Brookline

How He Made It: Steered toward real estate by a Harvard Business School professor, in 1971 Winn stepped into the emerging field of government-subsidized affordable housing and grew one of the biggest companies in the business. His legacy of buildings—mostly for low-income residents—maintain their daily presence in Boston, throughout the region, and in 23 states across the country.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: According to friends, Winn can recite extensive scenes from his favorite films: The Godfather trilogy.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: As a student at the University of Massachusetts, he launched a business selling formal wear for fraternity functions—which he soon expanded to include corsage sales. fingerprints on the city: Winn’s company transformed Boston’s Mission Main property into a national model for low-cost public housing. He has earned praise throughout his career for developing affordable housing that becomes a part of the community, rather than cookie-cutter barracks-style structures.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Gives to Jewish organizations and causes, among other philanthropic activities.

Fun Things He Owns: Red Sox season tickets behind home plate.

His Politics: Winn has been a Republican supporter for decades, but has mostly donated to Democrats in recent election cycles.

Why He Flies Under the Radar: His friend and fellow philanthropist Lenny Zakim got a bridge named for him; he didn’t.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Stéphane Bancel

CEO, Moderna

Age: 50
Lives In: Beacon Hill

How He Made It: In 2011, not yet 40 years old, the France native was hired to run an ambitious Cambridge startup that was trying to use messenger RNA (mRNA) technology to produce new types of medicine. When that company brought forward a successful COVID-19 vaccine, Bancel’s already valuable shares in the company soared; he’s now worth $4.6 billion, according to Forbes.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Bancel credits his success to being raised and taught by Jesuits.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Earlier this year, he was made a chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur—a knight, essentially, and France’s highest meritorious honor.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Funds Boston-area community-focused charities through the Bancel Foundation. His wife, Brenda, who studied at Harvard’s Divinity School, recently launched a second foundation called Champions of Love. And that’s all before the couple announced this year that they will exercise hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of stock options—and sell them all, giving the money to charity.

Signature Look: Bancel is usually seen in rimless glasses, tailored suits, and a buzz cut.

Why You May Not Have Heard of Him: For years, Bancel toiled quietly—secretively, some say—to turn the promise of mRNA vaccines into a real, tested product. Clearly, it was a success.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Joshua Bekenstein

Cochair, Bain Capital

Age: 64
Lives In: Wayland

How He Made It: Bekenstein was one of the original people from Bain & Company chosen by founder Bill Bain and partner Mitt Romney to start Bain Capital, which became one of the most successful investment firms in the country. Much of his wealth comes from his holdings in companies that Bain Capital bought over the years, including the Bright Horizons childcare company, Waters Corp., Burlington stores, and Michaels.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Backs climate change awareness and mitigation efforts along with his wife, Anita. Bekenstein has also funded New Profit, a nonprofit that supports “breakthrough social entrepreneurs who are advancing equity and opportunity,” especially Black, indigenous, and Latinx grantees who are often overlooked by philanthropists.

All in Good Fun: As a young man, he and other Bain Capital founders goofed around during a photo shoot, taking a picture with dollar bills in their hands and mouths. Unfortunately, the photo was widely seen years later when the young man in front of Bekenstein—Mitt Romney—was a candidate for president.

Fun Things He Owns: When the Bekensteins get the itch to leave their 10,000-square-foot home in Wayland (with stables and a tennis court), they can stretch out at their $18 million house on 14 beachfront acres on Nantucket.

His Politics: The couple are huge funders of Democratic and liberal candidates and committees.

Why He Flies Under the Radar: Bekenstein has never craved attention, leaving the spotlight to his former boss, Mitt Romney, and current cochair, Steve Pagliuca.

Illustration by Joe McKendry

Niraj Shah

Cofounder, Wayfair

Age: 48
Lives In: The Back Bay

How He Made It: The son of immigrants from India, Shah attended public high school in Pittsfield before meeting his future business partner, Steve Conine, at Cornell University. The two eventually went on to create the multibillion-dollar online home furniture store Wayfair. They are each worth an estimated $1.5 billion.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He furnishes his home with Wayfair purchases, of course.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Shah sat on the board of the Boston Fed, was once on Fortune magazine’s “40 under 40” list, and has been Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year.” He and his wife, Jill, have also purchased seven adjacent properties at Little Parker’s Pond in the Osterville Village section of Barnstable to develop into a family compound.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Helps fund public education and healthcare access through the Shah Family Foundation, primarily run by Jill. Although it just launched in 2017, the organization is quickly becoming an influential player in Boston.

Signature Look: Round, clear-framed glasses and a slightly graying beard.

His Politics: Shah has given extensively to Democrats nationally, including six-figure contributions to support Joe Biden in 2020.

Timothy Springer

Investor and immunologist, Harvard Medical School

Age: 74
Lives In: Newton

How He Made It: After several other investment successes—he reportedly made $100 million from an earlier drug-development startup, LeukoSite—Springer was approached by a colleague for advice on raising capital for a new company. Springer put in $5 million himself, which turned into $400 million by the time that company, Moderna, went public in 2018. Now he’s worth more than $2 billion, according to Forbes.

Other wins: Springer has helped create treatments for cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, and more. He also cofounded (and funded) the Institute for Protein Innovation located at Harvard Medical School, which is designing synthetic antibodies for potential scientific research.

Signature Look: Casual. Known to bicycle to work in jeans, Springer recently conducted a Zoom interview with this magazine from his office while wearing a white T-shirt.

Fun Things He Owns: He collected several large gongshi rocks from China, one a massive 23 tons, to decorate the home he built in Newton.

His Politics: After supporting Barack Obama in 2008, Springer had no record of political giving until the 2020 election cycle, when he contributed to Jake Auchincloss in his local district’s congressional race. Auchincloss’s parents are both prominent alumni of Harvard Medical School.

Why He Flies Under the Radar: Noubar Afeyan and Stéphane Bancel have gotten most of the Moderna media attention.

Terry Ragon

Founder and CEO, InterSystems

Age: 73
Lives In: Cambridge

How He Made It: Way back in 1978, Ragon launched a company to produce data-management software for banks and hospitals. More than 40 years later, InterSystems continues to thrive as a privately held company, with Ragon as CEO and his wife, Susan, as VP.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He and Susan ran their first Boston Marathon as “bandits”—without credentials—in 1993.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: The couple just spent a reported $93 million to buy three beachfront properties—two of which were not officially on the market—to build a new Florida home.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Gives to Mass General, including $100 million for AIDS research. And that’s not all: The Ragons have taken the “Giving Pledge” to give away the majority of their money—which totals nearly $2 billion—through philanthropy.

His Politics: The Ragons have contributed more than $6.5 million over the years, almost all to Democrats or Democrat-supporting committees. This spring, Ragon gave a cool million to the committee working to keep the Democrats’ majority status in the U.S. Senate.

Why He Flies Under the Radar: InterSystems is almost obsessive about being Boston’s quietest major corporation—something that’ll become much more difficult when it moves into its new 420,000-square-foot space at the new One Congress Tower.

Steve Conine

Cofounder, Wayfair

Age: 50
Lives In: The South End

How He Made It: Partnering in entrepreneurship with Niraj Shah.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Conine can often be spotted riding his bicycle around Boston.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: He competes worldwide in mountain-bike races.

Innovations: Conine has been trying for years to create an AI-driven augmented-reality shopping experience for Wayfair customers.

He Doesn’t Need His Name in Lights: He and Shah recently gave $10 million to build a new computing and information science building at their alma mater, Cornell University—but the building will be named for Apple exec Ann Bowers, not themselves.

Fun Things He Owns: A brass-and-copper clock that he made himself, among other handcrafted pieces.

His Politics: Conine’s largest contributions have been to the national and state GOP, but he’s also given to some local Democrats—including Deval Patrick during his brief 2020 presidential campaign.

Alan Trefler

CEO, Pegasystems

Age: 66
Lives In: Brookline

How He Made It: The software company he launched at age 27 (with a helpful loan from his mother) is doing more than $1 billion in annual revenue some 40 years later—with him still running it and owning about half the shares.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: Trefler enjoys an occasional game of good old-fashioned Ping-Pong.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: He achieved chess-master status and won a world chess championship while still in college.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Helps kids in underserved communities succeed by supporting STEM education and healthcare needs. He and his wife, Pam, created the Trefler Foundation in large part to tackle the inequities she observed while teaching math at Dorchester High School (they later gifted $1 million to the school).

Signature Look: He sports a well-trimmed beard that he’s worn since college and prefers a casual jeans-and-polo-shirt getup.

Elizabeth Johnson

Owner, Louisburg Farm

Age: 59
Lives In: Beacon Hill

How She Made It: Johnson owns roughly 5 percent of Fidelity, the investment management firm created by her grandfather and currently run by her sister Abigail.

How She’s an Ordinary Person: Johnson is constantly being judged in relation to her supposedly more accomplished sibling.

How She’s Not an Ordinary Person: Fidelity created a new investment firm, Volition Capital, for Johnson’s husband, Rob Ketterson, to be a founding partner of.

She Uses Her Money for Good When She: Makes considerable charitable contributions directly and via her family’s Edward C. Johnson Fund. She also donates to Boston’s Society of Arts & Crafts.

Fun Things She Owns: An equestrian training facility in Wellington, Florida, named Louisburg Farm, after the tony square where she resides in Boston. When the farm held a fundraiser for U.S. Olympic equestrian teams, Bruce Springsteen—whose daughter is an equestrian competitor—cochaired the event and played an impromptu set on a Fender guitar being auctioned off.

Why She Flies Under the Radar: Beth is the Johnson sibling least involved in the family business. She is also the least wealthy, according to Forbes, hovering above the $5 billion line this summer.

Edward Johnson IV

President, Pembroke Real Estate

Age: 57
Where He Lives: The North End

How He Made It: As the brother of Fidelity chief Abigail Johnson, Ed IV owns roughly 5 percent of the huge investment management firm—and runs a subsidiary of the empire.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He majored in “recreational and leisure studies” at Northeastern University.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: He manages 2.2 million square feet at Seaport Place, which is owned by his real estate company, a branch of—surprise, surprise—Fidelity.

Signature Look: His cherubic red hair.

Why He Flies Under the Radar: Johnson, who is reportedly worth upward of $6 billion, is just as media-averse as his namesake father and grandfather, as well as his powerful sister Abigail. And without that top position at Fidelity, he has far fewer people trying to put him in the spotlight.

George Sakellaris

Chairman and CEO, Ameresco

Age: 76
Lives In: Milton

How He Made It: Sakellaris amassed a fortune in the 1980s and 1990s retrofitting other companies’ buildings for energy efficiency and getting paid out of their resulting savings. Now, with businesses looking for cleantech and renewable solutions, he’s making even more money—some $1.2 billion of revenue a year, with a net worth of about $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

How He’s an Ordinary Person: He worked his way through college in restaurants and grocery stores.

How He’s Not an Ordinary Person: Sakellaris enjoys racing Maxi 72 class sailing yachts, which carry a crew of around 15.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Supports the local Greek Orthodox community along with his wife, Cathy Papoulias-Sakellaris.

Fun Things He Owns: Proteus, the 2017 International Maxi Association’s Yacht of the Year.

His Politics: George and Cathy give mostly, but not exclusively, to Democrats.

James Pallotta

Founder, Raptor Group

Age: 64
Lives In: Weston

How He Made It: After growing up in the North End, Pallotta spent years running one of the city’s most successful hedge fund businesses out of Rowes Wharf—at one point, before the 2008 crash, reportedly earning up to $200 million a year.

Fun and Games: He reportedly participated in an annual $1 million fantasy football league with nine other rich guys.

He Uses His Money for Good When He: Shares his wealth with a wide range of local institutions, including Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Fun Thing He Owns: A 27,000-square-foot custom-built estate once dubbed “The House That Ate Weston” by this magazine, featuring a home theater, music room, basketball court, and one entire wing just for Pallotta’s two sons.

His Politics: Pallotta has a history of giving to Republicans, nationally and in Massachusetts.

Future Billionaires

They’re not on the list yet…but give them time.

Claire Hughes Johnson
Corporate officer and Adviser, Stripe

Age: 50
Lives in: Milton

Formerly the COO at Stripe, Johnson (no relation to the Fidelity Johnsons) is still one of the higher-ups at the wildly successful payment processing business, which ranks as one of the top-valued private companies of all time. This comes after a successful run with Google and an active side gig as an angel investor. An anticipated Stripe IPO might get her that 10th digit.

Carmichael Roberts
Founder and managing partner, Material Impact

Age: 54
Lives in: Brookline

A company-builder with a string of successes behind him, Roberts runs his own venture capital firm and participates in Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Ventures investment committee. You’ll also find him on a host of boards, corporate and nonprofit, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and WGBH.

Sam Slater
Managing partner, Tremont Asset Management

Age: 38
Lives in: The Back Bay

Slater has a large real estate portfolio, co-owns the Seattle Kraken NHL team, produces movies, and is behind a huge new development in Quincy. It’s not clear how far he is from his first billion, but at 38 years old, he has plenty of time to make up the gap.

Nancy Zimmerman
Cofounder and managing partner, Bracebridge Capital

Age: 59
Lives in: Newton

Forbes calls Zimmerman “one of the most successful female hedge fund founders in the U.S.,” and at this point, she’s just one of the most successful, period. Bracebridge manages more than $12 billion in assets, and her own net worth has been pegged at more than $700 million.

Demond Martin
Partner, Adage Capital Management

Age: 48
Lives in: Newton

Martin worked in the Clinton White House and now serves on the Obama Foundation’s board of directors, but his financial success comes from 20 years managing portfolios at Adage. Politically, socially, and philanthropically connected, Martin’s potential for billionaire status is sky-high.