The Million Dollar Question (about Millionaires)

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, I often look around at all the fabulous homes, nice cars, and private jets and think to myself, “How can there be so many wealthy people concentrated in one place?” If you drive down many streets in Burlingame, Hillsborough, Woodside, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, they’re lined with multimillion dollar homes. It’s almost “normal.”

This always brings me to the questions of who are these people and what do they do? Or more specifically, what did they do to become so successful? Not in a specific job type of way, but what are the general trends?

Statistically, I think it’d be interesting to know how the wealthy in the Bay Area got to where they are (not in a specific way, but what general trends are there).

The press makes it seem like each of these homes is filled with a founder of the latest startup from Pinterest or Instagram or CEOs/founders of established companies like Facebook, Google or Oracle.

But I suspect that’s not actually the case. There are only so many successful startups, and only so many CEOs of big companies. Who are the rest of the neighbors on the street?

I’ve read some articles ( that say:

Only 16% of high-net-worth individuals inherited their stash, according to Capgemini. The most common way to get rich is to start a business: nearly half (47%) of the world's wealthy people are entrepreneurs. Another 23% of the world's millionaires got rich through paid work, estimates Capgemini.

But that’s for the whole world...does it also apply locally to the Bay Area?

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