Charles and David Koch transformed their father’s regional energy company into Koch Industries, the second-largest privately owned company in North America, with an annual revenue of $100 billion. Charles and David own 80 percent of it, making them some of the wealthiest people in the world.
- Net worth: Each brother is worth $51.7 billion
- Source of wealth: Energy, chemical processing, fertilizers
- Career highlight: Donating millions of dollars to conservative, libertarian institutions
Koch Brothers Net Worth: $103.4B
The Koch brothers’ net worth is a combined $103.4 billion, according to Forbes, adding up their individual net worths of $51.7 billion each. Much of their wealth comes from Koch Industries, which has colossal influence across a range of American markets.
The company’s biggest businesses include:
- Georgia-Pacific, which consists of plywood, lumber, and household brands like Brawny and Dixie
- Invista, which makes materials for products like bedding, airbags and backpacks
- Guardian Industries, which makes high-end glass and building materials
Koch Industries is also involved in the creation and distribution of technology, minerals and cattle. Flint Hills Resources, the company’s fuel production company, is America’s fifth-largest ethanol producer.
Koch Industries employs more than 120,000 people across 60 countries, with about 65,000 people in the U.S. In terms of private companies’ revenue, it is second only to Cargill, Inc. Koch is headquartered in Wichita, Kan., the company’s and the brothers’ hometown.
Koch Industries nearly destroyed itself from the inside out due to brotherly rivalry. The other two Koch brothers, Frederick and William, attempted a hostile takeover of the company that eventually led to Charles and David buying out their siblings and other minority investors for $1.1 billion in 1983.
Charles Koch Net Worth: $51.7B
Charles Koch is the CEO of Koch Industries, a position he’s held since 1967 when his father Fred died unexpectedly. He also sits on its board of directors as chairman. Under Charles’ leadership, the company has been involved in billion-dollar acquisitions and has grown to have one of the largest financial footprints in America. Thanks to Koch Industries’ performance, Charles is now worth more than the GDP of Slovenia.
The company’s largest acquisition was its assimilation of Georgia-Pacific in 2005, worth $21 billion. Charles attributes his success to what he calls market-based management, which applies “values such as free speech, property rights, and progress” and “components of a free-market society” to management, as outlined by the Charles Koch Institute. He even wrote a book about the subject in 2007 called “The Science of Success: How Market-Based Management Built the World’s Largest Private Company.”
Charles occupies spot No. 6 on Forbes’ 2017 list of the richest people in America. Koch Industries’ revenue of $100 billion edges out other big-name companies’ revenue, even when combined. For example, the conglomerate beat out the combined revenues of Goldman Sachs, Honeywell International and Starbucks.
Charles and his wife Elizabeth have two children: Elizabeth Robinson and Chase.
David Koch Net Worth: $51.7B
David Koch is the director emeritus of Koch Industries and its former executive vice president. He joined the family business in 1970 under the shadow of his brother Charles. He ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1980, previewing the depth of his and Charles’ political commitments.
In June 2018, the company announced that David was retiring from Koch Industries due to health issues. The New Yorker later reported that David resisted retiring but Charles forced him out.
David was diagnosed with prostate cancer in the 1990s while recovering from a plane crash. His experience with cancer might inform his philanthropy; he has pledged or contributed more then $1.3 billion to cancer research, medical centers and public policy organizations.
David and his wife, Julia, have three children: David Koch Jr., Mary Julia and John Mark.
Koch Brothers Political Involvement
The Koch brothers have continuously donated to conservative and libertarian candidates, causes and institutions. Charles co-founded the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, in 1976. David co-founded Americans for Prosperity, a political action committee, in 2004. Their father Fred was a founding member of the John Birch Society, a right-leaning group dedicated to lessening the government’s impact and authority in individual lives.
The Kochs’ financial backing, through their various institutions and political groups like AFP, bolstered the Tea Party movement in 2010. The Kochs’ end goal is less government regulation on corporations, particularly climate-related regulations. They pledged $400 million for 2018’s midterm election cycle, CNBC reported in January.
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