NJBIZ presents the 50 Wealthiest New Jerseyans

//July 7, 2015

NJBIZ presents the 50 Wealthiest New Jerseyans

//July 7, 2015

Welcome to the first edition of NJBIZ’s 50 Wealthiest New Jerseyans, an inside look at the richest of the state’s many power players. Our slideshow features the state’s most affluent people, as well as their net worth and how they made their fortune.

Text and research compiled by freelance correspondent Martin C. Daks and illustrations by freelance artist Robyn Trimboli-Russo.

A careful reader will find that the list cuts across industries from technology to the financial sector and beyond. Compiling this special section was not simple, nor was it a task to be taken lightly.

When people think about mega-wealth, places like Silicon Valley — with its “Microsoft millionaires” and other digital elite — spring to mind. But New Jersey also has its share of individuals for whom six-figure amounts are no more than a rounding error. Clustered in North Jersey, they’re mostly middle-aged or older males, and unlike their West Coast counterparts, they’ve tended to make their fortunes from investing, instead of from pure technology plays.

Here is a look at why and how this was put together:

Why we did it:

We could have simply put together a list of New Jersey’s wealthiest people, but NJBIZ believes that readers — business owners, executives and other people on the way up — don’t just want numbers; they’re also looking for useful information.

That’s why we supplemented the raw numbers with a bit of background. We figured that revealing how these uber-wealthy got to the economic stratosphere might help others to reach those lofty heights. We also tell you a bit about their personal stories because success is about more than just numbers — each individual also brings his or her particular quirks, talents and other characteristics to the table.

How we did it:

Determining how much a person is worth is not an easy job. It means combing through publicly available documents, including news reports and Securities & Exchange Commission filings, and tapping other sources.

In some cases, net worth numbers were reported in reputable publications; where possible, we verified those values with our own research. When an individual’s wealth was tied to public companies, we dug into SEC filings and other documents; but the net worth of most of our 50 Wealthiest New Jerseyans is tied up in privately held companies that usually don’t divulge things like sales or market capitalization.

To determine their net worth, we first had to find a publicly held company that was in the same line of business. Then we dug up whatever information we could on the private company — gross sales, number of employees, production or sales volume and other metrics — and compared them to the public business’s number. We then developed a ratio (generally, the private firm’s size as a percentage of the public company) and applied it to the market capitalization of the publicly held firm to determine the valuation of the private company. If we were reasonably certain that the private firm is owned by more than one person, we allocated the valuation accordingly.

In some cases, the individual previously sold his or her company for a considerable sum. When that happened, we used the reported sales price as a guide to the person’s valuation.

We recognized that our numbers are estimates, so we backstopped our calculations twice: first, by running them by independent industry insiders who told us if they thought we were just about right, too low or too high. Then, we reached out to the Wealthy 50 (directly, when we could get a phone number or email, or through representatives when we couldn’t), ran the numbers by them and asked for their thoughts.

The responses — directly or through their legal or other representatives — varied. Some people disagreed with our estimate and provided reasonable proof of alternative numbers — in those cases, we adjusted our valuation. Others either said that we were wrong — but declined to provide us with a different number — or simply asked to be deleted from the list, without offering their own number. In those cases, we told them, we had no choice but to use our estimate.

This list was originally published in NJBIZ on June 29, 2015. All information included was based on research and information as of that date.