A Billionaires Ranking

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application heading

The Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows a ranking of the 200 richest people in the world. It is updated daily and it is a measure based upon changes in market and Bloomberg reportings. The application displays several kinds of information, from raw data to geographical ones, through different types of visualizations, like barcharts or maps. For every visualization, many filters can be applied to data. The graphical visualization is sometimes funny and involving; in addition, curious information are available to the user.
In all sections of the application it is possible to display more detailed information about the single billionaire. Moreover, the user can visualize all the Bloomberg articles about the billionaires or share the application with a friend.

The Application

The application is organized into four different sections that show data through four different kinds of visualizations. The "Explore" section shows a ranking of the billionaires through their faces, "Rank" uses horizontal barcharts, "Plot" draws a graph and "Map" places every billionaire on a world map.

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application modalities




The "Explore" section of the application shows a ranking of the billionaires using their faces as icons. The ranking is computed on the basis of the measure chosen by the user: he/she can rank the billionaires depending on the net worth or on changes, with respect to the previous day or with respect to the year to date (YTD). It is also possible to rank on the basis of the internal fluctuations of the standings. Under every icon, the name of the billionaire is displayed along with the position in the rank and a significant raw data about the filter applied.


  • The use of the faces as icons is interesting, they are endearing and users are attracted and stop to take a deeper look at the application. Under icons there are additional information: the rank, the name and the overall significant raw data about the unit of measure chosen by the user.

  • Hovering on any icon shows a popup with information about the specific billionaire: the complete name, the rank and raw data. This last information changes on the basis of the measure chosen: if the ranking is made on the basis of the Net Worth, in the popup is shown the value about the YTD and vice versa. The user is in such a way allowed to display data about two different measures at the same time.

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    popup shown hovering on a face

  • A click on any icon shows a lot of detailed information about the billionaire: raw data, keywords and a portfolio analysis of the billionaire, along with an overview of the person, a short biography and news.

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    details about a specific billionaire's fortunes

  • Also some minor details have been taken into account: under the icon is always displayed the rank with respect to the net worth and the amount of the measure chosen is green or red depending upon the fluctuations; in the upper right part of the screen is displayed the overall sum of the measures of all the billionaires; if Bloomberg has a recent news about a particular billionaire, it is displayed on the icon with a small newspaper page picture.


  • Curiosity is what drives a user to look at billionaires' worths. Usually, billionaires' faces are not famous, but their companies are. I think that to each face should be associated the name of a company or, however, the application should make clear briefly and at once why a person is a billionaire. These information are available clicking on a face, but I think they are enough important to be shown to the user without he/she look for it; the user expects to have that particular information at a glance. The popup could have been an interesting place.

  • When the user applies a filter to data a nice animation moves all the icons in a new disposition and highlights the faces filtered. However, the usual ranking is placed at the end of the data filtered, making the screen crowded with people that do not belong to any filter applied. Even if this does not cause loss of information, it causes a loss of intuitiveness, since the user cannot focus on data he/she chose to see but it is attracted once again by other icons, even if these are not highlighted but are in the shade.

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    non-filtered data are displayed anyway




The "Rank" section shows the same ranking of the section "Explore", but with different kinds of visualizations: barcharts and tables.


  • All the data shown in this section can be sorted by all the measures available for computing the ranking in the "Explore" section. The user can decide to sort them in a descending or ascending order.

  • In this specific section it is possible to view all the fluctuations in the ranking of every single billionaire by simply clicking in the bottom-left part of the visualization and choosing a period of time different than one day. The visualization will change and lines will show the rank of each billionaire in that specific period of time.

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    ranking fluctuations: hovering on a line the billionaire is highlighted

  • Colors used for the barcharts are exactly like the user would expect: red for negative fluctuations, green for earnings.

  • The application, along with bars, leave the user to choose to visualize raw data just clicking the button in the upper-left part of the section. A table with all the information displayed previously by charts will appear. Again, green and red colors are used with the usual meaning. All the line have a different background-color that simplify the reading.

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    raw data displayed in a table: high readability

  • Hovering on each bar of the chart, the line will display raw data about the billionaire, giving precise detailed information. In case the table is shown instead of the bars, by hovering on a line, the user will highlight the row and the reading will be clearer.

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    bars and raw data at the same time; good use of colors


  • When data is filtered, the "Explore" section takes all the filtered billionaires and places them at the beginning of the visualization, highlighted. Unfortunately this does not happen in the "Rank" section. Here the filtered data is just highlighted and it is necessary to scroll the ranking to look for those billionaires. The visualization effectiveness is in this way compromised. There is also the risk that a user does not succeed in spotting all the highlighted lines, with a loss of information.

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    filtered data are not moved on the top: need to scroll

  • In case the user is visualizing data bout the overall net worth in dollars and then he/she changes the period of time of analysis, the application will show lines that describe the fluctuations of the amount. In case different billionaires are close in the amount of money, it becomes difficult or almost impossible to read the graph, since all lines and names will overlap.

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    the graph is incomprehensible




The "Plot" section plots data of billionaires but it gives information not about the billionaire's earnings, but about their industries and trades. This section allows the user to make some kinds of weak comparisons among industries' areas.


  • The application leaves the user to choose both the x-axis and the y-axis. It is possible to plot the graph against type of industry or financial indexes.

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    axis choice

  • Again, the application offers possibilities to cause interest in the users and to satisfy their curiosity: it is possible to choose, as x-axis, the wealth source (self-made or inherited) or the number of children of each billionaire.

  • The plot is a kind of barchart where the bars are built with the faces of the billionaires. The difference is that these icons are placed on the basis of the y-axis like in a line-chart. In this way it is possible to show on the same graph data about the type of industry (x-axis), the amount of worth or ranking (y-axis) and about the number of people in a particular category (density and number of faces in a bar).

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    data about types of industry, ranking and number of people (density of icons)


  • To plot a lot of data in just one graph it is necessary a trade-off between the amount of information displayed and the readability and immediacy of the chart. In this case it is hard to understand the graph at a glance, even if it is well designed. However, once the user is used to that, there are not any further problems.

  • Part of the difficulty to read the graph at a glance is due to the non visible x-axis (it is necesssary to scroll the view in a normal screen) and the y-axis without a clear label for the unit of measure (the label is the select input itself).

  • When the user filters the data, the application highligths the faces filtered, but it does not overlay them on the others. The results is that the user can see just some blurred highlighted with faces behind well-detailed non-highlighted ones. This method could have been a good way to have information about filtered data on the graph (maybe it would have been better to remove from the graph non-filtered icons).

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    it is difficult to spot Italian billionaires




The "Map" section visualizes all the billionaires on a world map on the basis of their citizenships. Circles with different radius are used to display the estates.


  • Circles are used to place billionaires on the map and this is very intuitive. Different radii represents different levels of worth. Since circles have not full opacity, it is possible to understand when circles overlap, in order to have an idea of the number of people with the same citizenship.

  • A completely different choice has been made about filtered data: in this section non filtered data are removed from the map, instead of highlighting the filtered ones.

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    non-filtered data have been removed from the map


  • The map is not easily readable, since circles overlap and it is not possible to distinguish different billionaires. This is due to the fact that the map is not zoomable and the user cannot have detailed data about a particular country.

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    the map is so crowded that it is impossible to understand billionaires' citizenships

  • No numbers are displayed on the map. Probably the purpose was just to offer a general overview of the citizenships of the billionaires (even if this does not mean that they have industries in they home country).

  • It would have been better to have an interactive map that allows the user to choose the country (or even more than one) by clicking on the map.

  • Instead of information about the single billionaire (by hovering over a circle), since circles are not distinguishable, it would have been better to have aggregate data about the country, such as total number of billionaires or total amount of money.




Throughout all the application there are some features that do not belong to any specific section but are typical of the whole visualization. In the same way, some critics have to be made for the entire application.

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all the types of filters applicable


  • Data, in every section of the application, can be filtered into a huge number of categories: it is possible to divide billionaires by industry, citizenship, gender, age and/or source of wealth. Moreover, the user can decide to visualize data about all the billionaires at the same time or about just a subset of them. In that case, an alphabetical order list with all the billionaires will appear and the user will be able to select as many people as he/she desires. In that case, yet, it is not possible to apply any filter.

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    selection of a subset of billionaires

  • In the bottom part of the visualization it is always present a scroll bar that allows the user to pick one specific date. In that case the application will show data updated to that specific day and all the data will refer to that particular day.

  • The application is able to attract the user, thanks to the uncommon choice to use smiling faces as icons. This choice lowers the level of formality of the application and makes the analysis more pleasant. In addition, there is the possibility to filter and visualize data, like the number of children of each billionaire, that satisfy the curiosity of the user and keep him/her focused on the application.

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    curiosity: it is possible to show number of children for each billionaire

  • The overall use of the application is simple and intuitive. These are fundamental features for an interactive visualization that is accessible by any kind of users.


  • The application offers many different categories to filter data, but there is not the possibility to aggregate data into categories and make comparisons (for example, aggregating continents or industries). The application is good to visualize data about each single billionaire or to make some simple comparisons among them, but it is not suitable for comparing categories in order to infer some interesting economical pattern.

  • It would have been interesting if the billionaires would have been placed into some kind of external context. For example, when the map is displayed, information about each country would have been interesting in order to understand the real amount of money owned by each billionaire, and to perceive the context in which he/she operates. I think it would have been very interesting to compare the net worth of a billionaire with respect to the average wealth of the population, or with respect to the GDP of the country. Also information about economic growth or crisis of each country would have given a greater meaning to the data that the application is already able to display.

The Data

The application shows data about the net worth of the first 200 world's richest people. Data are computed on the basis of changes in market and Bloomberg reportings. Daily, at 5:30 p.m. in New York, data are updated and a new ranking is computed. Stakes of publicly traded companies are valued with the most recent closing price while valuations are converted in U.S. dollar using the current exchange rate. If the ownership of an asset cannot be verified, that asset is not included in the calculations. Net worth calculations include dividend income paid and taxes are applied at the highest rate. No assumptions have been made on personal debts. It has been assumed, however, that all billionaires' fortunes are also family fortunes. Each billionaire has been given the possibility to reply and discuss about the calculations of their fortunes. Michael Bloomberg, the founder and owner of Bloomberg LP, is not included in the data.
You can find a detailed description about calculations here.

Interesting Findings

Here I want to talk about some interesting facts that can be found using the application, thanks to the different types of visualization.

  • If we filter billionaires by gender and then by age, we can confirm, since we could already expect it, that the majority of billionaires consists of men over 39 years old.

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    no billionaires are between 20-29

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    billionaires between 30-39 are just three

  • Thanks to the "Plot" section it is possible to plot the billionaires against the amount of cash assets they own. Cash asset is anything that can readily be converted into cash. We can see that almost all of them has just between 0% and 30% amount of cash asset.

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    almost anyone has cash assets between 0% and 30%

  • As we could already expect, the majority of billionaires is from USA or Europe or Asia. Almost no one comes from south America or Africa. In addition, it is interesting to notice the the majority of billionaires in the technology industry are from USA, while for manufacturing industry they come from Europe and for real estate industry they are from Hong Kong.

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    majority of billionaires comes from USA, Europe and Asia


Dario Casula