CARY – Jim Goodnight, cofounder and CEO of software giant SAS, is by far and away the richest man in North Carolina, according to new data from Forbes. His fortune is growing. That of Epic Games billionaire owner Tim Sweeney is declining.

But the Forbes data should not be considered scientific – it’s an estimate.

“It’s worth noting annual rankings of billionaires are nowhere near an exact science. They rely on estimates and projections,” reports CNN.

And neither Goodnight, through SAS, nor Sweeney, through Epic, comment on their owners’ fortunes.

However the Forbes data is widely followed not only in North Carolina but around the world.

So let’s take a look.

Tim Sweeney (Photo courtesy of Epic Games via Forbes)

Goodnight fortune grows

Forbes ranks Goodnight No. 1 in North Carolina and No. 102 globally with a net worth of $8.5 billion.

Goodnight plans to take SAS into public markets in 2025, and revenue continues to grow. The company’s been profitable since it launched in 1976.

Over the past year Goodnight’s holdings grew by $1 billion. In fact his fortune is now close to the $8.8 billion net worth it estimated for Goodnight as the economy began recovering from the pandemic.

Second richest in the state is John Sall, the cofounder of SAS.

Sall is estimated to be worth $4.2 billion, good for No. 273 on the global list.

Layoffs + subsidiary sales: Is Epic facing capital crunch? Triangle tech attorney weighs in

Sweeney now ranks No. 3 in the state. The value of his fortune has declined to $4.1 billion, says Forbes.

He’s now No. 278 in the world rankings.

His company also is ranked as North Carolina’s second most valuable (behind Hendrick Automotive) while SAS ranks sixth, according to Business North Carolina.

Epic is estimated to be $32 billion after outside investments from firms such as LEGOS. SAS is valued north of $20 billion, according to a 2021 Wall Street Journal estimate.

Sweeney’s net worth challenged Goodnight’s total in the 2022 Forbes rankings at $7.4 billion. However, Forbes estimates Sweeney’s fortune fell to $4.7 in its new report.

Possible reasons include Epic’s ongoing, costly legal battles with Apple and Google over antitrust issues plus the fact the two giants have banned Epic and its best-selling Fortnite game from ecommerce sales through their app stores.

“Antitrust and intellectual property litigation are notoriously expensive,” Raleigh-based securities and tech attorney Jim Verdonik told TechWire after Epic’s layoff news was announced Sept. 28. “My guestimate is that the lawyers cost $100 million or more, but Epic had bigger legal expenses in te form of a $520 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that was about $620 billion of Epic’s [estimated] 2022 revenue of $1.175 billion.”

Epic also has taken on new investors which most likely have cut into Sweeney’s majority ownership holdings. Epic already is 40% owned by China-based Tencent.

Sweeny has announced hundreds of job cuts (16%) and sales of subsidiaries, saying spending – including legal expenses – must be cut.

SAS, on the other hand, has disclosed plans to make a limited number (1% of its workforce) this year.

NC’s biggest private companies – SAS, Epic Games, more – as ranked by Business NC magazine

Michael Jordan, David Murdock updates

Forbes lists Michael Jordan’s home state as Florida. He’s worth $3 billion. Jordan finalized sale of the NBA Charlotte Hornets in August.

David Murdock, the founder of the biotechnology campus in Kannapolis, is worth $3.4 billion, according to Forbes. His home state is listed as California.

Previous Forbes richest coverage

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