Bloomberg Billionaires is a visualization of the world’s richest people.

Each ridiculously powerful person is presented as a charming illustrated head.

As you select various parameters (like sex or source of wealth) the heads rearrange kind of like musical chairs.

It cuts the intimidation factor of all this information.

But deeper analysis …

… is always just a click or mouseover away.

You can even build big graphs--out of heads!

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Infographic: The Richest People In The World

"Bloomberg Billionaires" explores not only the richest people in the world, but where all their money comes from.

Everybody knows Bill Gates, but I wonder how many of us would recognize Carlos Slim walking down the street. He’s the richest man in the world, worth almost $80 billion. And apparently he doesn’t even own a computer because he prefers to communicate via BlackBerry.

That’s just one of many factoids I learned while exploring "Bloomberg Billionaires," the latest interactive infographic by the Bloomberg Visual Data team, headed by Lisa Strausfeld. Whereas we’ve all perused a "world’s richest" list now and again, this fun visualization allows you to power-sort the origins of each billionaire’s wealth, without ever losing the quirky humanity behind our titans of industry.

"A key part of the experience is getting to know the individual billionaires, so we knew we wanted to feature portraits of some kind," Strausfeld tells Co.Design. "We considered sending a photographer around the world, but were just as happy with our choice to hire an illustrator, Lina Chen."

The illustrations do a lot to ground the graphic’s tone, turning each billionaire into a cast member of Guess Who? Even as you set complex parameters to explore the list—maybe sorting who is over 50, female, and made their wealth through finance (Abby Johnson, by the way)—the interface responds by playing a game of musical chairs with all these portraits, juggling heads and adding an element of whimsy to the results. (To take things a step further, you can even line the heads up in various graphs.) So through UX alone, an esoteric business tool becomes an informative game that anyone can play.

It also leads me to another realization: Go ahead and sort through the billionaires across industries. Which category has the most faces you recognize without the names? I’m betting it’s technology (Zuckerberg, Page, Brin, Bezos, and Gates—Bezos, Ballmer, and Ellison for the geekiest amongst us). Because of all the ways to become a billionaire in our era, technology is by far the most pop-culture-relevant one. Kids these days—no respect for mining.

Try it here.

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  • Rothschild

    You say ridiculously powerful. But is just money.

    Their power is because you associate the two, instead of calling them "The people with the most responsibility in the world"

    But anyway your list is wrong, so very, very wrong. These people are minnows.

  • Al

    That's really good. 

    A few improvements: the browser back button should go back within the graphic (e.g. from people profiles back to the explore view, using something like jquery-bbq), the change charts in rank should really have a central axis to show positive and negative change going left and right rather than relying on colour coding, and a facet-style multi-select or checkbox for the filters would be better so you can select more than one at a time (particularly age ranges), plus, a hierarchy in Citizenship - the long list of countries is a bit overwhelming, it'd be nice if you could choose 'European' or 'Asian' or 'North American' etc etc then dig down from there. It'd also be nice to plot against age.

    Wasn't expecting there to be literally no women in the top 100 who's wealth wasn't inherited. Also interesting that all the people with wealth from manufacturing inherited it from an earlier generation...

  • Paulina Durán

    Ahm, well, at least if you come to Mexico, everybody knows who he is. Gee, he practically owns this country :/ -and a really big share of Latin America-