PHOTO: AFR 2021 Young Rich List 

Surging valuations for unlisted tech companies, the rise in cryptocurrency and a boom in wellness have driven the self-made wealth of Australia’s 100 richest people aged 40 and under to record levels.

The 2021 Financial Review Young Rich List boasts total wealth of $41.3 billion, $100 million higher than the previous record set in 2019, and includes six billionaires – three more than ever before.

This year’s record wealth creation comes without the firepower of the 11-figure fortunes built by the two founders of Australia’s most successful software company, Atlassian. Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are both now older than 40 and have hence aged off the list.

They are replaced at the apex by Cliff Obrecht and Melanie Perkins, the married founders of Australia’s second most successful software company, the do-it-yourself graphic design platform Canva.

Perkins’ part in the couple’s $16.5 billion fortune, achieved after Canva raised capital at a $55 billion valuation in September, makes 2021 a clean sweep for female business builders after iron ore magnate Gina Rinehart topped the Rich List in May. Perkins leads a record 15 women on the Young Rich List this year, up from 12 in 2020 and nine in 2019.

Canva’s coming of age as a household name also caps a Young Rich List dominated like never before by technology. The creation of software drove 47 of the fortunes, including seven new additions involved in cryptocurrency: Kain Warwick and his siblings Kieran, Aaron and Grant; brothers Daniel and William Roberts; and Sergei Sergienko.

The next most common sources of wealth for those aged 40 and under are online retail (11 fortunes) and sport (10).

It takes category-killing innovations to top the list, and coming third after the Canva founders is the creator of another. Nick Molnar reinvented lay-by, for a generation wary of credit card debt, with Afterpay. In August, seven years after launching the company with older neighbour Anthony Eisen, they agreed to merge it with Jack Dorsey’s Square Inc in a $39 billion deal.

The vicissitudes of Afterpay’s listing on the Australian Securities Exchange meant Molnar’s wealth only went up 25 per cent, to $2.8 billion, in 2021.

Hear what it takes to earn your way onto The Australian Financial Review Rich Lists in a new podcast interview series, How I Made It, from The Australian Financial Review.