Perth apartment magnate Paul Blackburne bursts onto BRW Young Rich list at $536 million

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

Paul Blackburne loved the global financial crisis. He was able to snap up several inner-city Perth sites and has been building cutting edge apartment projects ever since.

His strategy has been an overwhelming success. Blackburne is the highest debutant on the BRW Young Rich list this year with wealth of $536 million, enough for third position behind the billionaire Atlassian co-founders, Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar.

The software duo top the list with combined wealth of $2.3 billion, a record amount in the list’s 13-year history. The pair’s wealth is up from $2.1 billion last year, and the overall wealth of the 100 list members surged $2.3 billion to a record $10.6 billion thanks to a booming property market and the strength of the technology sector.

While the average wealth of each member on the list is now $106 million, property developers are the wealthiest on average. The 10 young real estate magnates on the Young Rich list have average wealth of $191 million, led by Blackburne, whose Blackburne Property Group dominates the Perth apartment market, specialising in building high-end apartment projects.

Cashed-up and debt free, Blackburne started buying cheap sites during the global financial crisis and now starts about four big projects in the West Australian capital each year.

“The GFC was a great time for the business,” he said. “But now we are just happy to keep doing what we are doing. I don’t want to get too big; I’m happy to keep doing what we are doing and doing it well.”

That includes a private rooftop terrace for apartment occupants on one Blackburne development that is costing him an extra $1 million to build. “We’re not just selling apartments,” Mr Blackburne said. “We’re trying to sell a lifestyle change.”

Fourth and fifth on the list are Dave Greiner and Ben Richardson, at $502 million. The pair run Sydney email marketing firm ­Campaign Monitor, which received a big investment from Insight Venture Partners last year.

Another debutant in the top ten is Swisse Wellness chief executive Radek Sali, 39. He places sixth with a wealth of $443 million which primarily represents his proceeds of the $1.67 billion sale of the majority of the vitamins and health products company to the Hong Kong-listed Biostime in September.

The 23 debutants have been in business eight years each on average, meaning the young business entrepreneurs are making their fortunes – $19 million is the cut-off to make the Young Rich – earlier than ever before.

The youngest new names are Appster co-founders Josiah Humphrey and Mark McDonald. They join the list for the first time in positions 43 and 44 with a combined wealth of $58 million. They own their entire company and have been profitable since founding Appster only four years ago.

Based in San Francisco, Mr Humphrey and Mr McDonald are two of the record 30 names on the list that are based overseas, and among the eight that live in or around San Francisco.

Others such as Patrick Grove, who has established an Asian version of Netflix called iflix, live in Asia, while Erin Deering, co-founder of online bikini retailer , lives in Monaco. She is the second-wealthiest female debutant, arriving at position 66 with a wealth of $36 million.

Michele Strode debuts in 46th place with a wealth of $55 million from her stake in Invoice2Go, a firm founded by husband Chris Strode –who departs the list having turned 41.

Ms Deering and Ms Strode are two of eight women on the list, up from six last year. The wealthiest female is model Erica Baxter in position 31 with a wealth of $78 million.

The full BRW Young Rich list is published in full in AFR Magazine Friday and on brw.com.au