NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- On Wednesday Forbes' famous list of the world's billionaires was revealed. This year, the directory included prominent names in business including No. 6, Oracle's ( ORCL - Get Report) Larry Ellison and No. 24, Google's ( GOOG - Get Report) (GOOG) Sergey Brin. Investors such as George Soros and John Paulson also found themselves positioned among the top 50. However, this year the list of the world's super affluent was headed by America Movil's ( AMX - Get Report) Carlos Slim. This is only the second time since 2001 that the top two spots were not held by the dynamic duo of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. Instead, the Microsoft ( MSFT - Get Report) founder, who saw his net wealth increase by $13 billion last year, had to settle for second place, while Buffett, who saw his fortune increase by $10 billion thanks to his impressive bets on firms like Goldman Sachs ( GS - Get Report) and BYD, placed third. Holding regular positions at the top of the Forbes' billionaires list are just one of the many experiences these world famous businessmen have shared. The two men first met in 1991 when Gates was urged by his mother to attend a meeting where the Nebraska investor was present. Although the two hailed from different backgrounds, they still managed to hit it off immediately. Since the initial meeting, the two have developed a close-knit friendship based on a love for philanthropy, the game of bridge and, more recently, trash. The most notable connection these two men have shared over the course of their nearly 20-year friendship has been their desire to help the world's poor and less fortunate. Although Buffett heads his own charitable efforts, including the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the financier made waves when in 2006 when he announced that he would donate the vast majority of his Berkshire Hathaway ( BRK.A - Get Report) shares to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. At the time of the offer, this gift was valued at more than $30 billion. The aim of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is to battle global disease and poverty as well as fund U.S. education projects.
While Buffett has assisted Gates through his generous charitable gifts, Gates has provided Buffett with a number of investment ideas. The most recent example of Gates' influence was seen when the Oracle of Omaha's quarterly 13-F filing was unveiled last month. In surveying Buffett's legendary portfolio, Warren watchers discovered that the investor had dramatically increased his position in the waste company, Republic Services Group ( RSG - Get Report). Coincidentally, Gates previously made his own substantial investment in Allied Waste, a firm which has since merged with RSG. Today, Gates is the largest shareholder of Republic Services. Buffett also appeared to follow Gates when it came to his all-in bet on Burlington Northern Santa Fe ( BNI) in late 2009. Prior to this deal, Gates had accumulated his own substantial position in another railroad, Canadian National Railway ( CNI - Get Report). Buffett has respectfully admitted that he wished he had gotten into railroads when Gates first ventured into the industry. Outside the world of philanthropy and business, the two men are famous bridge partners and have shared the podium at a number of speaking events. In November 2009, the two came together to discuss the topic of capitalism in the wake of the recent economic crisis by appearing in front of 700 Columbia University students at a town hall-style event. Both expressed their optimism for the U.S. economy to the enthusiastic crowd. Although Gates, 25 years Buffett's junior, has in the past insisted that he views the Oracle of Omaha as the teacher in the relationship, it is apparent that there's ample wisdom flowing from both parties. What do you think of Carlos Slim's rise to the top? Does he have a shot at holding the top spot for many years, or do you think Gates or Buffett will reclaim the title as the world's richest? -- Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.