Bill Gates is in fourth place of the most powerful people in the world, according to Forbes.

The annual ranking by Forbes saw Gates rise from fifth place last year, up to fourth for 2012, and cited for his massive fortune. Gates, who co-founded the world’s largest software maker, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), has a staggering personal fortune of $65 billion – despite having donated over $28 billion towards various charitable causes.

bill gates

Despite retiring from his role as Chief Software Architect in 2008 and focusing on his charitable pursuits, which include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, it is apparently his mission and influence that means Gates retains his place in the top ten of most powerful people.

Gates, who is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been attempting to stamp out various deadly diseases around the world, such as malaria. Forbes notes that the foundation may have saved as many as eight billion lives by 2020.

Gates has also been trying to convince other wealthy peers to donate their personal fortunes to the charity, and managed to sign up a further 23 contributors to the foundation’s “Giving Pledge” in the past year – bringing the total of big-donators up to 91.

Gate’s closest US Internet and tech competitors on the list were Sergey Brin, Co-founder of Google and director of special projects, and Larry Page, CEO and co-founder of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg followed closely behind in 25th place. Despite a troubled IPO earlier in the year that saw Zuckerberg’s personal wealth drop from $17 billion down to $14 billion, Forbes still sees the maker of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), the world’s largest social network, as a major player in the tech world – it reached one billion users in October this year.

There was an assortment of other big names in tech on the list, including Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos in 27th place, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook in 35th position, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer at No. 46, founder and CEO of Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) – China’s biggest search engine – Robin Li, and LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE:LNKD) Chairman Reid Hoffman at No. 71.

Other major names in the top five of the Forbes list included Barack Obama, president of the United States, in first place; Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, in second; Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, in third – sandwiching Gates between himself and Pope Benedict XVI of the Roman Catholic Church in fifth place.

Click to see the full list at Forbes.