Are there examples of where allowing exorbitant wealth accumulation to an individual is beneficial to society?

Western capitalism alllows infinite wealth accumulation to a single person. Has that ever been beneficial to society? I am talking about personal, individual-owned wealth, not market capital etc. Are there examples (other than charity/nonprofit) of very rich (Forbes richest list scale) people who risked really big amounts of money on ventures? Is it right to accept infinite accumulation of wealth by an individual if she isn't willing to put it at risk for the benefit of society?

There are no such cases. When you have exorbitant wealth accumulation in an individual, something has gone terribly wrong, because it means people are not able to compete with this individual for some reason. Lack of competition makes for inefficiency and complacency, and it is the opposite of innovation. It is a crappy stability.

The cases where individuals become very wealthy are cases where state-level capitalization of a large chunk of the economy is somehow converted into personal assets. This happens in several ways, all of which are detrimental to the economy:

One way, the most common way, for an individual to amass great wealth is to go to business school, become a top manager at a corporation, and then get a pay package that includes an enormous amount of equity in the firm. Then just do a competent enough job to raise the price (or an incompetent job which is hidden at the point of maturation of the options), and then cash out. The result is a transfer of a small percentage of the capitalization of the firm into the hands of an individual, and this individual got this reward simply for doing nothing particularly productive. This is how you acquire great wealth.

This is absolutely disasterous for a market economy, because these individuals are not entrepreneurs, they are not innovators, they are simply middle managers who are particularly cutthroat, and have a little bit of an edge in politics. The dynamics of the competition is the same dynamic as in communist countries, individuals squabbling to get to the top politically, and it makes the top layers of management of most enormous corporations completely useless. Often these people kick out any actual entrepreneurs at the first chance they get.

Another way, the most celebrated way, is to start a company which becomes a state-level institution. The way you do this is you grow in relative small size, innovate and innovate, making some millions, then, after your innovative phase is done, there are a few competitors in your niche. At this point, you go to an IPO battle, and exactly ONE of the competing firms is chosen at IPO time to become enormous, through a bet made by the investors that this firm will acquire a monopoly. The bet is usually a self-fulfilling prophecy, the bet is automatically successful if enough investors agree, the investors are rewarded with a rising stock price, and the company is made enormous, and the early investors make a killing.

Thisis also disasterous for a market economy, because it means investors are not looking to capitalize a hundred firms in a given sector, they are looking to dump their money in the single winner. The winner is determined by politics, so it has to be a conservative company that doesn't take chances, at least, not past the initial phase where it was growing from zero to ten-million capitalization. The winner-takes-all property means you kill the market diversity at the exact same instant that the thing breaks out into the wider consciousness, and you have the first IPOs.

This is a property of the capitalization system, which is selecting for large monopolies over many small competent competitors. This type of thing doesn't completely squash the smaller folks, but it makes one company enormous at the expense of all others.

So at each superstar making IPO, you kill a healthy ecosystem of competors by picking a final winner. This early winner then goes on an acquisition spree, bringing all the smaller firms under it's control, and gobbling up all the productivity in the sector, bringing it under a unified management. The chaotic creativity of a market is replaced by a staid managed beaurocracy. This is what happened in Google, in Apple, in Microsoft, in all the big firms. The oligarchy produced an artificial monopoly quickly, and the monopolist protected the position.

This is in the narrow self-interest of the investors, as they make a killing, but it is not in the best interest of a healthy market. A single firm removes the ability of a market to innovate, as the ideas of other capable people are shut out.

You see the same effect in artificial media monopolies. For example, when you want to make a rock-and-roll band enormous. You take one band with promise, and you give them a record deal. You then advertize them like crazy in a winner-take-all media environment, and the one winner is rewarded enormously, while all the other players are kicked out. You have made a media figure. It is a notorious pattern among such folks that their early years are innovative, and the later years are simply formulaic and market-chasing. It's the same pattern, because it's the same situation--- you choose a single winner from a thriving marketplace, and your choice makes a monopoly.

Market equilbrium consists of many small players who are kept by competition from getting too big. The owners of these firms are at best millionaires, not billionaires, they are kept in check by competition from each other, and their activity consists not of managing the top levels of an enormous bureaucracy, but in managing the company itself, making low-level decisions on what to purchase, and who to hire, and what to do. This is productive activity, and I don't think anyone is upset when such people acquire wealth. They are creating more wealth than they take home.

The issue is in the enormous concentrations of wealth that appear when state-level media and financial entities take it on themselves to pick a single winner, and then ensure the success of these winners by their sheer size. This creates horrific market distortions, and makes it that we live in an extremely inefficient caricature of a free market.

Wherever you see high compensation, you see a lack of competition. This is a hard rule. It is important to ensure that the competitive system is ferocious enough to prevent this kind of monopolization. Then if a single individual manages to slowly grow a firm to enormous size, always checked by competition, and always winning, nobody can say that this is a market distortion. Someone like Walt Disney, for instance. This is very rare, the markets don't reward entrepreneurship and innovation very well, they squelch it.