Perhaps, you’ve heard that name—it often makes appearances in newspapers on the financial section at page 4, or more possibly, a dedicated article by TIME or Forbes in one of its monthly releases. But most importantly, Berkshire Hathaway is the 5th largest public company in the world, with almost $500 billion in market capitalization. Its financial services earn more than any other banking firm on the planet, making it one of the most powerful corporations to have ever existed, employing—and affecting the lives of—more than 360,000 employees across the globe. Truly, Berkshire’s success is tantamount, all credit is due to its Chairman and CEO, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett.
Who is Warren Buffett?
Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1930, Buffett demonstrated exceptional instincts of a businessman at a young age. After studying business and graduating at the University of Nebraska, he started taking entrepreneurship seriously by forming the Buffett Partnership Ltd. in 1956.
Warren is the only son of a congressman and stockbroker Howard Buffett. His mother, Leila Stahl Buffett, was a homemaker. By the age of 13, Buffett was running his own business as a paperboy, filing his first tax return that same year. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School in D.C., where he continued growing his little business empire by purchasing a used pinball machine for $25. Buffett and his friend installed it in a barbershop, and within a few months, the profits enabled them to buy other machines. His co-owned gaming business grew to three different locations before it got sold for $1,200.
Establishing Berkshire Hathaway
After setting up his first firm Buffet Partnership in Omaha, he began purchasing and identifying undervalued companies that he thought was an investment. Once such enterprise is the now almighty Berkshire Hathaway, which was once a textile company. Through Berkshire, Warren Buffet began accumulating stock in the early 1960s, and by 1965 he had assumed control of the soon-to-be mega-enterprise.
What happened to Buffett Partnership? Warren decided to dissolve the firm in 1969 to focus on the development of Berkshire Hathaway. The company’s manufacturing division was phased out and instead shifted to what Buffett is good at: investments. It expanded by buying assets in media (The Washington Post), insurance (GEICO), and oil production (Exxon). Later in 1987, Buffett steered Berkshire’s then-burgeoning success into saving seemingly failing companies—metaphorically turning rocks into gold. Most notable is his purchase of the controversial investment bank Salomon Brothers.
Eventually, under Buffett’s leadership, Berkshire had numerous deals with other mega companies, including a 7% stake in The Coca-Cola Company worth $1.1 billion in 1988. Warren became director of the company from 1989 until 2006. His flirtations with financial firms made him into one of the directors of Citigroup Global Markets Holdings, Graham Holdings, and The Gillette Company.
Today, Berkshire Hathaway completely owns staple brands like underwear maker Fruit of the Loom and ice creamery Dairy Queen. As a minority stockholder, the Buffett led holding company owns a part of Apple, Inc. and American Express.
Becoming the World’s Most Successful Investor
As of 2018, Buffett is the third wealthiest man on the planet. He has an estimated net worth of $84 billion.
I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them,” said Buffett. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.”
Warren Buffett is no doubt the world’s most successful investor, but he’s also a business icon who can deliver the gift of wisdom and truth when we need it most. As a self-made billionaire, Buffett can attest to the fact that the amount you are loved for – not your wealth or accomplishments – is the one, true measure of success in life.