Often called "the Oracle of Omaha", Buffett is Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and arguably the greatest investor of all time. His wealth fluctuates with the performance of the market but in 2008 his net worth was once estimated at $62 billion.
Buffett is a value investor. His company Berkshire Hathaway is basically a holding company for his investments. Major holdings he has had at some point include Geico, NetJets, Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola, American Express and Gillette. Critics predicted an end to his success when his conservative investing style meant missing out on the dotcom bull market. Of course, he had the last laugh after the dotcom crash because, once again, Buffett's time tested strategy proved successful.
At only six years old, Buffett purchased 6-packs of Coca Cola from his grandfather's grocery store for twenty five cents and resold each of the bottles for a nickel, pocketing a five cent profit. While other children his age were playing hopscotch and jacks, Warren was making money.
Five years later, Buffett took his step into the world of high finance. At eleven years old, he purchased three shares of Cities Service Preferred at $38 per share for both himself and his older sister, Doris. Shortly after buying the stock, it fell to just over $27 per share. A frightened but resilient Warren held his shares until they rebounded to $40. He promptly sold them - a mistake he would soon come to regret. Cities Service shot up to $200. The experience taught him one of the basic lessons of investing: patience is a virtue.
After Harvard Business School, in the worst admission decision in history, rejected Buffett as "too young" he applied to Columbia where famed investors Ben Graham and David Dodd taught - an experience that would forever change his life.
Ben Graham published Security Analysis, one of the greatest works ever penned on the stock market. At the time, it was risky; investing in equities had become a joke (the Dow Jones had fallen from 381.17 to 41.22 over the course of three to four short years following the crash of 1929).
It was around this time that Graham came up with the principle of "intrinsic" business value - a measure of a business's true worth that was completely and totally independent of the stock price. Using intrinsic value, investors could decide what a company was worth and make investment decisions accordingly. His subsequent book, The Intelligent Investor, which Warren celebrates as "the greatest book on investing ever written", introduced the world to Mr. Market - the best investment analogy in history.
"In the luxury business, you have to build on heritage." Bernard Arnault
"We enjoy the process far more than the proceeds." Warren Buffett
"Entrepreneurial business favours the open mind." Richard Branson
The world's arbiter of good taste--and one of the richest men in Europe--controls fashion companies such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Bulgari. This year LVMH bought a stake in Chinese casual-wear company Trendy International Group.
As chairman and majority owner of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, which includes high-end brands Givenchy, Tag Heuer watches, Donna Karan, Fendi and Moët & Chandon champagne, and of Dior and other companies, Bernard Arnault is required on a daily basis to balance the business needs of his sprawling empire with the exquisite good taste those brands must convey. What Arnault thinks matters globally. His is a $22 billion company in a $200 billion business. “They say God is in the detail,” says Sidney Toledano, CEO of Dior and a longtime Arnault buddy. “Here, the boss is in the detail.”
“I just don’t like it. I don’t like it at all,” Arnault complains as he examines a red-rimmed cotton canvas bag. The shelves of Dior’s sunlit showroom are neatly stacked with dozens of purses, totes and clutches in leather, shearling and python. To one side sit $1,900 serpent-shaped crystal-encrusted sandals with 6-inch-heels and shiny patent-leather ballerinas. Yet Arnault is fixated on this one $750 tote. He tugs disapprovingly on a round plastic pendant on the bag’s handle. “Can this be taken off?” he asks the cluster of Dior executives standing behind him. He takes the bag off its perch and continues: “The black and gray versions of the bag are already bordering on the commercial, but the red goes too far…it’s just not Dior.”
In the emerging markets LVMH is counting on for its future growth—countries such as China, India and Russia, where owning branded products is still a way to exude status and achievement—there is also economic uncertainty. Arnault remains sanguine. “In 1998, the Russian economy was on the brink, and then it rebounded. It happened quite quickly. India too—I have no doubt it will rebound,” he says, opening a silver pill box and popping an artificial sweetener into his coffee.
“China is the most interesting part of the world for me now. I go there two or three times a year, most recently in Dalian, where we’ve just opened in a new mall. There are so many people who are getting to the stage where they want to consume, who want to be part of a club.” Over the next five years, Arnault expects China to account for 20 percent of LVMH’s sales. “China is feeling the effects of the crisis, but less than the U.S. And when you consider that Chinese tourists are now buying as much as Japanese tourists, when there were virtually none just 10 years ago, I’m not so worried.”
is first business venture was a magazine called Student at the age of 16. In 1970, he set up a mail-order record business. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores. His Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s, as he set up Virgin Atlantic and expanded the Virgin Records music label.
He is the 4th richest citizen of the United Kingdom, according to the Forbes 2012 list of billionaires, with an estimated net worth of US$4.6 billion. "Chance favours the prepared mind. The more you practice, the luckier you become," says Richard Branson as he smiles a very enthusiastic grin.
He was born in Blackheath, London, the son and eldest child of barrister Edward James Branson and Eve Huntley Branson. His grandfather, the Right Honourable Sir George Arthur Harwin Branson, was a judge of the High Court of Justice and a Privy Councillor.
Richard was educated at Scaitcliffe School (now Bishopsgate School) until the age of thirteen. He then attended Stowe School until the age of sixteen. He has dyslexia and had poor academic performance as a student, but later discovered his ability to connect with others. He struggled in school and dropped out at age 16—a decision that ultimately lead to the creation of Virgin Records. His entrepreneurial projects started in the music industry and expanded into other sectors making Richard a billionaire. His Virgin Group holds more than 200 companies, including the recent Virgin Galactic, a space-tourism company. He is also known for his adventurous spirit and sporting achievements. On one of his last days at school, his headmaster, Robert Drayson, told him he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire.
He says, "Entrepreneurial business favours the open mind. It favours people whose optimism drives them to prepare for many possible futures, pretty much purely for the joy of doing so." Richard's parents had a significant impact on his life. He had very talented parents who had an abundance of love for their children and were supportive of his endeavors from an early age. For example, when he was 15 he decided to breed budgies and persuaded his father to build a huge aviary. His father built it. They always encouraged him to go ahead and do what he wanted. His parents always treated him and his two sisters as equals. His parents always encouraged them to have their own opinions and rarely gave them advice unless they asked for it.