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."
"We enjoy the process far more than the proceeds."
"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.”
His 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.
Andre Romelle Young, known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American record producer, rapper and entrepreneur. He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Dre was previously the co-owner of and an artist on, Death Row Records. He has produced albums for and overseen the careers of many rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, 50 Cent, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar. He is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats. In early 2014, Dr. Dre was ranked as the second richest figure in the American hip hop scene by Forbes with a net worth of $550 million prior to the rumoured upcoming sale of Beats Electronics to Apple for a reported $3.2 billion in May.
Beats Electronic, which includes the Beats by Dre headphones line and online streaming service Beats Music, reportedly pulls in revenues over $1 billion each year. The Beats headphones have dominated the market and edged out any new competition of headphones priced over $99 since 2008. The line got an even bigger push with Iovine’s weekly appearance on “American Idol.” Reports conclude that Beats Music is serious competition for Spotify and Apple’s iTunes Radio. The Hip-Hop mogul Dr. Dre and record executive Jimmy Iovine may have a new titles: billionaires after the Financial Times reported that Apple plans to acquire the company.
Back in 1996 Dr Dre established his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. He produced a compilation album titled Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath in 1996, and released a solo album titled 2001 in 1999. During the 2000s, he focused on production for other artists, while occasionally contributing vocals to songs. Dr. Dre signed Eminem and 50 Cent to his record label in 1998 and 2003 respectively, while contributing production on their albums. He has won six Grammy Awards, including Producer of the Year. Dr. Dre has also had acting roles in movies such as Set It Off, The Wash and Training Day. Rolling Stone ranked Dre at 56 on their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All-Time".
"I'm gonna try and change the course of Hip Hop again." Dr. Dre
Evan Williams went from 140 characters to more than $3 billion in less than a decade. The Twitter cofounder saw his net worth soar after his social media company went public to great fanfare in October. Though he still sits on Twitter’s board, Williams now focuses his efforts on blogging platform Medium, which raised $25 million in January.
Born in Clarks, Nebr., Williams grew up working on his family's soybean and corn farm. He dropped out of U. of Nebraska, learned to write computer code and, with a friend, launched a software-development outfit from which they created blogging platform Blogger. They sold it to Google in 2003. He spent 2 years at Google, then left to work on a startup that became Twitter. Williams was CEO from 2008 to 2010, before leaving to start social blogging platform Medium. He still has a nearly 10% stake in Twitter."
"Twitter isn't a social network, it's an information network." Evan Williams
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Elon Reeve Musk is the South African born, Canadian-American entrepreneur, engineer, inventor and investor who is CEO and CTO of SpaceX, CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors, and chairman of SolarCity. He is the founder of SpaceX and a cofounder of PayPal, Inc., Tesla Motors, and Zip2. He has also envisioned a conceptual high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop. No matter what's said about Elon there's no question that he's in it for humanity.
When he became hyper-rich after eBay bought PayPal he didn't spend his millions to develop a social media app. Instead he bought into an electric car company, declared that he wanted to send astronauts to Mars and invested in solar power.
Musk will soon reveal two new Tesla products: a "home" battery and a much bigger "utility scale" battery. Effectively Tesla will offer customers the opportunity to buy (or lease) a Tesla battery without shelling out $100,000 for a Tesla vehicle.
If you're a cynic you might say that Musk is just trying to create a new story for Wall Street to counter some of the skepticism that's emerged over Tesla's immediate financial prospects. The stock has been trading higher ahead of the announcement after dipping at the end of last year (it's still well down from its peak of $219 hit last September).
But that's not what Musk is doing. If you look at his companies Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity it's clear that together they represent his penchant for sustainable energy and his vision for a cleaner more responsible future for mankind.
To prevent global warming you need to completely change the transportation matrix and replace the internal combustion engine all together. That is part of Tesla's role for a cleaner future. To power Tesla's cars you need electricity that isn't generated by fossil fuels. That's clearly the contribution of SolarCity in the grand scheme of things. Musk wants to capture the free energy of the Sun and help save the planet. No wonder they based the Iron Man character on him.
And just in case some extinction level event should decimate the planet or it becomes uninhabitable SpaceX could play an important role in preserving mankind with their quest to habitate Mars. As Musk puts it, "It make us multi-planetary." We could use Mars as a lifeboat. Musk's whole system runs on power gathered from the Sun and if you want to do that at any kind of scale you need to store the energy.
"When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor."
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obert F. Smith is an American investor. He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm with over $14 billion in assets as of October 1, 2015. Smith is ranked by Forbes as 268th richest man in America, and the second wealthiest African-American on the list, trailing only Oprah Winfrey. He has a estimated net worth of $3 billion USD.
A 4th generation Coloradoan, Robert F. Smith was born to two parents with PhDs, who were school teachers. He grew up in a mostly African-American, middle-class neighborhood in Denver, and attended a newly-integrated school.
When he was an infant, his mother carried him at the March on Washington, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.
In 2000, Smith founded Vista Equity Partners, of which he is the Chairman and CEO. Vista has over $14 billion in cumulative capital commitments. Vista has exclusively focused on the enterprise software, data and technology enabled solutions sectors. Among Vista’s portfolio companies are Misys, TIBCO, Active Network, Bullhorn, Websense, Omnitracs, and Newscyle.
In January 2015, based on its performance over the last 10 years, Vista Equity Partners was named as world’s #1 performing private equity firm, according to the HEC-Dow Jones annual ranking conducted by Professor Oliver Gottschalg. Preqin, a consulting firm that tracks the industry, reports that Vista’s third fund returned $2.46 for every dollar invested, better than every other big fund raised between 2006 and 2010, the boom years for private equity.
"We are only bound by the limits of our own conviction."
Oprah Gail Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer, and philanthropist. She is best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was the highest-rated television program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011. Dubbed the "Queen of All Media", she has been ranked the richest African-American of the 20th century, the greatest black philanthropist in American history, and is North America's first multi-billionaire black person. Several assessments regard her as the most influential woman in the world. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and honorary doctorate degrees from Duke and Harvard.
Oprah was born into poverty in rural Mississippi to a teenage single mother and later raised in an inner-city Milwaukee neighborhood. She has stated that she was molested during her childhood and early teens and became pregnant at 14; her son died in infancy. Sent to live with the man she calls her father, a barber in Tennessee, Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19. Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime-talk-show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.
The power of Oprah's opinions and endorsement to influence public opinion, especially consumer purchasing choices, has been dubbed "The Oprah Effect". The effect has been documented in domains as diverse as book sales, beef markets, and election voting. Late in 1996, Oprah introduced the Oprah's Book Club segment to her television show. The segment focused on new books and classics and often brought obscure novels to popular attention. The book club became such a powerful force that whenever Winfrey introduced a new book as her book-club selection, it instantly became a best-seller.
"The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams."