One of the richest and most respected businessmen, Warren Buffet is the king of investment, the go-to person for every investor looking for guidance and inspiration. After all, he is not called the “Oracle of Omaha” for no reason. According to Forbes, he is currently the second richest person in the world, with a net worth of $75.6 billion.
As CEO and Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, he may be rich, but his wealth was not simply handed to him on a silver spoon. Let us take a look at his journey to get to where he is today.
Warren’s early life
Born on August 30, 1930, as Warren Edward Buffet in Omaha, Nebraska to Leila and Howard Buffet, Warren had the chance to meet top Wall Street players at a young age as his father himself was a stockbroker and a Congressman. To this day, he is known for his excellent mathematical skills, which he demonstrated since he was a child.
Warren proved to have an aptitude for investment and business since a young age when he bought his first stock at the age of 11. He purchased three shares of Cities Services Preferred at $38 each. Soon after, the price dropped to $27. But a young Warren decided to hold on to them, and instead, sold them as soon as the price went up to $40. He later realized this was a huge mistake because the stock eventually increased to almost $200. He said that this experience taught him that when it comes to investment, one has got to be patient.
At 13, he was already making his own money by distributing newspapers and through the sales of his horseracing tip sheets. He also filed his very first tax returns the same year, claiming his bike as a tax deduction of $35.
Then in 1942, Warren’s father, Howard Buffet was elected to the House of Representatives, because of which the family had to move to Fredricksburg, Virginia. A teenage Warren went to Washington D.C’s Woodrow Wilson High School where he started his first business venture with a friend. They spent $25 for a pinball machine, which they installed in a local barbershop. Only after a few months, they earned enough profits to buy more machines before the business was eventually sold for $1,200.
Higher education and the start of Warren’s career
By the time he was 16 years old, Warren, through his various ventures, had saved as much $53,000 (adjusted for inflation). As he already had a huge amount of money as a teenager, he did not see the point of going to college. But his father insisted, so he went to the prestigious Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. After two years there, he moved to Nebraska and graduated from the University of Nebraska.
He then decided to attend Columbia Business School to study under renowned author and economist, Ben Graham, who wrote “The Intelligent Investor”. Warren had read this book when he was 19 and said that Graham’s concept of “value investing” was life-changing for him. In 1951, he received his master’s degree, after which he worked at his father’s company Buffett-Falk & Company for three years. In 1952, he got married to Susan Thompson, with whom he had three children.
In 1954, Ben Graham offered Warren a job at his company Graham-Newman Corp., so he and his family moved to New York. Warren made a hefty sum there, which was around $105,000 (adjusted for inflation) per annum. Then in 1957, he bought a five-bedroom house for $31,500 in Omaha, where he lives till today.
In 1956, Warren founded his own firm, Buffett Partnership Ltd, in Omaha, which grew to be extremely successful. He was especially skilled in identifying companies which were undervalued, among which Berkshire Hathway, a textile company was one. In the early 60s, Warren started buying Berkshire Hathway’s stocks, and by 1965, he was in control of the textile company.
Warren’s expansion of Berkshire Hathway
Despite its success, Warren decided to dissolve Buffet Partnership Ltd. and instead chose to focus on developing Berkshire Hathway. He made it more than just a textile company by purchasing assets in insurance, media, and oil. Eventually, the company grew to be immensely successful, earning Warren the nickname of the “Oracle of Omaha”.
From 1989 to 2006, Warren invested in Coca-Cola and was the company’s director. He has also been the director of The Gillette Company, Graham Holdings Company as well as Citigroup Global Market Holdings. In 2013, he bought the food processing company H.J. Heinz, as well as the battery company Duracell. He later bought Kraft Foods Group and in 2015, merged it with Heinz. Then in 2014, Warren invested a whopping $3 billion in the fast-food chain, Burger King.
The Warren Buffett brand
Warren is known for his simple life despite being a millionaire, and his philanthropy. The 87-year old still lives in his Omaha home he bought in 1957, does not own a cell phone, and usually has a McDonald’s breakfast that costs no more than $4. Instead of throwing lavish parties, he like to play bridge and has been driving the same modest car for years.
Warren has also pledged to donate most of his wealth to charity along with his long-time friend Bill Gates and wife Melinda Gates via “The Giving Pledge”. In fact, he has committed 85 percent of his wealth to this foundation.