The list of great American CEOs includes Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, Tim Cook of Apple and Satya Nadella of Microsoft. It also includes one of the world’s most wealthy men and the individual who is often described as the world’s greatest investor.
Warren Buffett celebrates his birthday the weekend, having turned 89 on August 30. He has been the CEO of Berkshires Hathaway, one of the world’s largest companies, since 1978. Over his decades as a CEO and investor, he has amassed a net worth of $80 billion, which makes him the third richest person in the world. He is also the oldest CEO of any Fortune 500 company.
Berkshire Hathaway was not always a massive conglomerate and the holder of Buffett’s huge portfolio of investments. It was a textile manufacturer until Buffett bought it in 1978 and it became his flagship company. Since then, he has made investments in hundreds of America’s largest public corporations. These currently include Amazon, Apple, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Visa, and Wells Fargo. Berkshire also has a number of companies it owns outright. These include several insurance companies, the huge Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, and jet rental operation NetJets. 24/7 Wall St. keeps track of the list of investments quarterly.
Buffett is famous things beyond his investment prowess. Born in Omaha, he has kept Berkshire’s headquarters there and has lived in the same modest home for decades. He is a notorious lover of fast food, in particularly Cherry Coke. His annual meeting in Omaha attracts tens of thousands of individual investors, most of whom can only afford modest investments in Berkshire.
Buffett has given away a great deal of his fortune. Much of it has gone to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Buffett says that almost of his estate will go to charities.
Buffett’s legacy will include both his philosophies about business and his opinions about a life well-lived. He has also offered a list of sane lessons for insane times. Among his most famous quotes, which are summaries of the nine decades since he was born:
Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.
Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
Together, they sum up some of his legacies.