Warren Buffet is an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He is a regular on the top 5 list of the richest people in the world which commonly includes the likes of Bill Gates and Amancio Ortega.
Nicknamed the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the 4th most valuable company in the U.S.
Warren Buffett Bio, Education
Second among three children, Buffett who is the only son of Leila and Congressman Howard Buffett, was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1930. In addition to his service to the U.S, Howard was also a stockbroker while his wife was a full-time housewife.
Warren Buffet started his education at Rose Hill Elementary School, Omaha but along the line, his family moved to Washington, D.C. where he finished his foundation school and moved on to Alice Deal Junior High School. By 1947, he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School with the intention of skipping college to go straight into business. This was disallowed by his father.
Left with no choice but to continue his education, the investment guru, only 16 years old at the time, went ahead to study for a degree at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. However, two years into his higher education, Buffet transferred to the University of Nebraska to finish up his degree in business. At the age of 20, he graduated from the institution with almost $10,000 which he made from his childhood businesses.
In a bid to acquire more knowledge about business, Buffett went on to apply to Harvard graduate school but was denied admission. Nevertheless, having read the book, The Intelligent Investor in 1949, written by Benjamin Graham, a lecturer at Columbia Business School, Buffett decided to enrol into the institution in order to study under the renowned economist and investor.
He soon became an ardent believer in the principle of Prof. Graham who was of the opinion that profits could be generated through ownership of stocks that were undervalued on the market.
After he finished from Columbia University in 1951, Warren Buffett who had made Benjamin Graham an idol from the time he read his book, was determined to work with him. Speaking to Randall Lane about his obsession to work with the professor, Buffett said he made a pest of himself between 1951 and 1954, sending him frequent securities ideas until he finally got a letter from him (Graham) asking him to meet him the next time he visited New York. That was how Buffett got a chance to work as an analyst at Graham-Newman Corp.
Business Portfolio and Net Worth
Buffett’s interest in business and investment began when he was very young. He began by selling Coca-Cola bottles, chewing gum, and weekly magazines door to door. Also, he worked at his grandfather’s grocery store.
Warren Buffett also delivered newspapers, sold stamps and golf balls. His interest in the stock market was a result of spending time in a lounge of a regional stock brokerage which was near his father’s brokerage office. In 1941, he bought 3 shares for himself and 3 for his sister. Each piece was preferred at $38. The stock dropped by almost 30%. It did later rise to $40. Buffet sold here, and it soared to $200 in a few months. He bought a 40-acre farm at age 14. He had $90,000 in savings by the time he finished high school.
Having demonstrated keen business abilities from the time he was very young, it was obvious to all that Buffett was going to be successful in life.
After working for Benjamin Graham for a short while, Mr Warren was offered a chance of replacing his boss as the new junior partner, but he turned down the offer because he had already made up his mind to be independent.
Consequently, in 1956, at the age of 25, Buffett moved back to his hometown, Omaha, where he established the firm, Partnership Ltd. applying the principles he learned from Graham. He started the business with $105,100 and seven limited partners including his mother, aunt (Alice), sister, father-in-law, brother-in-law, college roommate and his lawyer.
By 1962, Warren Buffett became a millionaire from the partnership! It was, therefore, a thing of surprise when he announced to his limited partners in May 1969, his decision to close down the Buffett Partnership despite its success.
Thereafter, he focused on the development of Berkshire Hathaway, a group of textile milling plants he had earlier valued. By mid-1960s Buffett became the controlling shareholder and started investing in other businesses by diverting the flow of cash from the core business. This led to Berkshire Hathaway becoming one of the top five largest publicly traded companies in the world in 2017.
Today, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the 4th most valuable company in the U.S. and the fifth publicly traded company worldwide. In the last 5 decades, it has grown from a textile firm into a company with a market capitalization of $300 billion. There are 47 equity holdings valued at around $109 billion. 60% are concentrated on the ‘big four’: Wells Fargo (23.2%), Coca-Cola (15.4%), American Express (12.9%), and IBM (11.3%).
Some of his latest deals include $37 billion invested in Precision Castparts, which makes aerospace and industrial parts. He has also invested in 3G Capital, which is a firm run by a number of billionaires in Brazil. More to that, he is involved in deals for Heinz, Tim Hortons, Kraft Foods, and Burger King.
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The billionaire extraordinaire has a knack for investing in products that he likes to use. For instance; because he liked Fruit of the Loom’s shirts and underwear, he invested in the company. He recently invested in Trands Co., a Chinese firm because he loved a specific brand of suits.
Buffett also has investments in renewable energy. He has invested $15 billion in solar and wind energy.
His wealth got to $1 million when he was 30, something that he had predicted. It got to $1 billion when he was 56. He made $12.7 billion in 2013, which is an average of $37 million a day, and $1.5 million an hour. Buffett is a long-term investor, making $62.7 billion after he turned 50, and $60 billion after turning 60. His total wealth is $74.3 billion.
Despite having a fortune of 11 figures, he only earns $100,000 annually from Berkshire which he spends frugally.
Warren Buffett’s House
Interestingly, the foremost investment guru still lives in the same home that he bought in the upper-middle-class neighbourhood of Happy Hollow, Omaha, Nebraska, in 1958 and has no plans of putting it up for sale.
In the 1950s, the house built in 1921 was the home of Buffet’s long-time friend and top Coca-Cola executive, the late Donald Keough. It was worth $31,500 at the time he purchased it in 1958 but has now appreciated to an estimated $652,619.
The billionaire investor considers the house situated on a 6,570 square feet land as the third-best investment he has ever made. Considering Buffett’s extremely high financial standing, it is expected that the security of his home will be of utmost importance, hence, he built a fence around it and has security cameras guarding the property.
The iconic building features 5 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms.
Meanwhile, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO formerly owned a six-bedroom mansion in Laguna Beach’s Emerald Bay, California. He purchased the house in 1971 at the cost of $150,000. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Buffett revealed that reason for purchasing the house was not because he saw it as an investment but simply because his first wife, Susan, liked it.
Though the ocean-view home was primarily used for family vacations, it was reported that Buffett and his first wife, Susan, often entertained their friends at the house but because there were also so many visitors there, they acquired the house next door and built a connecting stairway between the two houses.
After Susan died in 2004, however, the house became rarely used so the following year, the connecting property was sold for nearly US$6 million.
The home constructed in 1936 was designed to provide the occupants with a most comfortable and memorable vacation experience possible. It had six rooms most of which allows a view of the surf and rocks. Five of the bedrooms have en-suite bathrooms while two of the rooms have private entrances. Also built separately from the main house is a large family room with an expansive viewing deck.
The kitchen decoration is simple with mostly white laminate countertops. But, it has all the necessary appliances one may need. There is also a dining area which opens to an adjacent living room that has its own fireplace. This beautiful home with mostly grey carpeting on the floor has a lot of wide-open windows which makes it possible for one to enjoy the external view from any part of the house.
Almost 50 years after the first part of the property was sold, Warren Buffet decided to put up the remaining 3,588 square foot home for sale at a listing price of US$11 million.
Even though it is general knowledge that Warren Buffett is one of the richest men in the world, he makes no effort to impress anyone by living an expensive lifestyle. Unlike many CEOs who cruise around in multimillion-dollar cars, the influential investor drives something very unassuming.
Warren Buffett bought a new car, a 2014 Cadillac XTS, in May 2014. Before then he was using a 2006 Cadillac DTS which he eventually donated to a charitable organization for girls named Girls Inc. and it was sold at the charity auction in February 2015.
Speaking of his lack of car-buying habits, the billionaire told Forbes in 2014 that he only drives about 3,500 miles a year, therefore, buying new cars as far as he is concerned, will not be frequent.
His daughter disclosed in a BBC documentary, that he only purchased cars he could get at reduced prices due to repairable body damages. He would get the cars fixed without a trace of the damage and this became a constant part of Buffett’s lifestyle.
Mr Buffett is just too unconcerned about how long he has used a car that his daughter said he doesn’t bother getting a new one until she tells him “This is getting embarrassing – time for a new car”.
Warren Buffett’s Wife
The “Oracle of Omaha” has been married two times. He met his first wife, Susan, when she was about to start college through his sister who was her roommate. They got married in 1952 when Susan was only 19 years old and he was 21. The couple had three children together – Susan Alice Buffett, Howard Graham Buffett and Peter Andrew Buffett.
Even though the bond between Warren and Susan lasted for 52 years until Susan passed on, they spent 27 years of their married lives living separately after Susan relocated to San Francisco in 1977. However, they maintained constant communication.
Despite being separated from her husband, Susan did not entirely leave him all by himself. She approved an unorthodox relationship that intrigued the American society when she asked Astrid Menks, a restaurant hostess and wine waiter she knew, to look after her husband. Eventually, Astrid moved in with him the following year.
The two women went ahead to “share” the billionaire without qualms and Christmas cards from the Buffett family were sent out by the trio signed: “Warren, Susie and Astrid.”
According to friends of the family, the relationship that existed among the trio was sophisticated, and Susan always only had good things to say about Menks.
Speaking in an interview with Charlie Rose, Susan commended Astrid Menks for taking great care of Warren describing her as a wonderful person. In a bid to explain the love triangle in an HBO documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett, the business tycoon simply said: “Susie put me together, and Astrid keeps me together”.
While Susan, actively involved in the civil rights movement, travelled around the world in support of causes like contraception and advocacy for women’s right to have abortions, Astrid was in charge of the home front. Despite living apart, Warren and Susan remained too much in love to completely stay away from each other, so they went on holiday and attended Berkshire Hathaway meetings together.
In 2003 when Susan had to undergo facial surgery and radiation treatment for oral cancer, Warren Buffett flew to San Francisco to see her every weekend and because Susie could only feed on a liquid diet, he also cut down his daily calorie intake to 1,000.
Susan described as a “balancing force” who “softened” Buffett, died at the age of 72, in 2004, after suffering a stroke.
Two years after the death of his first wife, Warren married Astrid Menks in a quiet 15-minute ceremony presided over by Judge Patricia Lamberty. Standing as witnesses at the small occasion were only Buffett’s daughter and Menks’ sister.
All through his time as the world’s richest man, Warren Buffett was criticised for not being involved in philanthropy. He, however, explained Susan’s influence on his decision to start giving away his wealth in 2009.
Consequently, he pledged to give 99% of his wealth to charity, with 83% going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is roughly $41 billion, making it the largest amount of money given to charity in human history.
He gave $2.8 billion to 5 different charitable organizations:
– The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation
– The Howard G. Buffett Foundation
– Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
– The Sherwood Foundation
– The NoVo Foundation
The money is to be spent on day-to-day operations and is not to be tucked away in endowments. Also, it (the money) was in form of class ‘B’ shares in Berkshire Hathaway Company. This was part of the ‘Giving Pledge’ campaign where Buffett is set to give at least half of his wealth to charity before he dies. He is also on a campaign to get other billionaires to sign the pledge. Bill Gates and Amancio Ortega have already signed up.
Buffett is Hillary Clinton’s biggest proponent. He has even donated to her campaign.
It has not been pure bliss for the Oracle of Omaha. In the mid-70s, Berkshire Hathaway experienced decreasing share price. His assets decreased to $44 million.