Thursday, April 16, 2009

That StartUp Mentality (2)

Image representing Steve Jobs as depicted in C...Image via CrunchBase

  • Larry Ellison's first wife left him. During the counseling before the divorce, Ellison said he will make a million dollars if she stayed with him. The wife laughed. They were barely getting by. Ellison worked just enough to pay his share of bills, and not more. One day he went ahead and bought a boat, made a down payment. That sent the wife into therapy. At his peak his net worth was close to 50 billion.
  • His second wife would put on make up before going to sleep and spend the night face up. Logic? So she did not have to rush in the morning.
  • His third wife left him for a Harvard MBA. He wrote to a friend. "Congratulations on getting and staying married."
  • Michael Dell started his computer business in his college dorm. One day his parents called from the airport. We are here to see you. He managed to get all his stuff into his neighbor's bathroom just in time.
  • Einstein was thought of as a no good student at high school. He barely managed to pass the entrance exams to college. When he was working on the Theory of Relativity, people routinely described him as someone "lazy."
  • After Steve Wozniak designed the PC, he took the prototype to his bosses at HP. They were utterly uninterested. When Steve Jobs found out Wozniak had done that, he was enraged.
  • The two YouTube guys had been swiping credit cards not long before they got bought by Google for $1.5 billion.
  • The two Google guys early on wanted to be bought by Yahoo. Yahoo was uninterested in them. Yahoo could have had the Google search engine for a few tens of millions.
  • One of the two Google founders Sergei Brin would go on dates in 2000, and he noticed there never were second dates. Women did not return calls. He had a dot com that had never made a dime. That did not look sexy when dot coms were going down left and right. Larry Page jokes that was a big reason they went from doing search only to search and ads. Later it has become search, ads and apps.
  • Amitabh Bachchan is the most recognized face on the planet, he has ruled the Hindi film industry for about four decades now. I grew up watching him. I used to imitate his hairstyle. I am trying to do it again. In his late 20s, early 30s, he had a decent job in Calcutta. He had a company car, for one, a big deal for the India of the late 1960s. He quit that job and went to Mumbai to give acting a shot. His mother was not happy. He had to struggle for a few years. He had a few flops in a row. Then he got a huge hit, and he never looked back. He is an ultimate family man.
  • One day Sam Walton showed up in Manhattan at an investment bank. I want to take my company public, who do I talk to, he asked the receptionist. Although Walmart was in debt, the fundamentals of the company were strong. After the receptionist found out he was from Arkansas, she took him to see this lone soul from Arkansas who worked at that bank.
  • For the longest time after founding Walmart, Walton did not need college graduates. College graduates were over educated and often lacking in basic common sense for the kinds of tasks he had. Then the company grew, and the first string of college graduates started to apply for jobs. The founding team got suspicious.
  • Bill Gates said he imagined he was going to be a millionaire, even a multi-millionaire, but that he never imagined he was going to be a billionaire.
  • When Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, he went on a tour of Europe. He met families of his Oxford friends. They routinely suggested he should come back to their country as ambassador.
  • When Warren Buffett launched his company, he approached a neighbor, friend. College education is getting expensive these days, he said. If you were to invest 10K in my company, by the time your kids grow up and are ready for college, that investment should take care of their college expenses, he said. The friend refused to invest. That 10K today would have been worth 300 million.

  • From the book, Soft War, An Intimate Portrait Of Larry Ellison And Oracle by Matthew Symonds, with commentary by Larry Ellison, pages 337-38.

    Jimmy says, "I've talked this over with Larry several times, and there's a big difference of perception about this. I was at home with my parents when we got a call from Larry. My father had a long talk with him over the phone, and when he hung up, he said: 'Larry's in trouble. He wants to start a company, and he needs money.' At that time, he'd just become a judge and his salary had dropped dramatically from what he'd been making as a lawyer, but he said, 'I'm not going to say no to the kid.' He went into my sister's savings account and sent him $6,000. The feeling was, he's calling us for help and we'll do all we can for him." Ellison's version is indeed a little different: "I told them that Oracle would go public in about a year or so and that anything they invested in the stock now would increase by a factor of ten. Of course, at the time they honestly believed that they would never see any of their money ever again. In spite of that, they gave me the money. It was an act of kindness. And it turned out to be a pretty good investment too." *

    * LE writes: I was wrong about Oracle stock's increasing in value by a factor of ten; it increased by a factor of ten thousand.

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