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The man affectionately referred to as the “Oracle of Omaha” is Warren Buffett. Buffet has distinguished himself for decades as among the greatest of investment gurus in modern history. He has an earned reputation as one of the most respected businessmen and is consistently ranked as one of the richest people. Besides turning everything he touches into gold, Buffett is an incredibly generous philanthropist intent on giving away his vast fortune before he dies.
Warren Buffett was born in 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska. His father Howard served as a successful stockbroker and eventually as a U.S. congressman. The boy began to prove his abilities for business and finance in his early years. His friends have revealed that as a boy the math prodigy could figure the sums of large columns of numbers in his head. He demonstrated this uncanny ability for others as he grew older. By only 16 years old, Buffett had entered the University of Pennsylvania business school. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at 20 having amassed a small fortune of around $10,000 earned from childhood businesses.
The budding youth read a life changing work The Intelligent Investor, Benjamin Graham’s 1949 book. This led him to work on his master’s degree under the guidance of this author and investor at Columbia Business School. In 1951 once he earned this degree, he worked as a securities salesman at Buffett-Falk & Company for three years before serving as an analyst for his mentor Graham at the Graham-Newman Corp for another two years.
In 1956 Warren Buffett established his own company the Buffett Partnership Limited back in hometown Omaha. He employed Benjamin Graham’s investing techniques to identify companies which were undervalued and earned millions of dollars. By 1965 he had gained control of textile company Berkshire Hathaway. He dissolved his partnership operation in order to focus exclusively on Berkshire Hathaway in 1969.
Within a few years Buffet had phased out the company’s main textile making division and turned this outfit into an investment holding company. He began to acquire shares and assets in companies involved in media like The Washington Post, in energy such as Exxon, and in insurance like GEICO. The Oracle of Omaha could even take failing companies and turn them into thriving successes, as he did in 1987 with Salomon Brothers, a scandal ridden investment firm.
His holdings later included Coca-Cola, Citigroup Global Markets Holdings, the Gillette Company, and Graham Holdings Company. He served as a director of these companies at various points, including from 1989 to 2006 at Coca-Cola. In more recent years, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has bought H. J. Heinz, merged it with third biggest food and beverage business in North America Kraft Foods Group, and acquired battery giant Duracell.
Warren Buffett has also been among the most generous and celebrated of philanthropists in history. Since June of 2006, he has been working towards giving all of his fortune to charity. His donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation represented 85 percent of all of his wealth. This proved to be the single biggest charitable donation in all of American history. He and Bill gates have been working on the Giving Pledge campaign from 2010 to encourage other wealthy donors to contribute to these philanthropic endeavors. Despite this generosity with his massive wealth, Buffett still ranks near the head of the world Forbes billionaire list each year.