Warren Buffett’s achievement is a source of endless fascination for us. Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate that Buffett controls, recently completed 50 years under his stewardship and the price of one Class A stock of Berkshire is over $200,000, making it the world’s sixth-largest company in terms of market cap. And whether Berkshire can sustain its impressive progress without Buffett has been the subject of endless discussion, both in the media and outside of it.
We believe the odds are in its favour as Buffett is no longer one man in a garage picking stocks. The core of Buffett’s rise is linked to collecting people around him who are as good as him, if not better. This remarkable journey has included Benjamin Graham, Susan Thompson, Charlie Munger, Katherine Graham, Ajit Jain, Bill Gates, Jorge Paulo Lemann et al. Like the tip of the iceberg, this luminary shortlist does not include his hand-picked successor, his investment managers or those who run his various businesses, the astute deals that he has struck in his lifetime or even GEICO’s Lorimer Davidson.
Buffett, however, makes light of the sophistication behind the scenes and attributes the ovarian lottery and the growth of the US economy as the major factors for his success. To paraphrase, America chose Buffett instead of Buffett choosing America. But the fact remains that many were born in the United States on August 30, 1930 with access to a similar environment.
You may not agree with everything he says or does but he is an unparalleled financial genius whose impact will be felt beyond his lifetime. Yes, like most business legends, he does have his critics. Even the hedge fund industry, which Buffett has long admonished, tries to throw a punch or two. But the one thing that many of his critics lose sleep over is how has he managed to hold on to his likeability and stature despite the in-between professional skirmishes and personal inconsistencies. As for where we stand, do we need to say more?