After reading Atlas Shrugged I wondered if there are great companies run by near-heroic men in real life too. In the so called Guilded Age of America we had great businesses founded and run by men like John Rockefeller, Dale Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Henry Ford, etc. These companies were great successes while they provided the goods and services that people wanted to buy. Cars became available to the masses thanks to Ford's assembly line. The continent was crossed on Vanderbilt trains. All that, and more, was powered by oil from Rockefeller's wells and made from Carnegie's steel.
Who are the great industrialists of today? What are the great companies of today?
Bill Gates and Microsoft may qualify. So might Steve Jobs and Apple. Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com, too.
I could point to a few more but the problem with many of the largest companies today is that they get an awful lot of laws, tariffs, and restrictions from their Washington lobbying efforts. Too many companies today are large becasue of their money in Washington. Would there have been a restrictive incandescent light bulb law had GE not had a good relationship with the federal government and an alternative light bulb that no one would buy if not for government laws restricting the sale of their competitors. (And some misinformation about CFLs being better for the environment. And misinformation about CFLs actually being able to light up a room.)
I'm sure that the great industrialists of the past were flawed, but they were still great.
Two things inspired me to write this post. First was that I recently read an article about Jim Koch the founder of the company that makes Sam Adams beer. With only 1% of the American beer market he's no Rockefeller, but I have neither read nor heard anything about him or his company that I disliked.
The Boston Beer Company is currently my favorite company in the word. Although I will admit to being heavily influenced by my fondness for its product. [Excepting Guinness] I wonder why those of you who drink beer drink anything else.
My other inspiration for writing this post was my interest in a certain video game. Long ago I spent time playing several Sim City games. I had heard that there was a new one out, and so I checked it out.
And becasue of the mean things that I say about it, I don't want to include the name of its stupid new manufacturer, or its stupid CEO, in the same post as the other companies that I have listed in this post.
To be continued...in a few hours.