Friday, March 9, 2012

FULL DOCUMENTARY ---> "The Rockefellers" - The story of the Rockefeller family of America of Standard Oil company fame + MY ANALYSIS of the success of John D. Rockefeller Senior + Comparison to Bill Gates & WalMart

Short summary (DISCLAIMER: This is My interpretation, may NOT be accurate or correct. I am NOT responsible for your interpretation. This is only meant to stimulate your brains to try to do research yourself and understand history better. All the content below was written by me):

1839 - 1937
John Davison Rockefeller was born in 1839 and grew up to be a bright young boy in the Cleveland, Ohio area of USA. At an early age, he learnt book keeping / ledger entry (Accounting basics). He was smart to understand certain basic principles of business even at that early age, thanks to understanding Accounting. He saw an opportunity in the oil industry at his time and took up oil refinery business. He started small and then expanded using the principles of leverage. And he grew bigger.

As he got bigger, he used the principles of consolidation and became a Monopoly. With increasing economies of scale and with increasing influence, his monopoly grew stronger. He entered into a secret deal with the rail roads and often took actions to crush the competition / squeeze the oxygen out of the opposition (for example, by having extremely low sale price of oil products to wipe out competition, by buying out all the supplies - like oil barrels and / or chemicals used in the refining process - to prevent the competition from getting their hands on them etc). He bought a lot of companies of competitors by wiping them out. But he was not evil to the new companies he bought - he kept the jobs and the employees. But he did exert pressure on the companies that refused to sell - indirectly arm twisted them into selling. All this was BEFORE the automobiles were on the road. After the autobolies arrived, demand skyrocketed and wealth increased. When the company went public, the company increased in wealth as well.

He was exposed by a magazine writer. After which, he faced the wrath of the American people. They hated the "big & greedy corporation". People compared the company to a giant snake, an anaconda that would eat up all competition. With time, he realised the need to do charity. By this time, his only son. John Junior, had gotten a University education from the New England area. And was ready to take the reins. His son faced many challenges shouldering the responsibilities. The American public had already been angered by the family and thought they were Corporate bullies. By work of charities through the Foundation work, public image improved. And then, the next generation arrived and each of the children did well in their public lives and brought good name to the family. The good name and prestige of the Rockefeller family was restored and they became known as the benefactors of humanity.

JDR senior changed the way business was done in America. He was the first person to build a semblance of a mighty Corporation in America (at one time, he controlled 80% of the world's oil). This was before the Middle East oil boom. The future generations merely continued the legacy of JDR senior (ok, they did good work too, but the originalgenius was JDR senior). Through out, there was benefit from excellent upbringing by the parents and the following of Christian faith put to good use.

To summarize, what were the factors that worked for JDR and his subsequent generations? My interpretation:
  • JDR senior was good at basic Accounting. He was a meticulous book keeper. That helped a LOT.
  • JDR Sr understood the principles of business well.
  • JDR utilized Economies of Scale
  • JDR utilized Consolidation
  • JDR utilized Monopoly
  • JDR utilized First Mover Advantage principles.
  • JDR wiped out the competition by buying them up or running them into the ground - to shut shop
  • JDR used tricks like undercover secret deals to succeed
  • JDR used tricks like using his own companies as fronts to pose as competition and behave in the way he wanted them to create a herd mentality that created a market environment he wanted.
  • JDR sent his kids to the best schools (New England area of USA / Ivy League schools) to get excellent education
  • JDR had a good upbringing by his parents who taught him good moral values - he was a good Christian.
  • JDR was taught how to be frugal by parents.
  • The start of the automobile era increased the wealth of Standard Oil
  • When Standard Oil went public, wealth increased
  • The children did a good job of continuing the legacy
  • The Foundation work helped restore good name
  • Another advantage was that the oil in the Middle East was not discovered then and there was a lot of oil in America (not any more - not much oil in America now and lot of oil in the Middle East now)
  • I personally see a lot of common things between JDR & Bill Gates. JDR senior was to Standard Oil in the past what Bill gates has been to Microsoft iin the recent past. Or vice versa.
  • I also see a lot of similarity between Standard Oil Company and WalMart - the Monopolistic behaviour, the crushing / destroying of competition (al beit gently, now, not barbarically) 
Well, this was my quick interpretation :) At least, I am glad that I watched this documentary. It helped me understand history better. Business students should know business history as best as they can :)


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