We’ve all heard the story of Ron Wayne: one of the original Apple co-founders who sold his 10 percent share in the company for just $800 back in 1976.
Today those shares would be worth $35 billion. (Don’t feel bad for him though, he had the opportunity to later return to the company and still chose to put happiness ahead of profit).
Surprisingly or not, the business world is filled with similarly fascinating and pivotal stories that have shaped the landscape of the global market. Here are five.
BMW is what it is today because Germany lost World War I
BMW originally started off as an aircraft manufacturing company. After Germany’s defeat in WWI, all airplane manufacturing companies had to cease production, one of the many terms of the Versailles Armistice Treaty. With the company facing bankruptcy, BMW shifted to motorcycle production, followed by the manufacturing of cars in 1928. Their current logo is a tribute to their aviation heritage.
The founder of FedEx saved the company by gambling its last $5,000 at a Vegas casino
Fred Smith successfully founded Federal Express in 1971. Three years later the company was on the verge of bankruptcy, unable to cover the fuel for its planes and unable to find any willing investors. So Smith flew to Vegas with $5,000 in his pocket and returned with $32,000.
His rationale behind taking a chance like that with the last of the company funds? “What difference does it make? Without the funds for the fuel companies, we couldn’t have flown anyway.”
Shortly after, Smith raised $11 million to keep the company afloat and by 1976 Federal Express made its first profit of $3.6 million.
50 percent of Dominos Pizza was traded for a second-hand VW Beetle
The year was 1961. Brothers Tom and James Monaghan had purchased “DomiNick’s” the year before for a grand total of $500. After eight months, James had had enough, and he decided to trade his stake in the business for his brother Tom’s used Beetle. 38-years later, Tom sold 93 percent of his stake in the company that was now known as Dominos for a cool $1 billion.
Puma and Adidas only exist because of a family feud
In the 1920s, brothers Rudolf and Adolf “Adi” Dassler were running a successful shoe manufacturing company, Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. During World War II a rift grew between the two.
After the culmination of the war, Rudolf was picked up by American soldiers and accused of being a member of the Waffen SS (he wasn’t). Rudolf was certain it was his own brother who turned him in.
The two split, with Rudolf forming Ruda (later renamed Puma), while Adi formed Adidas. The two never reconciled and are reportedly buried in the same cemetery, but as far away from each other as possible.
Coca Cola wouldn’t have existed without prohibition
John Pemberton, an injured Confederate colonel, wanted a substitute for his morphine addiction so he made a brew and called it French Wine Coca, a nerve tonic. When Atlanta passed prohibition legislation in 1886, Pemberton had to redo the formula, basically to make a non-alcoholic version of his tonic.
He named the drink Coca-Cola, arguably the most popular drink in the world today.
By Lydia Truesdale