Glenda Korporaal on the latest analysis of life after Warren Buffett
Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring
Value of Values
Berkshire Hathaway, the $30 billion conglomerate that Warren
Buffett built, continues to inspire investors. Buffett’s success in building a company that started with a disastrous investment in textiles some 50 years ago, but has gone on to make millionaires out of many investors, has been dissected by many authors. Books sporting the Buffett name are eagerly snapped up by wannabe billionaires. But what happens when the 84-year-old Buffett is gone? Can a successful business outlive its high-profile founder, particularly one as diverse as his company? In analysing the story of the house that Warren built, Cunningham concludes that there are nine different traits evident in the businesses Buffett has bought into that underwrite the group’s continued success. They include
being budget conscious, entrepreneurial, trustworthy and concerned about the company’s reputation and a determination to run the businesses for the long term. Cunningham concludes that Berkshire Hathaway will keep on keeping on long after Buffett is gone because of his emphasis on driving his own personal corporate
culture throughout his businesses. The fact is that no one really knows what will happen to the group after Buffett dies. Over time, companies can change after the founder or a strong CEO moves on. But more fundamental is the importance of corporate culture for anyone in business – executive or investor. Successful business
people build a strong corporate culture throughout their organisation, and successful investors learn to judge a company by its culture. The book is full of lessons for people in business who think long term like Buffett. Cunningham urges his readers to
think hard about how they can adapt his ideas to their own businesses and lives. One tip about Buffett himself – he reads a lot.
Readers will need to jump on the internet to buy this book about three Brazilian executives making their mark on corporate America. It tells the story of Jorge Paulo Lemann, Marcel Tellus and Beto Sicupira, the players behind investment company 3G Capital, which has bought into household US food businesses including Anheuser Busch, Burger King and Heinz. They are partnering with Warren Buffett, who is using 3G to shake up companies that have great international brand names but have
not been as efficiently run as they could be. The book starts with an introduction by Built to Last and Good to Great author Jim Collins who befriended Lemann in the 1990s when they met at Stanford Business School. The fact that the boys from Brazil have come from nowhere to run the world’s largest beer company makes their story worth reading.
Startupland gives an outsider’s view of succeeding in Silicon Valley. Software development company Zendesk was founded in Copenhagen in
2007 by entrepreneurs Mikkel Svane, Alexander Aghassipour and Morten Primdahl. They moved to San Francisco in 2009, built up the company with venture capital money and listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year. The company has more than 50,000 customers and operations in more than 150 countries. Unfortunately, the volume lacks
the depth and research of other books about start-ups or the US tech industry, but it shows an energetic, driven group of outsiders with a good
idea can succeed in the unique northern California corporate culture.