How To Succeed As An Entrepreneur
ABSTRACT (Via The New Yorker)
Annals of business about Ted Turner, John Paulson, and other predatory entrepreneurs. Writer tells about Ted Turner’s negotiations to purchase the Atlanta television station WJRJ in 1969. Turner was thirty years old and had inherited a billboard business from his father, which was doing fine. But he was bored, and television seemed exciting. The station was losing half a million dollars a year. Turner’s lawyer and accountant were firmly opposed to the idea. Describes how the television station fit with Turner’s billboard business and how Turner engineered the deal in such a way that he didn’t have to put a penny down. In a recent study “From Predators to Icons,” the French scholars Michel Villette and Chatherine Vuillermot set out to uncover what successful entrepreneurs have in common. They present case histories of businessmen who built their own empires—ranging from Sam Walton of Wal-Mart, to Bernard Arnault, of the luxury-goods conglomerate L.V.M.H.—and chart what they consider the typical course of a successful entrepreneur’s career.
The truly successful businessman, in Villette and Vuillermot’s telling, is anything but a risk-taker. He is a predator, and predators seek to incur the least risk possible while hunting. Would we so revere risk-taking if we realized that the people who are supposedly taking bold risks in the cause of entrepreneurship are actually doing no such thing? Writer tells about the hedge-fund manager John Paulson. By 2004-05, Paulson was increasingly suspicious of the real-estate boom. He decided to short the mortgage market, using a financial tool known as the credit-default swap, or C.D.S. Explains how C.D.S.s work and tells about research conducted by Paulson and his employees into the housing market, which showed that the bubble was about to burst. He bought C.D.S. contracts by the truckload and Wall Street thought he was crazy. In 2007 alone, Paulson & Co. took in fifteen billion dollars in profits. Paulson’s story makes it clear how different the predator is from our conventional notion of the successful businessman. Tells about Turner’s acquisition of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in 1976. Considers how this idea of entrepreneurship differs from the prevailing assumptions behind corporate compensation policies.