It was interesting picking up a copy of the special Forbes “The 400 Richest People in America” edition and compare it to the much thinner and less comprehensive BRW Rich List.
Thumbing through the names an interesting trend emerged – numerous American billionaires have companies named after them, something which is not so apparent in Australia. This is just a sample of the better known examples from the Forbes Rich List:
|Herb Allen||Allen & Company||investment banking||2bn||133|
|Anthony & Barbara Cox||Cox Communications||media||12.5bn||12|
|Riley Bechtel||Bechtel||engineering & construction||2.4bn||109|
|Michael Bloomberg||Bloomberg LP||financial information||5.1bn||40|
|James & Margaret Cargill||Cargill||agriculture||1.8bn||164|
|Michael Dell||Dell Computers||computers||18bn||4|
|Roy Disney||Walt Disney||entertainment||1.2bn||283|
|Ray Dolby||Dolby Laboratories||sound||1.4bn||235|
|William Clay Ford||Ford Motor Co||automotive||1.2bn||283|
|Ernest Gallo||Gallo Inc||wine||1.2bn||283|
|Donald Hall||Hallmark||greeting cards||1.8bn||164|
|Hearst Family||Hearst Corp||media||2bn||133|
|William Hilton||Hilton Corp||hotels/casinos||1bn||346|
|Jon Huntsman||Huntsman Chemicals||chemicals||1.6bn||198|
|Peter Kellogg||Kellogg Inc||packaged food||2.2bn||116|
|Leonard and Ronald Lauder||Estee Lauder||cosmetics||3bn||73|
|Ralph Lauren||Ralph Lauren||fashion||3.3bn||67|
|Richard Marriott||Marriott Hotels||hotels||1.4bn||235|
|Forrest & John Mars||Mars Inc||confectionary||10bn||19|
|Charles Schwab||Charles Schwab Inc||discount stockbroking||3.8bn||58|
|Thomas Siebel||Siebel Systems||IT||1.3bn||258|
|John Simplot||Simplot Inc||potatoes||2.5bn||93|
|Martha Stewart||Martha Stewart Living||housewares||970m||377|
|Donald Trump||Trump Inc||real estate||2.7bn||83|
|William Wrigley||Wrigley Inc||chewing gum||3.4bn||65|
The comparison with Australia might reflect the more modest nature of Australian business where naming something after yourself is considered a bit egotistical.
A quick glimpse at BRW throws up names such as Gerry Harvey (Harvey Norman), the Smorgon family (Smorgon Steel) and the Myer family, but after that it’s relatively slim pickings.
Are Australians too modest to merge their name with their business, or are we just hopeless at generating brands of any description? Why isn’t it Pratt Board, rather than Visy Board and Lowyfield, rather than Westfield? Why isn’t it Packer Broadcasting Ltd or Murdoch Media? Your thoughts would be appreciated to [email protected].