Berkshire Hathaway Board: Who Are They?
The director ranks are stacked with heavy hitters. It’s also a fairly gray-haired bunch. Of the 12 directors, seven are 69 years old or older, and most of the board members have long-standing business or personal ties to Warren Buffett.
Here are short bios on each of the Berkshire Hathaway directors:
Warren Buffett: He has been chairman as well as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway since 1970. Buffett also owns a controlling stake in the company.
Howard G. Buffett: The middle of Warren Buffett’s three children, and the namesake of Warren Buffett’s father, a former U.S. congressman. (Howard’s middle name, Graham, is a nod to Warren Buffett’s former mentor, value-investing guru Benjamin Graham.) Howard runs a farm and is president of a charitable foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.
Stephen Burke: Executive vice president of cable operator Comcast, and new CEO of Comcast’s majority-owned entertainment company, NBCUniversal. Burke’s father, former media executive Dan Burke, knew Buffett and worked with another Berkshire director, Tom Murphy. Burke is the newest Berkshire director, joining in late 2009.
Susan Decker: The former Yahoo executive has been a Berkshire director since 2007. “We are lucky to have her,” Buffett wrote about Decker in his 2006 investor letter. “She scores very high on our four criteria and additionally, at 44, is young – an attribute, as you may have noticed, that your Chairman has long lacked.”
Bill Gates: The software mogul has known Buffett for 20 years. The two men jointly have pushed fellow billionaires to give away the majority of their fortunes to charity, through an organization called the Giving Pledge. Buffett also played a role in Gates’s engagement, according to Buffett biography, “The Snowball.” On Easter 1993, Gates diverted his plane to Omaha and surprised his now wife, Melinda, with an engagement-ring shopping excursion with Buffett. The location: Borsheim’s jewelry store, owned by Berkshire Hathaway.
David S. Gottesman: The octogenarian started his own investment firm, First Manhattan Co., and over the years he has talked stocks with and brought investment ideas to Buffett. For example, Gottesman introduced Buffett to the Hochschild-Kohn department store in Baltimore, which Buffett bought in 1966.
Charlotte Guyman: The former Microsoft official is a close friend of Bill Gates’s wife, Melinda, according to Fortune magazine. Guyman also was once dispatched to help speed up the website of the Berkshire-owned insurer, Geico.
Donald Keough: The ex-CEO of Coca-Cola is a longtime family friend of Warren Buffett. The Buffetts and the Keough families had been neighbors in Omaha. Buffett also served on Coke’s board for 17 years until 2006, and he remains a large Coke investor. According to “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist,” Keough also years ago persuaded Buffett to switch from his quaff of choice – Pepsi laced with cherry syrup – to Cherry Coke, which the Oracle of Omaha now drinks religiously.
Charles T. Munger: Warren Buffett’s longtime friend and investing partner.
Tom Murphy: The former CEO of television company Capital Cities Communications convinced Buffett to buy 15% of Capital Cities in 1985 to save the company from a corporate raider. Later, Buffett helped bring about the sale of Capital Cities to Disney in 1995. Murphy also shares some of the same frugal tendencies at Buffett. As a manager of a TV station in Albany early in his career, Murphy sought to save money by painting only the sides of the building that faced the road.
Ronald Olson: Another longtime Berkshire staple, Olson and Berkshire’s Charlie Munger are partners in the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.
Walter Scott Jr.: The former CEO of Peter Kiewit Sons’ Inc., an iconic construction company in Berkshire’s hometown of Omaha. In his book, “Pleased but not Satisfied,” David Sokol calls Scott “a man of complete integrity and enormous business wisdom.” Scott also wrote the preface to Sokol’s book, and wrote: “In successfully writing a book on business principles that reads more like a novel, David should be pleased with this effort. But given his choice of a title, and his natural inclination to not be satisfied with the status quo, I anticipate we will see future editions that are even more interesting and instructive.”
Complete source: LIVE BLOG: The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting – Deal Journal – WSJ.