This week sees the birth of the men behind IBM, Ferrari and Rothchilds, while the likes of Enron and UBS won’t remember this time quite as fondly…
U.S. Battleship Maine was sunk after hitting a mine near Cuba. The news sent the US stock down 16% over the following 4 weeks, due to trader’s fear that war was soon approaching. By April the U.S. was officially at war with Spain.
Franklin Roosevelt escaped an attempted assassination in Miami on this day. The shooter was protesting the terrible economy and stated that people were starving before firing multiple shots at the newly elected president.
Berkshire Fine Spinning Associates announced that it would be acquiring Hathaway Manufacturing Company for 400,000 shares of Berkshire common stock, thus creating Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Cisco System Inc. IPO at $18 per share. At the peak of the tech bubble Cisco reached as high as 165,000% from its IPO. In March 2000, Cisco actually overtook Microsoft as the most valuable public company in the world with a market cap of $579bn. Cisco never reached its highs of 2000 again, in November 2020 they had a market cap of around $173bn and in 2021 the stock traded at 47.29 per share.
Born in New York on this day in 1874, Thomas J. Watson was once a teacher, accountant and travelling salesman before serving in the role that would play a pivotal part in computerising the modern world. As CEO and chairman of IBM, he coined its famous THINK slogan and oversaw the company's phenomenal rise in the USA and around the world.
When the 15,007,034th model of the Volkswagen Beetle emerged from the VW factory in Wolfsburg, Germany on this day in 1972, it broke Ford's record for car production to become the world's best-selling car, overtaking a four-decade old run for the Model T. The record has since been surpassed by... the Toyota Corolla.
Petrolheads assemble, for on this day in 1898 one Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was born in Modena, Italy. Following a career as a professional driver for Alpha Romeo, the man known as "il Commendatore" broke ranks with the team to form his own, Scuderia Ferrari, and a legend of the automobile industry emerged.
Swiss banking behemoth UBS agreed to pay the sum of $780m in fines to the US government. And, in a bid to avoid a criminal prosecution, they also agreed to provide names of some of the 19,000 US customers with Swiss bank accounts. Nervous American UBS customers were kindly invited to make themselves known before any names were received. "Timing is extremely important. A knock on the door is obviously too late to do a voluntary disclosure" said a smiling IRS at the time.
The domain name Apple.com was registered. And it wasn't to sell fruit.
Former Enron chief exec Jeffrey Skilling was charged with fraud and insider trading for his role in the 2001 Enron scandal. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison before being released in February 2019 after serving 12 years. His increasingly erratic behaviour and Enron's collapse is depicted in the award-winning 2005 documentary "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room."
Facebook buys Whatsapp for a whopping $19.6bn in one of the larges tech buys in history. This despite the ad-free messaging service losing $138m and bringing in just $10.2m in 2013, further proof that data is the new global currency.
British foreign secretary Anthony Eden resigns in protest at Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's decision to negotiate with Italian leader Benito Mussolini. He eventually became Churchill’s Secretary State for War.
The Soviet Union launched Mir, the world's biggest space station. Assembly in orbit took 10 years, before it was decommissioned in 2001 in favour of being replaced by the International Space Station, where humans could reach their awesome potential by doing things like... covering David Bowie.
If putting humankind into permanent orbit seemed an impossible goal then it had nothing on the other feat achieved on the very same day, as the British and French actually agreed on something. That something was the announcement of the creation of the Channel Tunnel, known back then as the "Chunnel", arguably the worst portmanteau ever created. Before the word Brexit.
The first steam engine to run on rails was demonstrated by British engineer Richard Trevithick. Unconfirmed reports suggest that it still runs quicker than Southern Rail.
The Association of Stockbrokers in Hong Kong was renamed the Hong Kong Stock Exchange today in 1914. In a suitably apt metaphor in the era of electronic trading, its floor trading lobby was closed in October 2017 to be converted into a museum.
Warren Buffett dipped his toe into the insurance industry for the first time today in 1967 as his Berkshire Hathaway company shelled out $8.6m on National Indemnity Company and National Fire and Marine Insurance Company. In 2004 Buffett admitted that “had we not made this acquisition, Berkshire would be lucky to be worth half of what it is today.”
Mayer Amschel Rothschild was born on this day in 1743 and went on to create the banking empire that continues to bear his family's name today. Depending on how many tin foil hats you own, you may believe the company is "behind" everything from the illuminati to how much snow is going to fall on your roof on Christmas Day.
For the first time since 1978, the UK lost its AAA Credit Rating from rating agency Moody's, a name that also aptly described chancellor George Osborne's demeanour that day. Shadow chancellor Ed Balls labelled it "humiliating", three years before he appeared on Strictly Come Dancing...