The First Billionaire
Rockefeller’s story is a great example of how a detail-oriented entrepreneur could become the richest man in the world, leveraging the majority of America’s richest natural resource of the early 1900’s– oil – without the need to own a single oil field, or a single drop of oil.
Like many billionaires, Rockefeller had a closer relationship with numbers than people. His biographer, David Freeman Hawke, wrote, “John D Rockefeller seemed to have no inner life unconnected with numbers.” At 16 he began work as a $4-a-week bookkeeper for a Cleveland dry-goods merchant, and from the numbers learned about commerce. He set up his own produce business with a $1,000 loan from his father when he was 19.