It is absolutely nuts to me to see this clip of Warren Buffett that was discovered. In it, he was just shy of 32 years old, roughly the same age I am now. He was completely unknown outside a tiny circle of people, though rich, wasn’t one of the richest men in the country (let alone world!) and this was the year he dissolved his six or so partnerships so he could merge them into a single partnership, setting up office in Kiewit Plaza, where he remains to his day. Which, I imagine, was a slight improvement over his bedroom and sun porch, where he had reportedly been working during the years he built he base of his fortune prior to the fancier digs.
With the shareholder letter being released this upcoming Saturday, I figured the fellow Berkshire Hathaway owners would enjoy it. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. A long enough stretch, a high enough compounding rate, and a singular focus was about to take this young man on a ride that would culminate in him constructing one of the largest corporate entities in the history of human civilization, almost entirely by force of his mind. This was the year he began buying shares of the shares of textile mill through Tweedy, Browne, paying around $7 or $8 per share. Those same shares just closed on the NYSE at $222,855 per share.
It’s a crazy thing. Especially when you consider that it happened because a couple of years later, in 1964, the man who ran the place, Seabury Stanton, was supposed to buy out the position at a predetermined price but decided he wasn’t going to honor their agreement. Stanton shaved a 1/8th tick off the promised amount. It pissed Buffett off so much that he elected himself chairman of the board and effectively fired the guy in an act of youthful revenge (technically, I think Stanton walked out because he knew what was coming), altering the course of history.
Background details according to the description: “Warren Buffett was interviewed by KMTV, Omaha in early June of 1962. A University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communication documentary team discovered the film clip in the Nebraska State Historical Society archives in March of 2013. The clip likely never aired on local television, according to an independent analysis by retired videographers and producers. It is a long clip for broadcast news, it showed no signs of editing, and its condition is extremely good. The film clip was used in the new documentary, “Mt. Buffett the Teacher” (2013), which describes Warren Buffett’s University of Omaha teaching of investing from 1951 through 1962. This is the earliest known visual recording of the financial icon, yet nobody seemed to know it existed.”
Charlie Munger, meanwhile, was out in California investing in real estate after surviving a divorce and near bankruptcy. What an insane journey. Here’s a clip of the two in recent years, talking to Fortune magazine.