Famous Entrepreneurs

Below is a list of the famous entrepreneurs that make up the Common Knowledge Scholarship Foundation‘s High School Business Scholarship.  Review the information below to prepare for the scholarship quiz (in no particular order).

Steve JobsName: Steve Jobs

Company: Apple

Notable contribution: iPhone, iPad, Macintosh

Net Worth: $11 Billion (approx at time of death)

Steve Jobs was born in San Francisco, California, on February 24, 1955, was put up for adoption and adopted as an infant by Clara and Paul. His mother Clara was an accountant and his father Paul a Coast Guard veteran and machinist. As a boy, his father showed him how to take apart and reconstruct electronics, a hobby that intrigued him and peaked his interest in how things work.

At the age of 21 Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak started Apple Computer in Jobs’ garage. To raise the money to get started Jobs sold his Volkswagen bus and Wozniak sold his scientific calculator. Their first computer, the Apple I initially sold for $666.66 and earned them approximately $774,000. In 1984, Apple released the revolutionary Macintosh computer which was the start of a long list of technology that consisted of the iPod, iPhone, iPad, now the Apple watch.

In 1985 Jobs left Apple and started a new hardware and software company called NeXT, Inc which he later sold to Apple for $429 million. In 1986 he purchased an animation company from George Lucas (Star Wars) which became Pixar Animation Studios. Pixar Studios went on to produce wildly popular animation films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The studio merged with Walt Disney in 2006, making Steve Jobs Disney’s largest shareholder.

In 1997 Jobs returned to Apple as the CEO. He had a self-imposed annual salary of $1 a year (and a pretty healthy size stock option package). It was during his second stint at Apple that he moved the world into the iWorld, removed buttons from phones and made songs available one at a time for 99 cents!

In 2003, Jobs discovered that he had a neuroendocrine tumor, a rare form of pancreatic cancer. Instead of immediate surgery, Jobs chose to try and treat the problem by altering his diet and experimenting with more non-invasive treatments. In 2004, he had a successful surgery to remove the pancreatic tumor.

On October 5, 2011, after battling pancreatic cancer for nearly a decade, Steve Jobs died in Palo Alto at the age of 56.

BGatesName: Bill Gates

Company: Microsoft, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Notable contribution: MS-DOS, Microsoft software, Windows, Office, Server

Net Worth: $79 Billion 2015

Bill Gates was born on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington.  As a child he loved to read and reportedly spent hours scouring reference books such as the encyclopedia and later the computer programming manuals. He also loved games of strategy found in Monopoly and Risk (his favorite).

Gates attended Lakeside School, a prep school in Seattle where he excelled in math and science.  It was at Lakeside School he became fascinated with computers.  It was also here he became friends with Paul Allen, his future business partner and Microsoft co-founder.  The two were reportedly technologically mischievous, once losing their computer privileges for hacking a company’s computer system to get more time on the terminal.  They later offered to debug that system and wrote a payroll program for that same altair-covercompany.  For the Lakeside School they were asked to and did write a class-scheduling program.

In 1970, at the age of 15, Bill Gates and Paul Allen developed software called “Traf-o-Data,” a program that monitored traffic patterns in Seattle, which made them $20,000.

Bill Gates scored 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT test before graduating from Lakeside in 1973. He enrolled at Harvard University, heading for career in law but during his freshman year spent more time in the computer lab than in the library.

In the summer of 1974, Paul Allen showed him a Popular Electronics magazine that had an article on the Altair 8800 a mini-computer made by Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), a small company in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  They contacted the company, saying that they were working on a software program that would run the Altair computer. MITS president Ed Roberts asked them for a demonstration of the software that the two didn’t really have! Gates and Allen spent the next two months writing the software at Harvard before Allen traveled to Albuquerque to demonstrate the product that had never actually been tested on an Altair computer. The software worked perfectly.

Gates dropped out of Harvard and he and Allen moved to New Mexico to begin a partnership which was the beginning of the company we now know as Microsoft.

  • In 1975, Gates and Allen formed a partnership called Microsoft.
  • In 1978, Microsoft moved to Seattle Washington and grossed $2.5 million
  • 1978 to 1981,
    • Microsoft grew from of 25 people to over 120.
    • Revenue increased four times from $4 million to $16 million
    • Microsoft incorporated – Gates, president and chairman of the board and Allen, executive vice-president
  • In 1983, Microsoft was global with offices in Great Britain and Japan
  • In 1985, Microsoft launched Windows
  • In 1986, Microsoft initial public offering (IPO) at $21 per share
    • Gates held 45 percent of the company’s 24.7 million shares and
    • became an instant millionaire at age 31 ($234 million)
  • In 1987, Bill Gates became a billionaire when the stock raised to $90.75 a share
  • In 1999, Gates’s wealth briefly topped $101 billion
  • In 2000, the formation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a $28 billion contribution from the name sakes

FBZuchName: Mark Zuckerburg

Company: Facebook

Notable contribution: Social Media, Facebook

Net Worth: $35 Billion 2015

Mark Zuckerberg was born on May 14, 1984, in White Plains, New York. His first programming success came at about the age of 12 when he created a messaging system called “Zucknet.” The program was used in his father’s dental practice allowing the receptionist to inform the doctor of new patients without having to yell across the room.

Zuckerberg attended Phillips Exeter Academy, a preparatory school in New Hampshire where he excelled at literature and became the captain of the fencing team. While in high school, he created Synapse, a music software program similar to Spotify and Pandora. The project caught the attention of companies such as AOL and Microsoft, where he was offered and declined software development jobs.

In 2002, Zuckerberg attended Harvard University. Here he built a program called CourseMatch, software that helped students choose their classes. He also created software he called Facemash, which allowed users to compare pictures of two students and vote on which was more attractive. The program was well known on the Harvard campus but was considered inappropriate by the university’s administration and shut down.

His work on CourseMatch and Facemash brought him in contact with Divya Narendra, and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, three Harvard students that had an idea for a project they called Harvard Connection, a dating site for Harvard students. Zuckerberg helped with the project, but ultimately stopped to work on his own social networking project with three of his friends. The project called The Facebook allowed people to create their own profiles, upload photos, and communicate with other users.

The Facebook (later shortened to just Facebook) was started and ran out of Kirkland H33, a dorm room at Harvard University. At the end of his sophomore year in Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college, moved to Silicon Valley and began working on Facebook full time.
Zuckerberg received a $12.7 investment from venture capital firm Accel Partners. By the end of 2005 Facebook was open to university and high school students and had 5.5 million users. He turned down offers from companies to advertise on Facebook focusing on expanding the site with more features and allowing outside developers to work on the project.

In 2006, the creators of Harvard Connection claimed that Zuckerberg stole their idea, and insisted the software developer needed to pay for their business losses. A lawsuit ensued which resulted in a settlement of $65 million.

In September 2010 Zuckerberg donated $100 million to Newark Public Schools system in New Jersey. In December 2010, he signed the “Giving Pledge”, a promise to donate at least 50 percent of his wealth to charity over the course of his lifetime. His reason for making the pledges so early in life, Zuckerberg said “… there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”

In 2012 Zuckerberg negotiated the purchase of Instagram, a popular social media platform. Later that year. Facebook raised $16 billion in its initial public offering. The amount made it the biggest internet IPO in history. He holds more than a quarter of the company’s stock and retains 57 percent control of the voting shares.

In May 2013, Facebook made the Fortune 500 list for the first time, at 28 years old Mark Zuckerberg became the the youngest CEO on the list.


MuskMagCoverName: Elon Musk

Company: Zip2, PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, Solar City

Notable contribution: x

Net Worth: $11.7 Billion 2015

Elon Musk was born June 28, 1971 in South Africa. At the age of 12 programmed and sold is first computer gamed called Blast Star.  In 1989 at the age of 17, he moved to Canada to attend Queen’s University, but he left in 1992 to study business and physics at the University of Pennsylvania.


  • 1988, Musk attended Queens University in Kingston, Ontario
  • 1992 Musk transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 1995 Musk received bachelor’s degrees in physics and economics from the University of Pennsylvania
  • 1995 he enrolled in graduate school in physics at Stanford University in California (left after 2 days)
  • 1995 Musk founded Zip2, a company that provided maps and business directories
  • 1999 sold Zip2 Compaq for $307 million,
  • 1999 Musk founded X.com, which later became PayPal
  • 2002 sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion
  • 2002 Musk founded Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) “affordable rockets”
  • 2004 Musk joins Tesla’s Board of Directors as its Chairman
  • 2010 first test flight of Dragon a spacecraft built by SpaceX
  • 2012 Musk and SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket, the first time a private company has sent a spacecraft to the International Space Station
  • 2013 Musk released the “Hyperloop” transportation concept



WarrenBuffetPresidentName: Warren Buffet

Company: Berkshire Hathaway Inc

Notable contribution: Berkshire Hathaway Inc

Net Worth: $72.3 Billion 2015

Commonly referred to at the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett was born August 30, 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska. His father worked as a stock broker where Warren frequently visited and recorded stock prices. At age 11 Warren made his first stock investment; three shares of a $38 per share stock. The stock dropped to $27 but then went up to $40 where he sold it. That stock continued higher eventually hitting high triple digits.  That stock eventually hit triple digits.  Buffet has pointed to this first stock experience as an early lesson in patient investing, what has become the core of his investing mantra: Buy good companies at a fair price and hold them for the long term.

Timeline of Interest

  • August 30, 1930: Warren Buffett is born in Nebraska.
  • 1941 Warren at the age of 11  makes first stock purchase Cities Service (now CITGO)
  • 1942 Buffets father elected to the US House of Representatives
  • 1943 (age 13) running his own businesses, paperboy and selling his own horseracing tip sheet
  • 1943 filed his first tax return, claiming his bike as a $35 tax deduction
  • 1945: Warren is making $175 monthly delivering Washington Post newspapers.
  • 1947: Warren and a friend pay $25 for a used pinball machine at a cost of $25 and places it in a Barber Shop
  • 1947 they add additional machines in three different locations and sell the business year for $1,200.
  • 1947: Warren enrolls at the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce in Pennsylvania.
  • 1949: He transfers to the University of Nebraska.
  • 1950: He enrolls at Columbia University after learning that two well-known security analysts are professors.
  • 1951: Buffett purchases a Texaco station as a side investment while working as a stockbroker
  • 1951: Buffett (age 21) begins teaching “Investment Principles,”. at the University of Nebraska,
  • 1954: Ben Graham calls Warren and offers him a job at his partnership. Buffett’s starting salary is $12,000 a year.
  • 1956: Warren creates Buffett Associates, Ltd. an investing partnership, he would never again work for anyone else.
  • 1958: Buffett doubles the partner’s money.
  • 1959: Buffet is introduced to Charlie Munger, now the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway
  • 1961: Buffett made his first $1 million dollar investment in a windmill manufacturing company
  • 1962: Buffett Partnerships, Ltd. moves to Kiewit plaza in Omaha, Nebraska, where they remain to this day
  • 1962: Warren begins to buy stock in textile manufacturing firm, Berkshire Hathaway
  • 1964: Buffett begins to buy shares of American Express when the stock falls to $35 and everyone is selling
  • 1965: Warren invested $4 million in shares of Walt Disney Co. after personally meeting with Walt
  • 1965: Buffett takes control of the Berkshire Hathaway company
  • 1967: Berkshire pays out its first and only dividend of 10 cents.
  • 1967: American Express hits over $180 per share
  • 1967: Berkshire Hathaway acquires National Indemnity insurance at Buffett’s direction. It pays $8.6 million.
  • 1969: at 39 years old Buffett closes the partnership and liquidates its assets to his partners. He is worth $25 million.
  • 1970: Buffet names himself chairman of Berkshire Hathaway in a letter to the shareholders – he owns 29% of the stock
  • 1970: Berkshire makes $45,000 from textile operations, and $4.7 million in insurance, banking, and investments.
  • 1974: Due to falling stock prices Warren’s personal wealth was cut by over 50%
  • 1979: Berkshire trades at $290 per share. Warren’s personal fortune is approximately $140 million, but he was living solely on a salary of $50,000 per year.
  • 1981: Munger and Buffett create the Berkshire Charitable Contribution plan, allowing each shareholder to donate some of the company’s profits to his or her personal charities.
  • 1983: Warren makes the Forbes list for the first time. net worth, $620 million
  • 1985: Buffett shuts down the Berkshire textile mills refusing to allow it to drain capital from shareholders.
  • 1987: Berkshire buys 12% of Salomon Brothers (Investment Bank).
  • 1988: Buffett begins buying stock in Coca-Cola, eventually purchasing up to 7 percent of the company for $1.02 billion, one of Berkshire’s most lucrative investments.
  • 1992: Berkshire buys 10% of Wells Fargo (Banking).
  • 1994: The Warren Buffett Way by Robert G. Hagstrom Jr. is published and becomes a bestseller.
  • 1996: Berkshire completes purchase of GEICO
  • 1998: Berkshire acquires Executive Jet, now NetJets (Private Aviation).
  • 2000: Buffett is named the top money manager of the 20th century ahead of Peter Lynch and John Templeton.
  • 2002: Berkshire acquire Fruit of the Loom (textile),
  • 2004: Bill Gates is elected as a director for Berkshire Hathaway.
  • 2006: Buffett announces in June that he will give away more than 80% of his money (about $37 billion) to five foundations with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation receiving the largest portion.
  • 2010: Berkshire buys out railroad company Burlington Northern for $44 billion.
  • 2013: Berkshire acquires a 50% stake in H. J. Heinz Company (Food and Beverage).
  • 2014: Berkshire Hathaway Inc. buys Van Tuyl Group, the largest privately owned U.S. auto dealership group.



Branson BookName: Richard Branson

Company: Virgin Group

Notable contribution: Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines

Net Worth: $5 Billion 2015


Richard Branson was born July 18, 1950 in England. As a child he struggled with dyslexia and at the age of 16 dropped out of school. His first business venture was a youth focused magazine called Student which he launched in 1966. He printed 50,000 copies of the first issue and raised approximately $8,000 in ad sales.

In 1977, to help support the magazine he launched Virgin, a discount mail order record company. According to Branson’s book Losing my Virginity, the name was suggested by one of his early employees because they were all new to business. The business provided enough revenue to open a recording studio which became Virgin Records.

Today under the name Virgin Group, there are over 200 companies in more than 30 countries. Branson is the only person to build eight billion dollar companies in eight different sectors.

Branson has a sense of adventure as well. He has broken several records including:

  • fastest ever Atlantic Ocean crossing
  • a series of hot air balloon adventures
  • kite surfing across the English Channel
  • voted the UK’s number one Twitter user
  • the world’s most social CEO
  • the world’s most followed person on LinkedIn (he claims to have more than 11.5 million followers across five social networks)

Branson was awarded a knighthood in 1999 for services to entrepreneurship.

At BusinessInsider.com Branson gives 18 Tips for Success

  1. Don’t do it if you don’t enjoy it
  2. Be visible.
  3. Choose your name wisely
  4. You can’t run a business without taking risks
  5. The first impression is everything. So is the second
  6. Perfection is unattainable
  7. The customer is always right, most of the time
  8. Define your brand
  9. Explore uncharted territory
  10. Beware the “us vs. them” environment
  11. Build a corporate comfort zone
  12. Not everyone is suited to be CEO
  13. Seek a second opinion. Seek a third
  14. Cut ties without burning bridges
  15. Pick up the phone
  16. Change shouldn’t be feared, but it should be managed
  17. When it comes to making mistakes, bounce back, don’t fall down
  18. Be a leader, not a boss

HWayneName: H. Wayne Huizenga

Company: Waste Management, Inc, Blockbuster Video, Miami Dolphins, Florida Marlins, Florida Panthers, Republic Industries, AutoNation, Inc.

Notable contribution: En

Net Worth: $2.3 Billion 2015

Harry Wayne Huizenga has a reputation in business as having the Midas touch the king in Greek mythology who could turn objects into gold. Mr. Huizenga built a number of successful businesses, starting with Waste Management in the 1970s. He then bought and grew Blockbuster Video rental chain into a multi-billion dollar industry. He bought the Miami Dolphins and the stadium they played in for $200 million and sold it for over a billion. He brought professional baseball and hockey to Florida with the Marlins and Panthers making him the only individual to own three professional sports teams. He then got into the automobile superstore market when he started AutoNation. Business is his life and to help share his success with budding entrepreneurs, his philanthropy endeavors include a $4 million donation to Nova Southeastern University to build a new business school in Ft. Lauderdale that bears his name.

Timeline of Interest:

  • 1939: Harry Wayne Huizenga was born near Chicago
  • 1953: Huizenga graduated from Pine Crest School
  • 1959: Huizenga takes a job as a garbage truck driver in
  • Pompano Beach, Florida.
  • 1962: Huizenga (age 25) incorporated Southern Sanitation Service and purchased a single used garbage truck and 20 commercial accounts for $5,000

At the age of 25-Huizenga would collect trash from 2:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., and then go out and solicit new business.

  • 1968: Huizenga merged three garbage collection companies into one and creates Waste Management, Inc.
  • 1971: Waste Management, Inc. went public raising $3 million
  • 1972: Huizenga bought 90 competing trash collection companies in one year, revenues exceed $1 billion a year
  • 1984: Huizenga resigned as CEO of Waste Management Inc., but holds on to approximately $100 million worth of stock
  • 1986: Huizenga created Huizenga Holdings and bought more than 100 businesses that generated $100 million in annual income
  • 1987: Huizenga bought 43 percent of Blockbuster Video, a Dallas, Texas-based chain of video-rental stores for about $18 million
  • 1989: Huizenga receives the Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania
  • 1991: Blockbuster Video had more than 2,000 stores and expands worldwide, with stores in Canada, Austria, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Chile, Venezuela, Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Guam, Australia, and Japan
  • 1994: Huizenga sold his share of Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation (3,700 stores) to Viacom, Inc. (owners of MTV) for $1.25 billion.
  • 1989: Huizenga purchases 15 percent of the Miami Dolphins
  • 1990: Huizenga purchases 50 percent of Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium
  • 1991: Huizenga launches the Florida Marlins, the first professional baseball team in Florida
  • 1992: Huizenga spends $50 million to get the Florida Panthers, a National Hockey League expansion team
  • 1992: Huizenga received the Horatio Alger Award, given to honor Americans who have overcome adversity to achieve great success
  • 1993: Huizenga spent $140 million to purchase 54 percent of Spelling Entertainment Group and Republic Pictures Corporation (Rambo movies Dynasty television series)
  • 1994: Huizenga purchases the remaining shares of both the Miami Dolphins and Joe Robbie Stadium from the Robbie family for $138 million
  • 1994: Huizenga buys 49 percent of Discovery Zone, a chain of indoor playgrounds
  • 1997: Florida Marlins win their first World Series Championship
  • 1997: Huizenga had announced that he would sell the Marlins and take a $39 million loss
  • 1999: Huizenga donates $4 million to Nova Southeastern University to help fund the H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship
  • 2004: Huizenga is named Ernst & Young’s U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year
  • 2005 Huizenga is named Ernst & Young’s World Entrepreneur of the Year

Name: Jeff Bezos

Company: x

Notable contribution: x

Net Worth: $ Billion 2015