John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937), founder of the Standard Oil Company, was one of the world’s wealthiest men and a major philanthropist.In 1865, Rockefeller borrowed money to buy out some of his partners and take control of the refinery, which had become the largest in Cleveland. Over the next few years, he acquired new partners and expanded his business interests in the growing oil industry. At the time, kerosene, derived from petroleum and used in lamps, was becoming an economic staple. In 1870, Rockefeller formed the Standard Oil Company of Ohio.
Standard Oil gained a monopoly in the oil industry by buying rival refineries and developing companies for distributing and marketing its products around the globe.
Rockefeller became the world’s first billionaire in 1916. ExxonMobil, Chevron and Pennzoil are just of few of Standard Oil’s descendents. ExxonMobil was ranked wealthiest in the industry by a wide margin in 2013. A year later, it was worth upwards of $389 billion. Trailing closely behind Apple and Google, it is the third-richest company in the world. Rockefeller’s surviving family members number around 200. They have a collective worth of $10 billion and carry on his charitable work. Upon his death in 1937, Rockefeller was worth an estimated $340 billion in today’s dollars—more than four times the wealth of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
Some Interesting Facts
- Rockefeller suffered from alopecia and lost all hair from his body and head.
- He lived so long that his life insurance company had to pay him $5 million.
- John D. Rockefeller’s personal fortune accounted for over 1.5% of the total United States GDP in 1937.