Chairman and CEO, Berkshire Hathaway
Born: Aug. 30, 1930, Omaha, Neb.
Education: Bachelor's in business administration, University of Nebraska Lincoln; master's in economics, Columbia Business School
There can be no more singular member of our list of the 25 leaders, icons and rebels of the past 25 years than Warren Buffett. He is widely regarded—revered wouldn't be too strong a word to the army of followers who hang on his every word—as the most successful investor of his era. Had you bought a share of his industrial holding company-cum-investment fund Berkshire Hathaway on the day CNBC launched in 1989, it would have cost you $5,875. Adjusted for dividends and splits, that share would be worth $185,000 today—more than five times the comparable gain in the S&P 500 over the same period.
Buffett is famous for his dry humor, plain living and folksy wisdom. Yet there is no disguising his razor sharp, disciplined mind and his uncommon acumen with numbers. If, as he wrote in his 2001 chairman's letter, "you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out," Buffett would be the one left more fully clothed than a Victorian bathing belle.
Even after beginning to give away his fortune, his net worth is estimated by Bloomberg at $63.1 billion. For the year 2008, Buffett displaced his friend Bill Gates as the richest person in the world.