The Prize, Chapter 2 Overview
What is even more interesting from a business perspective is how the oil industry created changes and approaches that we see today in nearly all business sectors, for example, the concept of multinational monopolies and the pushback to these monopolies. We also learned about the concept of the integrated company, which contains many or all aspects of the business. We are used to this now with industry, but the idea evolved from the early oil days when they realized being limited to only a few aspects of the lifecycle led to uncertainty, risk, and vulnerability. Rockefeller’s vision was to control all aspects. Ironically, he didn’t go at it from start to finish in terms of the process. Instead, he focused at first on the middle, the refining, and only later added exploration and production, and then marketing. Not surprising in that the highest risk and uncertainty was in the exploration and production, as compared to refining the product once already in hand.
Rockefeller and Standard Oil also catalyzed the concepts of “cash on hand”, leveraging economy of scale, and reducing, or even eliminating competition. We see all of these aspects today. I am sure many of you can see Rockefeller’s Standard Oil in today’s Walmart or Ford Motor Company. The concept of shareholders and trusts that Rockefeller leveraged to maintain his empire effectively are now common in the business world.
Although a keen, and at times ruthless businessman, Rockefeller was also part of the age of philanthropists that gave us Carnegie, DuPont, and others. They came from a mindset of being successful, providing a service to society, and giving back to do good.
Chapter 2 - "Our Plan": John D. Rockefeller and the Combination of American Oil
Sections to Read
- "Methodical to an Extreme"
- The Great Game
- "Now Try Our Plan"
- "War or Peace"
- New Threats
- The Trust
- "Buy All We Can Get"
- The Upbuilder
Questions to Guide Your Reading:
- Why was the early oil industry so highly competitive?
- What did Standard Oil (SO) do to emerge as a dominant firm?
- What characteristics made SO as a model of the first modern corporation?