Business legend: Hans Wilsdorf
Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf studied mathematics and languages
at school and apprenticed with a prominent exporter of artificial
pearls as a teenager. At 19 he went to work as an errand boy and
English translator for Cuno Kourten, a major clock and watch
exporter in Switzerland.
In 1908 Wilsdorf coined the name 'Rolex' to establish a signature
brand that would distinguish his product from other watches that
may even have contained the same parts.
Wilsdorf pioneered the wristwatch. Pocket watches were still
the accepted timepiece, with wristwatches considered inelegant
and useful only for specialty purposes, such as sporting activities, where it was
impractical to consult a pocket watch. The association of the wristwatch with hard
physical work gave it a rough reputation that was distasteful to the genteel consumer. In
his book Timeless Elegance–Rolex, George Gordon noted that men of the time were
heard to say they would 'sooner wear a skirt than a wristwatch!
Rolex introduced the Rolex Oyster, the world's first waterproof, airtight wristwatch in
1926. The following year marked the first of many record-setting marketing events.
Mercedes Gleitz swam the English Channel in the record time of 15 hours and 15
minutes, wearing a Rolex watch.
In 1953, Rolex enjoyed another marketing coup when the British Himalayas Expedition
reached the summit of Mount Everest wearing Rolex Oyster Perpetuals.
The first automatic waterproof watch, the Submariner, was introduced in 1953, with
resistance to 100 meters' depth, and the GMT Master, a watch for pilots that tracked time
in two different time zones simultaneously, was introduced in 1955.
Business legend: Richard Branson
In 1966, Richard Branson launched Student, a
youth-oriented magazine. As the editor Branson
interviewed John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Vanessa
Redgrave, and other celebrities.
With his cousin Simon Draper as the creative
director and Nik Powell as the business manager,
Branson inaugurated Virgin Records in 1973.
Among the label's first releases was Mike Oldfield's
album Tubular Bells, which topped the U.S. charts in
1974 and sold more than 13 million copies.
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Virgin signed the Sex Pistols in 1977. Undaunted by the punk band's controversial image
Branson sold 100,000 copies of the single "God Save the Queen" in one week
Virgin Rags (a clothing line), Vanson Property (a property development company)
1984, Virgin-Atlantic Airways embarked on its maiden flight between London's
Gatwick Airport and Newark, New Jersey.
Branson succeeded in breaking the transatlantic speed record with Virgin Atlantic
In November 1997 Virgin Music Group oversaw the production of the commemorative
album Diana, Princess of Wales Tribute, which raised more than $100 million for
In 1999 Branson sold 49 percent interest in Virgin-Atlantic to Singapore Airlines for
$960 million, reportedly to help finance weaker Virgin companies.
Brand icon: Bandai
Based in Japan, Bandai is the third-largest toy manufacturer in the
world best known for products derived from popular television and
comic book characters such as Power Rangers, Gundam, and
Ultraman. The firm has also had success with 'digital pets'
Tamagotchi and Digimon.
Bandai's roots date to post-World War II Japan, where Naoharu Yamashina, a war
veteran who had lost an eye in combat, was struggling to make a living.
Yamashina started working for a textile wholesaler. He then went to Tokyo and built up a
small toy distribution business. In 1950, Yamashina renamed his toy distributorship
Bandai, which was derived from the Chinese phrase for
"things that are eternal."
Deciding to add an original product to its lineup, in
September of 1950 Bandai introduced the Rhythm Ball,
a beach ball with a bell inside.
In 1996, a toy designed by former housewife Aki
Maita was launched which would become the
company's next blockbuster hit. This was the
Tamagotchi, an electronic egg-shaped device attached
to a keychain. A small screen on the front displayed an
image of a chicken-like creature, which would have to be "cared for" by manipulating
several buttons. If it was not tended to, the creature would die; by pressing a button,
another creature could be hatched. If cared for properly, the character could grow and
change, "living" for up to several weeks. The toys quickly became popular in Japan.
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In 1963, Bandai introduced its first toy based on a children's television character,
which was called Astroboy.
In 1993, Bandai had its biggest international success to date with toys called Power
Rangers. They were based on the live-action show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
(called Jyu Rangah in Japan when originally shown there).
In 1994, Bandai announced it would develop, with computer maker Apple, a
multimedia device that would plug into a television monitor and could be used for game
play and Web browsing–called "Pippin".
Corporate icon: Shozo Kawasaki
From the class leading Ninja sportbikes and thundering Vulcan cruisers to the rugged
Brute Force ATVs (all terrain vehicles), Mule utility
vehicles and Jet Ski watercraft, Kawasaki products lead the
powersports industry around the globe.
In 1878, Shozo Kawasaki opened Kawasaki Tsukiji
Shipyard to build Western-type oceangoing steel ships in
In 1906, Kawasaki built the first submarine in Japan.
During World War II, Kawasaki Aircraft manufactured the
type 3-1 fighter Hien, the only air-cooled fighter developed
in Japan during the war.
Kawasaki regarded the development and production of labor-saving machines and
systems as an important mission, and became Japan's pioneer in the industrial robot field.
In 1968, the Company (Kawasaki Aircraft) entered into a technical agreement with
Unimation Inc., a U.S. company specializing in industrial robots, and began development
work. In 1969, the Company succeeded in developing the Kawasaki-Unimate 2000, the
first industrial robot ever produced in Japan.
'Let the good times roll' is the punchline of Kawasaki.
Business legend: Jamnalal Bajaj
Jamnalal Bajaj was born into a poor family and was adopted as
a grandson by Seth Bachhraj and his wife Sadibai Bachhraj a rich
Rajasthani merchant of Wardha.
During the first World War, British government appeased and
honored native tradesmen, soliciting funds. They appointed
Jamnalal as an honorary magistrate. And when he provided
money for the war fund, they conferred on him the title of Rai
Bahadur that he later surrendered during the non-cooperation
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movement of 1921.
Jamnalal Bajaj was elected a member of the Congress Working Committee and a
Treasurer of Congress in 1933.
Jamnalal Bajaj was the President of the All India Hindi Sahitya Sammelan that
promoted Hindi as single language to unite all Indians. He initiated the Gandhi Hindi
Pustak Bhandar in Mumbai and started the Sasta Sahitya mandal.
He founded the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha along with C. Rajagopalachari
that hoped to spread the learning of Hindi language across the country.
He was elected the chief of the Jaipur Rajya Praja Mandal in 1938.While he was a
chief, he negotiated truce between maharajas of Sikar and Jaipur.
When Congress Working Committee informally decided to make him the President of the
Hirapur Session of the Congress which Gandhi personally approved, he chose to pass
the honour to Subhash Chandra Bose.
Kenzo is a fashion label that was originally started by Kenzo Takada in 1970. Owned by
LVMH, one of the biggest luxury groups in the world, Kenzo has a ready-to-wear line,
accessories and home furnishing as
well. Its signature motif is flowers.
The "lipstick effect" refers to —
wanting to look and feel happy and
bright simply to beat the downbeat
mood in times of recession.
Endemol is exploring new frontiers for
India like Call TV and Gaming. Call
TV is a show wherein viewers can
interact with the TV show host through
a mobile. These shows generate high
SMS revenues and the cost for the
program is covered through the same.
Fortune 500 cos
Founded in 1971 as Cardinal Foods by Robert D.
Walter, it was initially a food wholesaler.
Acquiring the Bailey Drug Company in 1979, it began wholesaling drugs as Cardinal
In 1995, Medicine Shoppe International, the country's
largest franchise of retail pharmacies, is acquired.
In 2007, Cardinal Health acquired VIASYS.
1968: St. Louis pharmacist Michael Busch conceives
idea to establish pharmacies managed by professional
pharmacists and dedicated to meeting personal health
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1970: Medicine Shoppe International, Inc. (MSI) established to license The Medicine
Shoppe® System for independent pharmacists.
• Marathon Oil Corp is a worldwide oil and natural gas exploration and
• Marathon began as The Ohio Oil Company in 1887.
• Founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli, the company
name FIAT is an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Italian
Automobile Factory of Turin), and it also means "let there be" in Latin.
• Fiat was also an aircraft manufacturer at one time.
• Agnelli's grandson Gianni Agnelli was Fiat chairman from 1966 until his death in
• Fiat Group is the largest automobile manufacturer in Italy, with a range of cars
including the Fiat Panda, Grande Punto, Stilo, Idea, Croma, Ulysse and Doblò.
• The automobile group runs well known firms like Lancia Automobiles , Alfa Romeo
Automobiles , IVECO, and Maserati
• Fiat Nuova 500 has won the award for European Car of the Year 2008
• Fiat Group owns CNH Global and Fiat-Hitachi Construction. CNH is the second
largest agricultural equipment manufacturer in the world after Deere & Company.
• In 1959, Piaggio came under the control of the Agnelli family. In 1999, Morgan
Grenfell Private Equity acquired Piaggio
• The major Italian component maker Magneti Marelli is owned by Fiat
• Fiat group also owns important editorial brands, like La Stampa (created in 1926 for
the famous newspaper)
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• Fiat was one of the first companies to build factories in Soviet-controlled countries.
The Russian government later continued the joint venture under the name AutoVAZ
(known as Lada outside the former USSR).
• In 1986, Fiat acquired Alfa Romeo from the Italian government.
• In 1993 Fiat acquired Maserati
• Fiat signed a joint-venture agreement in 2000 under which GM acquired a stake in
Fiat. The agreement with GM included a put option, which held that Fiat would have
the right to sell GM its auto division after four years at fair market value. If GM
balked, it would be forced to pay a penalty of $2 billion. When Fiat tried to sell GM
the company, GM chose the penalty. In 2005 GM and Fiat officially dissolved their
• Sergio Marchionne is the CEO while chairman is Luca di Montezemolo
• Statoil is a Norwegian govt's petroleum company established in 1972,
now part of StatoilHydro.
• The merger of oil business of Norsk Hydro and Statoil created
HBOS plc (Halifax Bank of Scotland) is banking and insurance group
in the UK, the holding company for Bank of Scotland plc, which
operates the Bank of Scotland and Halifax brands
It also operates HBOS Australia, owner of BankWest; and HBOS
HBOS was formed by the merger of the Halifax plc and the Governor
and Company of the Bank of Scotland
The Bank of Scotland is the UK's oldest commercial bank, founded by an Act of the
Parliament of Scotland in 1695.
Société Générale is one of France's oldest and most prestigious banks.
Napoleon III signed a decree authorising the foundation of Société
Générale as a limited company in May 1864.
The bank set up a permanent office in London in 1871. The same
year, Société Générale moved into the public French issues market
with a national debenture loan launched to cover the war indemnity
outlined in the Treaty of Frankfurt.
Société Générale was nationalised in 1945.
In 1987, the bank was privatised
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• Crédit Agricole SA is the largest banking group in France and is a part of the CAC 40
stock market index.
• Crédit Agricole was founded in 1860. Its primary function is to
supply credit for French agriculture.
• Crédit Lyonnais was founded in 1863 in Lyon by Henri Germain
• Crédit Lyonnais was nationalised in 1945. In 2003 it was bought up
by Credit Agricole.
• Credit Agricole has numerous divisions such as Calyon the insurance division,
Predica and Pacifica.
• AIG's punchline is 'The Strength to Be There'
• AIG's history dates back to 1919 by when Cornelius
Vander Starr set up an insurance agency in Shanghai,
China. When his business was successful there, he expanded
• In 2006, AIG became new shirt sponsors of English football
team Manchester United
• ConocoPhillips traces its beginnings to 1875, when Conoco founder Isaac E. Blake
envisioned an idea to make affordable kerosene
available in Utah.
• Thirty years later, the foundation for Phillips
Petroleum Company began when brothers Frank
and L.E. Phillips hit the first of 81 wells without a dry hole.
• Nearly a century later, the two companies merged to form ConocoPhillips in 2002
• Conoco received a patent for the Vibrosis method of seismic oil exploration
• In 2006, Burlington Resources merged into
• In recent years, ConocoPhillips formed a partnership
with Tyson Foods, Inc. to produce next-generation
renewable diesel fuel.
• The company's US brands are Phillips 66®, Conoco® and 76®
• Phillips 66 Lubricant brands: TropArtic® Motor Oil. Its products for the boating
and snowmobile industry include Injex™, Synjex™, and Injex™Pro.
• The company markets its products in international markets through JET® and Coop
• In the US, ConocoPhillips offers consumers four premier brands, including 76®
Lubricants, Conoco,® Phillips 66® and Kendall® Motor Oil.
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1879: The Company traces its earliest roots to an 1879 oil discovery at Pico Canyon, north
of Los Angeles, a find that led to the formation of the Pacific Coast Oil Co., which later
evolved into the Standard Oil Co. of California
1901: Another major root in the genealogical chart is the 1901 formation of
The Texas Fuel Co. in Beaumont, Texas. It later became known as The Texas
Co. and, eventually, Texaco Inc
1911: Chevron was originally known as Standard Oil of California, or
Socal, and was formed amid the antitrust break-up of Standard Oil into
'Seven Sisters' in 1911.
1933: Saudi Arabia granted Socal a concession to find oil, which finally occurred in 1938
when the largest oil field on earth was discovered.
1944: Socal's subsidiary California-Arabian Standard Oil Company evolved over the years,
becoming the Arabian American Oil Company (ARAMCO) in 1944.
1988: The Saudi government began buying into ARAMCO. In 1988 the name was changed
to Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco).
1984: The merger between Chevron and Gulf Oil became the largest merger in world history
at the time. As part of the merger, Socal rebranded to become Chevron Corporation.
1988: Dynegy Inc. was created from the merger of Chevron's former natural gas and natural
gas liquids businesses with Dynegy's predecessor, NGC Corp.
2001: Chevron Corporation merged with Texaco to form Chevron Texaco.
2005: ChevronTexaco dropped the Texaco moniker and return to the Chevron name. Texaco
remained as a brand under the Chevron Corporation.
2005: Chevron merged with the Unocal Corporation, a move which, because of Unocal's
large South East Asian geothermal operations, made Chevron the largest producer of
geothermal energy in the world.
Chevron markets refined products and lubricants in approximately 175 countries on six
continents, primarily under three strong brands — Chevron, Texaco and Caltex
Brands and Products: Techron (gasoline additive), Delo (lubricant), ExtraMile
(convenience store), Oronite, ParaLux
Brands and Products: Techron, Havoline, Ursa, Xpress Lube (automotive
service centres), Star Mart (convenience stores)
Brands and Products: Havoline, Delo, Power Diesel, Revtex, Star Mart
(convenience stores), Xpress Lube (automotive service centres) and
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• Chevron Shipping's international fleet ships are all named after celestial bodies or
constellations (Orion Voyager, Altair Voyager etc) and the US ships are named after
states (Washington Voyager, Colorado Voyager etc).
• In 1998, Nigerian police and soldiers fired and shot dead two activists staging a
demonstration on a Chevron oil platform in the Niger Delta. A 'Drilling and Killing'
covers these and other topics.
• The Seven Sisters that came into existence after the break up of Standard Oil are:
Standard Oil of New Jersey (Esso which later became Exxon)
Royal Dutch Shell (Anglo-Dutch)
Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) (British). This later became Anglo-Iranian Oil
Company (AIOC), then British Petroleum, and then BP Amoco following a merger
with Amoco (which in turn was formerly Standard Oil of Indiana). It is now known
solely by the initials BP.
Standard Oil Co. of New York ('Socony') which later became Mobil, which merged
with Exxon to form ExxonMobil.
Standard Oil of California ('Socal')
Inventors & Inventions: Nail polish
Staining of nails dates all the way back to ancient China and
Japan. The ancient Egyptians also stained nails with henna.
However modern nail polish was a by-product of the enamels
invented to paint and protect cars in the 1920's.
The Charles Revson company was formed by Charles Revson,
his brother Martin Revson, and a chemist, Charles Lachman.
Working for them was a French make-up artist called Michelle
Menard, who was inspired by the enamel used for cars to
wonder if the same techniques could be used to create nail
enamels and lacquers. The key advantage of the modern
lacquers, which were made of nitrocellulose dissolved in a
solvent, was that they were easy to store and could be kept for
years provided the solvent didn't evaporate.
The founders of the company thought that this product had potential and set up a factory to
manufacture it. The Charles Revson company renamed itself Revlon (the "L" was for
Lachman), and started selling the first ever modern nail polish in 1932. The polish initially
sold through beauty and hair salons. It was only later that they introduced lipsticks to match
the nail polish, and by 1937 began to sell through department stores and drug stores.
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Innocent ltd provides natural drinks. It offers fruit smoothies, thickies, orange juice, veg pots,
and pea and broccoli rice. Innocent ltd was founded in 1998 and is based in London, the
The Nippon Oil Corporation is a Japanese petroleum company whose
products are sold under the brand name ENEOS, which is also the name
used for its service stations.
It is currently a sponsor of the Honda Racing F1 Team.
The company was founded in 1890 by Carl Thieme, director of the Munich Reinsurance
Company, and the private banker Wilhelm Finck.
LG Group founder Hwoi Koo set LG history in motion with the establishment of the Lak
Hui Chemical Industrial Corp. in 1947.
It assumed the abbreviated name of "LG" in 1995 which is an abbreviation of "Lucky
Geumseong" in South Korea, which is translated into English as Lucky Venus—"Venus"
being "Gold Star."
LG, as it is now known, was commonly known in Japan and surrounding nations as the
"Happy Happy Good Times" company.
1997: World's 1st CDMA digital mobile handsets supplied to Ameritech and GTE in
In 2006, LG Mobile, marketed the LG Chocolate phone and phones such as the LG
Shine and LG Prada
LG Electronics developed iris recognition technology in 1999 and markets it for
security, convenience, privacy enhancement and productivity purposes.
Power of 10 was a CBS game show hosted by Drew Carey. The series was produced by
Embassy Row Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television and was taped at
Kaufman Astoria Studios in New York City.
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In 1994, Netherlands based Joop van den Ende and John de Mol merged to become
Endemol. In 2007, Endemol's major shareholder Telefonica sold its 75% stake in
Endemol to Goldman Sachs promoted Edam Acquisition.
Parle bought Bisleri (India) in 1969. The company recently introduced Bisleri Natural
Mountain Water – water brought from the foothills of the mountains in Himachal
Pradesh. Its recent ad campaigns revolve around the thought, 'The Sweet Taste of
Purity'. So the fight between the two brands over original Himalayan water is far from
The baby carriage was invented in 1733 by English architect William Kent for the 3rd
Duke of Devonshire's children. William H. Richardson patented an improvement to the
baby carriage in the United States in 1889.
The bikini was invented in 1946 and named after the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands,
the site of the first atomic bomb testing. The designers of the bikini were two Frenchmen
named Jacques Heim and Louis Reard.
Modern bar code began in 1948. Bernard Silver, a graduate student at Drexel Institute
of Technology in Philadelphia, overheard the president of a local food chain wanting a
system that could automatically read product information during checkout. Silver told his
friend Norman Joseph Woodland about the food chain president's request. In 1949,
Woodland and Silver filed a patent application titled "Classifying Apparatus and
Method." The inventors described their invention as relating "to the art of article
classification...through the medium of identifying patterns".
George Joseph Laurer, an engineer at IBM, developed the Universal
Product Code in 1973. In 1974, the first U.P.C. scanner was installed at a
Marsh's supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The first product to have a bar code
included was a packet of Wrigley's Gum.
Inventors & inventions
Invented the capillary feed in fountain pens - now universally used - that allows for even ink flow
Though necessity may be the mother of invention, perhaps it is
frustration that fuels the fire; or so it seemed for Lewis Waterman. In
1883, Lewis Waterman was an insurance broker in New York City,
getting ready to sign one of his hottest contracts. In honor of the
occasion, Lewis Waterman bought a new fountain pen that he
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considered far more stylish than a cumbersome dip pen and ink well. With the contract on the
table and the pen in the client's hand, the pen refused to write, and actually leaked onto the
precious document. Horrified, Lewis Waterman raced back to his office for another contract,
but a competing broker had closed the deal.
Determined to never again suffer such humiliation, Waterman began to make fountain pens in
his brother's workshop. Lewis Waterman used the capillarity principle which allowed air to
induce a steady and even flow of ink. He christened his pen "the Regular," decorated it with
wood accents, and obtained a patent for it in 1884. In his first year of operation, Waterman
sold his hand-made pens out of the back of a cigar shop. He guaranteed the pens for five
years and advertised in a trendy magazine, The Review of Review. The orders filtered in.
By 1899, Lewis Waterman opened a factory in Montreal and was offering a variety of
designs. The Treaty of Versailles was signed using a solid gold Waterman pen, a far cry
from the day Lewis Waterman lost his important contract due to a leaky fountain pen.
Cabbage Patch Kids are a doll brand created by Debbie Morehead and Xavier Roberts in
1978. The original dolls were all cloth and sold at Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland,
The Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam stills prepares food for Lord Venkateshwara in
Munro Gangalam–a utensil gifted to them long back by a famous Britisher, Sir Thomas
Chevrolet is the car used in the movie "Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi".
Brands Vodafone, Airtel and Kurkure (Pepsi) have the rights for advertising on
Rajdhani Express trains operating on several routes
Little Magazine is a magazine run by Amartya Sen's daughter Antara Dev Sen.
Lifeline Express is an idea first mooted by Jawaharlal Nehru. Health minister
Anbumani Ramadoss started it while Rajiv Gandhi Foundation runs the LifeLine
Express Camps across the country.
The Elders is a global leadership forum started by Nelson Mandela & Desmond Tutu
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the original car designed by Count Zborowski which was
the inspiration for the movie scripted by Roald Dahl and for the children's novel by Ian
A recent partnership between Apple Corps, keepers of the Beatles archive, Harmonix,
the creators of Rock Band and MTV Games is making a video game on their music. The
fact that since its release the Rock Band franchise has sold four million units, and
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generated $600 million in revenue, could be one of the reasons for the company to try out
this new venture.
UB Group's Kingfisher Airlines has announced a tie-up with Disney Publishing, to
bring on board its kids programme called Little Wings. The airline has introduced an inflight
magazine called Disney Kids.