A profile of the Wall Street billionaire taking on Dell, Netflix, and other billionaire rivals:
"Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, is learning to accept Icahn since he took a 10% stake in the company last fall. Icahn's purchase prompted the company to adopt a so-called poison pill to prevent Icahn from buying more shares. 'It's like a chess opening. He does that move, and we do the pill. It's pretty standard in all of these things,' says Hastings. 'I was worried about him when we didn't know him, but I now must say that I enjoy his company.' Responds Icahn: 'We like Reed Hastings. I told him when a guy makes me 800 million bucks, I don’t punch him in the mouth.'"
PUBLISHED: March 27, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3691 words)
Inside a Saudi billionaire's obsession with his own Forbes wealth ranking—and the magazine's subsequent investigation into his real worth:
"But for the past few years former Alwaleed executives have been telling me that the prince, while indeed one of the richest men in the world, systematically exaggerates his net worth by several billion dollars. This led FORBES to a deeper examination of his wealth, and a stark conclusion: The value that the prince puts on his holdings at times feels like an alternate reality, including his publicly traded Kingdom Holding, which rises and falls based on factors that, coincidentally, seem more tied to the FORBES billionaires list than fundamentals.
"Alwaleed, 58, wouldn’t speak with FORBES for this article, but his CFO, Shadi Sanbar, was vociferous: 'I never knew that FORBES was a magazine of sensational dirt-digging and rumor-filled stories.' Our discrepancy over his net worth says a lot about the prince, and the process of divining someone’s true wealth."
PUBLISHED: March 6, 2013
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3737 words)
A look at the 59-year-old Microsoft cofounder who has invested $500 million into the Allen Institute for Brain Science with the goal of decoding how the human brain works:
"Four years later six brains have been donated and four analyzed to some degree. The project is due to be finished this year, but the first brain images, put online in 2010, are already yielding scientific results. So far, the gene expression from the first two human brains in the new atlas varies only a little, yielding hope that scientists will be able to understand some of what it all means.
"How might this work? A young University of California, San Francisco neuroscientist named Bradley Voytek used software to match words that frequently appeared together in the scientific literature with matches of where genes are expressed in the Allen atlas. For instance, he found that scientists studying serotonin, the neurotransmitter hit by Prozac and Zoloft, were ignoring two brain areas where the chemical was expressed in their research. It might even play a role in migraines. This data-driven approach led to 800 new ideas about how the brain may work that scientists can now test, leading to hope that computational methods can help decipher the computer in our heads."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 18, 2012
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3174 words)
[Not single-page] Sara Blakely went from auditioning to play Goofy at Disney World to founding an undergarment empire: Spanx. She still owns 100% equity in the company, making her the youngest female billionaire at age 41:
"Like many startups, Spanx began life as an answer to an irritating problem. The panty hose Blakely was forced to wear at both Disney and Danka were uncomfortable and old-fashioned. 'It’s Florida, it’s hot, I was carrying fax machines,' she says. She hated the way the seamed foot stuck out of an open-toe sandal or kitten heel. But she noticed that the control-top eliminated panty lines and made her tiny body look even firmer. She’d bought a new pair of cream slacks for $78 at Arden B and was keen to wear them to a party. 'I cut the feet off my pantyhose and wore them underneath,' she says. 'But they rolled up my legs all night. I remember thinking, "I’ve got to figure out how to make this." I’d never worked in fashion or retail. I just needed an undergarment that didn’t exist.'"
PUBLISHED: March 7, 2012
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3708 words)
[Not single-page] The secret life of Manoj Bhargava, whose 5-Hour Energy caffeine and vitamin shot has rung up more than $1 billion in sales:
"Bhargava, 58, is so under the radar that he barely registers on Web searches. His paper trail is thin, consisting primarily of more than 90 lawsuits. This is his first press interview. 'I’m killing it right now,' he says, adjusting a black zip-up cardigan from behind the table of a soulless conference room in a beige low-rise building in a suburban business park in Farmington Hills, Mich. 'But you’ll Google me and find, like, some lawyer in Singapore.'
"Vague and inscrutable is how Bhargava likes things. The names of 5-Hour’s parent company, Living Essentials LLC, and that company’s parent firm, Innovation Ventures, are purposely bland. 'They were intended as placeholders, and they stuck,' he says, smiling."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 8, 2012
LENGTH: 9 minutes (2492 words)
While Gates’ vaccine-based giving—closing in on $6 billion to fight measles, hepatitis B, rotavirus and AIDS, among others—is part of the largest, most human-driven philanthropy in the history of mankind, what’s missing in his language are the individual humans.
In many ways that’s the point. Gates’ clipped manner in discussing the children he and his wife met in India and Africa (“Melinda and I spend time with these kids, and we see that they’re suffering; they’re dying”) disappears when the underlying numbers come up, his speech getting more rapid, his voice ever higher. “A 23-cent vaccine,” he says, “and you’ll never get measles,” a disease that “at its peak was killing about a million and a half a year; it’s down below 300,000.” Gates rattles off milestones in the history of global health and the prices of vaccines down to the penny, but blanks on the name of one of his favorite vaccine heroes, John Enders, the late Nobel laureate, or Joe Cohen, a key inventor of the new malaria vaccine Gates helped bankroll.
PUBLISHED: Nov. 2, 2011
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3088 words)
[Not single-page] Jobs smiled warmly as he told them he was going after their market. “He said we were a feature, not a product,” says Houston. Courteously, Jobs spent the next half hour waxing on over tea about his return to Apple, and why not to trust investors, as the duo—or more accurately, Houston, who plays Penn to Ferdowsi’s mute Teller—peppered him with questions.
When Jobs later followed up with a suggestion to meet at Dropbox’s San Francisco office, Houston proposed that they instead meet in Silicon Valley. “Why let the enemy get a taste?” he now shrugs cockily. Instead, Jobs went dark on the subject, resurfacing only this June, at his final keynote speech, where he unveiled iCloud, and specifically knocked Dropbox as a half-attempt to solve the Internet’s messiest dilemma: How do you get all your files, from all your devices, into one place?
Houston’s reaction was less cocky: “Oh, s–t.”
PUBLISHED: Oct. 18, 2011
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2999 words)
The Harvard Business School professor's work took on new urgency the past few years as he suffered a heart attack followed by cancer followed by a stroke. For Christensen it was not a reason to get too upset. It was another opportunity, in a lifetime full of them, to gain insight into how to make the world work better. Because of his July stroke it took a long time for Christensen to be ready to sit down with Forbes. He was in intensive speech therapy, eight hours a day at the beginning. But he graciously agreed to tell his inspiring story in January, the same month he went back to teaching. Here it is in his words, along with those of his family, friends and close colleagues.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 25, 2011
LENGTH: 30 minutes (7727 words)
Have we mentioned the ifs? Like all potentially disruptive innovations, gene sequencers could fizzle. Their success depends on unpredictable events: how fast the technology improves, how quickly researchers can make medical discoveries based on the new machines and--most critically--whether drugs can be developed to treat diseases. Gene test prices could drop, becoming a low-margin commodity like medical blood tests (cholesterol, blood sugar and so on), which, at a few bucks a pop, are a $40 billion business. Ultimately Rothberg's machine may not win. Like the Commodore 64 home computer that dominated in the 1980s and disappeared soon after, the PGM could be quickly eclipsed.
PUBLISHED: Dec. 30, 2010
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4125 words)