John D. Rockefeller Net worth: Familiar names like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos, who is worth an estimated $114 billion, fill out the top spots. However, John D. Rockefeller was a financial and technological pioneer a century before these other titans. If he were alive today, he would still be wealthy enough to make the list.
John D. Rockefeller is recognized as the first millionaire and a renowned philanthropist due to his achievement in establishing the Standard Oil Company. During his lifetime and after his death, he was greeted with both adulation and criticism. Investors looked up to his commercial acumen; muckraking journalists revealed his unscrupulous dealings, and his philanthropic efforts left a lasting legacy of kindness. This article discusses John D. Rockefeller Net worth, Career, and many more.
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John D. Rockefeller Early Life
William A. Rockefeller Sr. and Eliza Davison’s second child was Rockefeller. He had four younger siblings: William Jr., Mary, Franklin (Frank), and Frances. His father was English and German, while his mother was Ulster Scot. “Big Bill” and “Devil Bill,” William Sr. was a lumberman and subsequently a traveling salesman who called himself a “botanic physician” who marketed elixirs. He lived a nomadic life and rarely visited his family.
Bill’s schemes were legendary. Between Lucy and John, Bill and his mistress and housekeeper Nancy Brown had a daughter named Clorinda who died young. Between John and William Jr., Bill and Nancy had Cornelia.
Eliza, a Baptist homemaker, tried to keep her home stable while Bill was away. She endured his philandering and double life, which included bigamy. Eliza taught her son that “willful squandering begets sorrowful want.” John helped with home duties and made extra money by raising turkeys, selling potatoes and candies, and lending modest amounts to neighbors. He followed his father’s advice to “swap dishes for platters” and always get the best deal.
Bill brags, “Every chance I get, I cheat my sons. I want them crisp.” However, his mother was more influential in his upbringing and beyond, while he distanced himself from his father as he grew older. He subsequently said, “From the outset, I was trained to work, to save, and to contribute.”
He attended Owego Academy after his family moved from Moravia, New York, to Owego in 1851. He attended Cleveland’s Central High School, the first high school in Cleveland and the first free public high school west of the Alleghenies, after moving to Strongsville, Ohio, in 1853. At Folsom’s Commercial College, he studied bookkeeping for ten weeks. Despite his father’s absences and repeated family migrations, he was a polite, studious youngster.
He was reserved, sincere, pious, systematic, and discreet, according to his contemporaries. He spoke clearly and debated well. He loved music and dreamed of a career in it.
John D. Rockefeller Early Career
At age 20, John D. Rockefeller went into business with Maurice B. Clark to buy and sell perishable farm goods. This was called “produce commission.”
Clark and Rockefeller made $4,400 in their first year of business. In their second year, they nearly quadrupled their net income to $17,000, which is equivalent to $530,688 dollars in 2022.
After that, their profits kept going up because the start of the American Civil War caused a huge rise in the number of people who needed food.
Clark and Rockefeller looked into refining crude oil as the Civil War was coming to an end and profits from the war were slowing down.
When John D. Rockefeller entered the oil industry, it was dominated by independent oil refiners who bought crude oil from producers and sold it to kerosene lamp makers.
Because there was no regulation of the supply or the market for crude oil or kerosene, both the quality and the price fluctuated widely and affected the bottom lines of all parties.
Rockefeller and a group of investors pooled their money to purchase a number of smaller oil refineries in Cleveland, Ohio and merge them into a single corporation they called the Standard Oil Company.
Standard Oil Company
John D. Rockefeller also foresaw a growing demand for kerosene, a refined oil product. Traditional methods of extracting kerosene from coal were inefficient.
However, the current markup for refined oil was anything from 62 percent to 160 percent, so it wasn’t all bad. He used the money to launch Standard Oil Co. in 1870.
Lots of people tried to get rich off the oil boom, but they mostly failed.
This was mostly because oil refineries would only preserve the 60% of product that was refined into kerosene, dumping the remaining 40% into rivers and huge sludge mounds.
Instead of letting it go to waste, Rockefeller found creative uses for it, like lubricating oil, petroleum jelly, paraffin wax, tar, and other by-products.
Rockefeller expanded the business rapidly by buying out less effective rivals, enhancing operations, negotiating bulk oil shipment discounts, lowering prices, and increasing investment.
Rockefeller was able to quickly rise to the top of his sector by acquiring a less-efficient oil refinery and lowering oil prices through government subsidies.
By 1872, Rockefeller had acquired 22 of its 26 rivals in Cleveland, Ohio. Standard Oil wasn’t simply buying up the competition; it was also taking over the industry’s suppliers.
It also built its own pipes, tank vehicles, and home delivery system.
Since they produced so much oil, they could sell their goods at inexpensive prices, which both discouraged would-be rivals and made them accessible to the general public.
By the decade’s end in the 1870s, Rockefeller had amassed a fortune and Standard Oil was responsible for refining more than 90 percent of the oil in the United States.
Dissolution of Standard Oil
By the 1890s, people were starting to get fed up with companies like the Standard Oil monopoly.
In 1911, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the dissolution of Standard Oil Company, saying that it was in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
The company was split into 34 separate companies, including:
These corporations continue to be among the world’s major oil producers.
John D. Rockefeller Net worth
What would John D. Rockefeller net worth be today? In 1902, when Rockefeller was 63 years old and enjoying his retirement to the fullest, he made more than $58 million from his investments, which is equivalent to more than $1.7 billion in today’s money.
John D. Rockefeller’s estimated net worth in 1913 was $418 billion (adjusted for inflation in 2022).
It was believed that Rockefeller had $900 million in 1913, which was equivalent to approximately 3% of the US GDP at the time.
It is estimated that the Rockefeller fortune is now $8.4 billion. They are now among the world’s most wealthy families.
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John D. Rockefeller Personal Life
Rockefeller married Laura Celestia “Cettie” Spelman in 1864. They had one son and four daughters when they were together. In May 1937, only two months before he would have become 98 years old, Rockefeller passed suddenly due to arteriosclerosis.