Gordon Moore (San Francisco, 1929) is known as the founding father of Silicon Valley. Moore is an American entrepreneur and co-founder of computer giant Intel. At age 86 he has taken a well-earned retirement, although he could have stopped working long ago. Forbes estimates his worth at six million euros. He is most famous for formulating ‘Moore’s Law’. In 1965 Moore predicted that the number of components on computer chips would double every year. The number would reach about 65,000 by 1975. Now, 50 years later, his prediction still holds up.
Fail, fail again, fail better. The American Sara Blakely (Florida, 1971) often failed to realize her plans. Until, that is, she hit on her million-dollar idea. She worked for a year at Disney World clipping tickets and sold fax machines as a door-to-door salesperson. In the evenings she worked comedy clubs as a stand-up comedian. Nothing was really working for her until, at age 29, she decided to invest all her savings ($5,000) in the development of body-shaping underwear: Spanx. Six months later, Oprah Winfrey mentioned Spanx in one of her famous Favourite Things episodes. In 2012, at age 41, Blakely became the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.
the elizabeth arden
In 1910 Elizabeth Arden (Canada, 1878 – New York 1978) set up her own company. Female entrepreneurs were very rare in those days to begin with, but her company was unusual too. Arden began a business in cosmetics, in an era when just about the only people who wore make-up were artists. She opened her first salon on Fifth Avenue in New York, from where she sold her products. She was the person who invented the concept of the makeover. When she stopped working, her business was worth 35 million dollars and she owned over 100 beauty parlours all across the globe. It was only after her death, in 1966, that her real age was revealed to the public. She had kept it a secret her entire life by radiating a ‘timeless beauty’. She lived to the age of 81.
In 1994, David Filo (Wisconsin, 1966) started a website together with Jerry Yang called Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web. That probably doesn’t mean much to most people, but the name they chose to continue under a year later, is more familiar: Yahoo! The website began as a ‘web directory’ pointing to other websites and has grown to become one of the biggest internet brands. This has made Filo the 854th richest man in the world, with an estimated worth of 2.8 billion dollars.