Warren Buffett, a self-made billionaire known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” was practically born a businessman in 1930 in Omaha, Neb. With money earned from his paper route, he made his first investment at age 11, dabbling in stocks and buying acres of land in Nebraska to rent to merchant farmers for a profit.
That was the beginning of the financial machine. He has now amassed a fortune exceeding $65 billion, making him No. 3 on Forbes’ most recent list of the world’s billionaires.
Some of Buffett’s top holdings include Wells Fargo and Coca-Cola. His strategy: to hold well-managed, undervalued companies for life.
Buffett might be one of the richest men in the world and one of most respected investors, but behind the billions, he also has the biggest heart. He teamed up with Bill Gates in 2012 to pledge to give away most of his wealth to philanthropic causes.
ABC News’ chief business and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis, who also hosts the hit digital show “Real Biz,” met up with Buffett, 83, at one of his charitable events. His annual “Power Lunch” at Smith & Wollensky in New York City to benefit San Francisco’s glide foundation. Since 2000 he’s raised more than 16 million dollars to help hungry displaced families.
The New York Times reported this week that America’s middle class is no longer the richest in the world. So Javis asked him how he can still be bullish on the United States. Buffett admitted the news wasn’t good, but stuck by his bullish stance, saying, “We are a very, very, very rich country and its [national GDP] has gone up in my lifetime, one person’s lifetime six for one in real terms, not inflation, but real terms.”
When Jarvis pressed him about wealth inequality, Buffett admitted the rich are getting richer and the middle-class gap is widening.
“It is really true that particularly the ultra-rich have gotten far, far wealthier and more and more the national pie has moved to them and away from the middle class,” he added.
He went on to explain that the disparity in the United States is a “natural consequence of a market system” that will encourage people to go into the right jobs and develop more skills so they don’t get left behind.
But Jarvis also wanted to have a little fun with Warren so she did a little “Real Biz Rapid Fire,” asking him about his smartphone; maybe not so smart, and who he’d like to have lunch with in Omaha.
Check out his never-before heard answers below.
1. Are you an Apple or a Samsung man?
Buffett whipped out an old flip phone that was falling apart and joked, “Alexander Graham Bell gave me this phone”
2. Do you tweet?
Buffett doesn’t tweet. “I’ve had five tweets, and another person did them for me.”
3. What does Buffett buy on Amazon?
Buffett loves books and he has his assistant buy books for him. He says he has so many books in his library, “It’s too much trouble to try to find it in my library so I just buy another copy.”
4. Which industry that we rely on today is going to be gone by the time our grandchildren grow up? For example, will cars still rely on gas?
Buffett thinks we should say goodbye to gas as we know it. “Over time that will diminish dramatically.”
5. What are we going to be surprised has barely changed 50 years from now?
“Human nature. People will be doing exactly the same foolish things they do now.”
6. What’s in Warren’s wallet?
Cash. Five $100 bills.
7. Are we going to be a cash society in five years?
Yes, cash is not going away. “We’ll use cash. We’ll have loads of credit cards and lots of systems of payment, but we’ll have a lot of cash.”
8. Whom would you rather lunch with at Piccolo’s Italian steakhouse in your hometown of Omaha? Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder) or Mark Cuban (NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner)?
“Probably Mark Cuban because I would understand more of what he was saying. We would talk basketball and probably gambling, a few things like that.”