Ned Isakoff: “You got me blacklisted from Hop Sing’s?”
Delivery Man: “She named name!”
—Seinfeld, “The Race”
Like Elaine Benes in that Seinfeld episode, Charlie Munger named name.
Two names, in fact: Greg Abel and Ajit Jain.
Unlike Elaine Benes’s name-naming, however, the two named by Munger have nothing to do with Communist agitation and the destruction of capitalism as we know it—far from it.
Rather, they have everything to do with Capitalist orthodoxy in its purest, most meritocratic form: who might succeed Warren Buffett as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway under the scenario, as Munger puts it, “Buffett left tomorrow.”
Here’s the direct quote from Munger’s comments written for the 2014 Chairman’s Letter that hit Berkshire Hathaway’s web site this morning (2015 being the 50th anniversary of Buffett’s takeover of the company, both men wrote individual retrospectives on the last 50 years and what the next 50 years might bring):
But, under this Buffett-soon-leaves assumption, his successors would not be “of only moderate ability.” For instance, Ajit Jain and Greg Abel are proven performers who would probably be under-described as “world-class.” “World-leading” would be the description I would choose. In some important ways, each is a better business executive than Buffett…
While Munger’s naming of names does not carry the same penalty as in the Seinfeld episode—neither man will be banned from ordering takeout at Hop Sing’s—it does carry far greater ramifications, because the moment Munger’s comments appeared on Berkshire Hathaway’s web site this morning, both men’s lives changed forever, for obvious reasons that we won’t enumerate, since everybody else will be doing that starting, oh, now.
Instead, we encourage a careful reading of the full Berkshire letter—including both Buffett and Munger’s insightful commentary on what made Berkshire what it has become and where it might go—here.
Fortunately, our book on the topic of Munger’s name-naming—“Warren Buffett’s Successor: Who it Is and Why it Matters,” (eBookson Investing, 2013)—was published well before Munger actually chose to name names, but we don’t have to change a word of it.
Author “Warren Buffett’s Successor: Who it Is and Why it Matters””
(eBooks on Investing, 2014) Available now at Amazon.com
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