Who was Charlie Munger, the 'Titan of Business' and partner of Warren Buffett who died at the age of 99
Charlie Munger, the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and a prominent American investor, businessman, and philanthropist, passed away at the age of 99. Known for his enduring partnership with Warren Buffett, Munger's contributions to finance, business, and philanthropy have left a lasting legacy
American investor, businessman, and philanthropist Charles Thomas Munger, commonly known as Charlie Munger, passed away at the age of 99. Born on January 1, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, he was known for his role as the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate headed by Warren Buffett. Munger's partnership with Buffett was often celebrated for its success and longevity. In the wake of Charlie Munger's passing, Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, expressed that the company's current stature owes much to Charlie's "inspiration, wisdom, and active involvement." Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, referred to Munger as a "business titan" and a perceptive observer of the world.
Early Life and Education
Charlie Munger grew up in Omaha during the Great Depression. His early life was marked by financial struggles, and he worked various jobs to support himself. Munger displayed academic excellence from a young age. He attended the University of Michigan, where he studied mathematics. After serving as a meteorologist in the US Army Air Corps during World War II, he attended Harvard Law School and earned his JD magna cum laude in 1948.
Law Career: Munger began his career as a lawyer in Los Angeles, and he achieved success in the field. His legal career laid the foundation for his later business ventures.
Investment Partnership: In 1962, Munger founded a private investment partnership, and over the years, he developed a reputation as a skilled investor. His investment philosophy emphasized buying high-quality companies at reasonable prices and holding them for the long term.
Berkshire Hathaway: Munger's path crossed with Warren Buffett in the early 1960s. They first worked together on various projects and eventually merged their investment partnerships into Berkshire Hathaway in 1978. Munger became the Vice Chairman of the company. Munger played a crucial role in the success of Berkshire Hathaway. His partnership with Buffett was characterized by a shared investment philosophy focused on intrinsic value, economic moats, and long-term holding. Munger was known for his candid and insightful commentary on business and investing, and he often provided a different perspective that complements Buffett's approach. Munger's fervour for engineering reportedly prompted Berkshire Hathaway to invest in the Chinese auto company BYD. Despite this initial interest, Berkshire Hathaway has been consistently reducing its stake in BYD, with the latest sale occurring on October 25, bringing the company's stake down to 7.98% from its previous 8.05%. Munger's passing follows closely on the heels of Warren Buffett's philanthropic act, where he donated $866 million worth of Berkshire's stock, signalling a potential transition after an illustrious journey spanning nearly six decades.
The longstanding friendship between Buffett and Munger predates Buffett's acquisition of Berkshire Hathaway, with Buffett playing a pivotal role in initiating Munger's investment career.
Munger's investment philosophy was often summarized in the concept of "latticework of mental models." He advocated for a multidisciplinary approach, drawing insights from various fields to make better decisions.
Charlie Munger was admired not only for his business acumen but also for his wit, wisdom, and straightforward communication style. He was known for his speeches at the annual meetings of Berkshire Hathaway, where he shares his thoughts on a wide range of topics.
Munger, along with his family, was involved in philanthropic activities. He made significant contributions to educational institutions, including the University of Michigan and Stanford University.
His enduring partnership with Warren Buffett, coupled with his intellectual rigour and unique insights, positioned him as a highly respected figure in finance and business. Munger's life and career exemplify the principles of value investing, lifelong learning, and the importance of ethical conduct in business.
Aversion to Cryptocurrency
In addition to his contributions to the financial realm, Munger was known for his outspoken criticism of cryptocurrencies. He asserted that governments made a significant error in allowing the proliferation of cryptocurrencies, describing them as "worthless" and likening them to a venereal disease that would only bring harm. In an interview with CNBC earlier this year, Munger emphatically stated, "It is ridiculous that anyone would choose to invest in cryptocurrencies."
Reflecting on a life well-lived, Munger encapsulated his philosophy with the quote, "I think a life properly lived is just learn, learn, learn all the time," leaving behind a legacy of continuous learning and critical thinking.