Print and broadcast media headline stories say Warren Buffett Bought This or Warren Buffett Bought That. What is meant isn’t that Mr. Buffett bought it for his own account; instead, Berkshire Hathaway acquired 50 percent of Heinz, 100 percent of Burlington Northern Sante Fe or whatever.
Warren Buffett is the chairman of Berkshire, and Berkshire is the buyer. With a merry band of 25 souls in Omaha, Neb., and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger in California, Berkshire runs one of the largest conglomerates in America, one that owns unexpected household names like Dairy Queen and Benjamin Moore. His name is so synonymous with the company that the words Buffett and Berkshire are practically interchangeable. Of course, the conglomerate has hundreds of thousands of employees; the question is this: how do 25 people (26, if you count Munger, the perfect counter to Buffett) manage hundreds of thousands of employees? The answer is this: they don’t.