Warren Buffett may not realize it or even know of web2.0 but he is tapping a core concept of Web2.0 i.e., user-generated content, to figure out how to invest hordes of cash that his company generates every year. Currently, his firm Berkshire Hathaway is sitting on $40 billion and he needs to find places to invest this money. In particular, he is looking to find one large company that he can acquire outright but he is doing it with one key difference. Rather than just talk to corporate bigwigs or hire Wall St. dealmakers, Warren is reaching out to the broader community of investors – in fact, any one that reads his annual letter to shareholders or even a newspaper.
Talking about how he is willing to spend even more than $40 billion by selling some other assets, Warren said today:
“I would hope something would come along where I would have to sell something that I like to buy something huge I like even better,” Buffett, Berkshire’s billionaire chairman, said yesterday at a press conference in Omaha, Nebraska. He would “love” to find a $40 billion acquisition and would “figure out a way” to come up with $60 billion for the right deal, he said in a later interview.
In fact, he even reached out to attendees from foreign countries at his annual shareholders summit.
“I must have told 30 of the South Africans alone to call me collect if they find anything that fits,” he said in response to a question from a South African journalist. One of the suggestions makes a “fair amount of sense,” he said, calling all of them “long shots.”
If this is not democratization of ideas and user-generated content- potentially worth billions to Warren – then I don’t know what qualifies. And as with MySpace or YouTube, the person that comes up with the idea probably gets no more than some limelight – as opposed to billions that would have to be paid to a Wall St. firm that brings you a deal worth this size.
I know that suggesting names of companies is not same as the ‘rich’ analysis performed by the Wall St. firms but this is an interesting experiment.
What do you think? Should Bill Gates ask our opinion on Yahoo! next? After all, they are best friends.