He sold top business minds on a TV show that promised to save the world – and make them famous. They handed over thousands. Then reality set in. The bank had been hacked. A rival company had taken over. When they found out, they went crazy.
We know how that story ends. The two companies split up. A few went on to work for the federal government. Some went broke. And a few made a lot of money in the booming dot-com scene.
Today, it’s not quite so clear what would have happened if we had accepted their offer.
The problem is that a lot of people have been watching TV for a long time and are still paying for it. And a lot of money has been transferred from the bank to a lot of other people – without really knowing where it went or how it was spent.
It’s called the revolving door, and in the early days, it’s how businesses kept tabs on what their employees were up to.
The old-fashioned way
In the early days of TV, the “old-fashioned” system of transferring money between businesses was a little like the way Americans give cash to their friends or send them to Disneyworld. The money was just handed over – with all the paperwork going to the other person.
The old American method, known as “cash and carry,” let the recipient “carry” the money on their person. And while this worked, it was a lot of hassle for everyone involved.
Take, for example, the case of a man named John D. Rockefeller. After leaving the family business, Rockefeller made a fortune as a railroad tycoon and chairman of Standard Oil. He was a major investor in US Steel, the country’s largest producer of steel. And in 1908, he invested $250,000 in what became the Rockefeller Foundation.
But Rockefeller’s big idea, which became his life’s work, was about doing good in the world. He set up the Rockefeller Foundation (now the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) to distribute money to help poor people improve their lives, especially in developing countries.
Rockefeller used his fortune to find money for his foundation. And in 1924, one of his