One of the most popular items from the recently finished annual Warren Buffett love fest demonstrated the legend’s ongoing appeal as an investor: soft, cuddly dolls representing the billionaire and his company’s colleague Charlie Munger.
A convention centre in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, was packed with people for a full five hours on Friday, the first day of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s (BRKa.N) weekend of three-day for the shareholders, to purchase discounted goods from numerous Berkshire-owned businesses.
The $9.99 Squishmallows created by Jazwares, a toy business that Berkshire recently acquired, and depicting Buffett and Munger, were the must-have souvenir for many people.
Michelle Young, a former owner of a pottery business in Cottonwood, Arizona, was successful in obtaining a pair and claimed to be charmed by Warren and Charlie.
There were sold about 10,000 Buffett & Munger Squishmallows, and by coming Monday, they were going for up to $255 in eBay auctions.
Jazwares refused to comment on the secondary sales after Alleghany Corp, the company’s previous owners, had been bought by Berkshire in October. An inquiry for comment from eBay Inc (EBAY.O) was not immediately reacted to.
Several first-timers as well as people who have been going for years made the weekend trip to Omaha.
Many people expressed a desire to visit Buffett and Munger, who are aged 92 and 99 years old, respectively, while they were still alive. Some promised to come back even if they weren’t there or if the events were scaled back.
In front of a packed house on Saturday, the two men – Buffett and Munger spoke inside the huge 18,300-seat downtown venue.
Before the doors widened at 7 a.m., thousands of stockholders stood in queue to see them.
Ziyi Ruan, Shanghai-based marketer for an electric vehicle firm had arrived at 2 a.m., said that the two were ancient and people wish to see them at some point in their lives.
Just the College World Series earns more revenue for Omaha annually events than Berkshire’s weekend, which draws tens of thousands of visitors.
Cissy Zhang, a well-sought business consultant for the Madison, Wisconsin, exclaimed she would go at least once more. She was there with her 5-year-old son and her older parents, who had flown in from China.
This entire system requires teamwork to run. One individual is not all of it.
Local banker and insider Richard Callahan believes attendance will decline without what he termed the glamour of Buffett and Munger, but he still plans to attend.
Although investors expressed satisfaction with Berkshire’s long-term strategy, many expressed scepticisms when questioned if the weekend would still be a popular event without Buffett, Munger, or the both of them.
Bill Smead, owner of Smead Capital Management, Phoenix, believes that these two men were an extremely rare pair.
Berkshire has been preparing for the possibility that neither Buffett, who has led the company since 1965, nor Munger, who had been an excellent vice chairman since 1978, will be around indefinitely.
Todd Combs plus Ted Weschler, who now manage some investments, along with Greg Abel, who currently handles non-insurance businesses, may end up overseeing all of them.
Ajit Jain would continue to oversee insurance. Whilst Howard Buffett, who is Buffett’s oldest son, would take on the role of nonexecutive chairman.
Buffett alongside Munger discussed a variety of topics at their meeting on Saturday, including how greed and poor management contributed to the turbulence in the banking industry this year.
Despite Munger’s claim that “old-fashioned technology” also functioned well, they both believed that artificial intelligence may upend several businesses.
At his fourteenth meeting, Mark Blakley, a corporate perks supervisor from Tulsa, Oklahoma, said that attendees came to hear the same inspiring message, get a refresher, and reset their minds.
Jennifer Koon, public relations manager at Roswell, Georgia, who attended for the first time, intends to go again.
She wrote in an email on Sunday that both short-term and long-term guests shared an admirable culture and infectious energy. People should try finding that level of commitment among stockholders of other companies.