On the other hand, there are companies like Wal-Mart (WMT - Get Report) that have been successful after the founder steps away. Sam Walton was a visionary when he started his everyday low-price retailer. But as the company expanded and gained buying power, it was able to offer even lower prices, and the company continued to thrive after his death in 1992.
So what companies today would continue to thrive if their famous founders were to leave? Here are four:
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com in 1994. What started as an online bookstore has grown into the largest online retailer in the world. When the dot-com bubble burst, many online retailers went belly up, but Bezos was able to successfully navigate the company towards profitability.Can the company thrive without Time's Man of the Year (1999)? I think so. Amazon has become the Wal-Mart of online retailing (it attracts more than twice as much traffic as walmart.com), and more shoppers are moving away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores and towards Amazon. This is inevitable with or without their fearless leader. It is a Zacks No. 3 Rank (Hold) stock. Oracle (ORCL - Get Report) CEO Larry Ellison, the world's sixth richest man, has a larger-than-life persona. He has been at the company's helm since he founded it back in 1977. The company, best known for its flagship product the Oracle Database, is the third-largest in terms of software revenue in the world, behind Microsoft and IBM. But Oracle is expanding beyond enterprise software. It acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010 and has nearly $25 billion in cash and short-term investments, so expect more acquisitions in the future. As the company becomes more diverse, it will also become less reliant on Ellison. It is a Zacks No. 1 Rank (Strong Buy) stock. Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B - Get Report) From one Oracle to the next. Warren Buffett. Berkshire's famous Chairman and CEO has grown the company into one of the largest and most respected in the world. Buffett has used the "float" from the company's insurance operations to finance his savvy investments.