Market Commentary 6/30/17

Innovation and Adaptation

In the early 60’s a young student at Yale University wrote a paper for his economics class on a new concept for a delivery service.  Legend has it that he barely earned a C for the paper (much like another famous Yale University graduate) from a dismissive professor who told him that the idea wasn’t feasible.  The young man was Frederick Smith, and the paper became the basis for the company he founded, Federal Express.  His company transformed the mail and package shipping industry, using overnight delivery to create a multi-billion dollar company and turning FedEx into a highly respected global brand.

There are several lessons from the experience of Fred Smith and his company that may be instructive for our economy and the financial markets today.  His business idea was truly innovative, targeting a low-tech industry with entrenched participants. He took tremendous risks in the early years and went to great lengths to keep the company afloat.  His focus on long-term goals ultimately created millions of jobs, but also created many winners and losers among those who tried to emulate him or those who resisted.

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