Berkshire Hathaway 2013 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 53

Is Ajit Jain Warren’s successor?

Warren Buffett:

Andrew?

Andrew Ross Sorkin:

OK. At Berkshire, there is a unique dynamic that exists between your recognition of Ajit’s special skills and Ajit’s special skills.

You comment often about how unique Ajit’s skills are. So just tell us, is Ajit your successor?

And if not, what happens to Ajit’s businesses without Ajit?

Warren Buffett:

Well, they won’t be without Ajit for a long time. And he… what… he’s remarkable in many ways, but one of the ways he’s particularly remarkable is that when people start copying something he’s doing and turning what was maybe quite profitable into something that becomes something every Tom, Dick, and Harry is doing, he figures out new ways to do business.

And I notice you started with the ‘A’s when you started on a possible successor with Ajit, and you won’t have any more luck when you get to the ’B’s.

Charlie?

Charlie Munger:

Well, I think the basic answer is that if Ajit ever is not with us…

Warren Buffett:

We won’t look as good.

Charlie Munger:

Yeah, we won’t look as good, right.

Warren Buffett:

And that’s true of a number of other managers, too. We have an extraordinary group of people, in most cases, who do not need the money that they earn working for us. They may make substantial money. And they are doing a job for you shareholders and for me and Charlie that you can almost say we don’t deserve.

But they are having… I think they’re having… a good time running their businesses. The one thing we do is try and create an atmosphere where they can enjoy running the businesses rather than spend all their time running back and forth to headquarters and doing show-and- tell operations and that sort of thing.

And it’s taken a long time, though, too. I mean, we operated Berkshire for 20 years without Ajit. If he’d come in the office in 1965 instead of 1985, we’d probably own the world.

Kind of fun to think about, isn’t it?

Charlie?

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