In 1937, a trucker got frustrated waiting for his cargo to be unloaded. He later sold his company for $1.1 billion.

Here’s the story of how Malcom McLean made a billion dollars and which startup could be following in his footsteps. (Inspired by our episode with @laurabehrenswu)

In the early 1950s, the shipping industry was a dying business.

New York’s docks were handling half as much domestic cargo in the early 1950s as they had been in the depressed 1930s.

In thirty years, no one had invested significant money in coastal shipping.
Why?

As McLean found out, loading ships was difficult and slow.

A truck or train would deliver items to the port. Each item was unloaded separately, recorded, and carried to storage.

When a ship was ready, each item was taken from storage, counted again, and hauled on-board.
The cost of this labor was significant. As one expert at the time explained:

“A four-thousand-mile voyage for a shipment might consume 50 percent of its costs in covering just the two ten-mile movements through two ports.”
Yet, despite the industry’s issues, it felt little pressure to change.

Foreigners were barred from operating domestically. Cartels ran international routes. And gov. subsidies eased the pain of labor costs.

Reshaping the industry needed an outsider.

Enter Malcolm McLean.
In 1953, McLean owned one of the largest trucking companies in America.

But he worried that domestic shipping lines would undercut his business. Highway traffic was getting worse and shipping costs were falling as the government gave away war-surplus ships for next to nothing.
His memory of Thanksgiving 1937 resurfaced.

Why not bypass traffic by driving truck trailers onto ships?

Ships would then move trailers between North Carolina, New York City, and Rhode Island, circumventing traffic jams at a time when expressways were few and far between.
After some thought, he reconsidered.

The wheels beneath each trailer would waste precious space. Pondering that problem, McLean came up with a more radical idea.

Leave the wheels and chassis, load the container. That would reduce the space each trailer needed by one-third.
But to make that happen, McLean needed to buy and convert old WWII tankers.

The Interstate Commission said no. He couldn't own both a shipping and trucking company.

McLean chose shipping.

In 1955, he made $6 million ($60m today) on the sale of McLean Trucking.
One year and no small amount of problems later, McLean’s vision sailed into reality.

On April 26, 1956, 100 dignitaries watched a purpose-built crane place a container on the Ideal-X every seven minutes. The ship was loaded in less than eight hours and set sail the same day.
For McLean, Ideal-X’s real triumph came when the costs were tallied.

Loading loose cargo on a medium-size cargo ship cost $5.83 per ton in 1956. McLean’s experts pegged the cost of loading the Ideal-X at $0.15 per ton.

With numbers like that, the container had a future.
And so it proved.

McLean wasn’t the first to suggest containerization. But he was the first to understand that the future of shipping required not just a metal box but an entirely new way of handling freight.

Today, the US shipping industry alone is worth $700bn.
McLean built a billion-dollar business by taking a problem he experienced and solving it for everyone.

Laura Behrens Wu, this week’s FFG guest, is doing the same. She’s making shipping easier in the internet age.

McLean 2.0? Listen to find out:

https://t.co/vP8POjAEfb
Both stories beg this question for aspiring entrepreneurs:

If you’re struggling for business ideas, what problem do you face that you’re sure other people struggle with too?

Start there. Solve that problem. As Laura shows, you may find it’s a huge market.
If you want to learn more about Malcom McLean, read Marc Levinson’s excellent book, ‘The Box’.

It pairs well with @patrick_oshag and @LauraBehrensWu's conversation about Shippo and how to build a digital business in the physical world of shipping.

https://t.co/zCZWTiFOsj

More from History

**Thread on Bravery of Sikhs**
(I am forced to do this due to continuous hounding of Sikh Extremists since yesterday)

Rani Jindan Kaur, wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh had illegitimate relations with Lal Singh (PM of Ranjit Singh). Along with Lal Singh, she attacked Jammu, burnt - https://t.co/EfjAq59AyI


Hindu villages of Jasrota, caused rebellion in Jammu, attacked Kishtwar.

Ancestors of Raja Ranjit Singh, The Sansi Tribe used to give daughters as concubines to Jahangir.


The Ludhiana Political Agency (Later NW Fronties Prov) was formed by less than 4000 British soldiers who advanced from Delhi and reached Ludhiana, receiving submissions of all sikh chiefs along the way. The submission of the troops of Raja of Lahore (Ranjit Singh) at Ambala.

Dabistan a contemporary book on Sikh History tells us that Guru Hargobind broke Naina devi Idol Same source describes Guru Hargobind serving a eunuch
YarKhan. (ref was proudly shared by a sikh on twitter)
Gobind Singh followed Bahadur Shah to Deccan to fight for him.


In Zafarnama, Guru Gobind Singh states that the reason he was in conflict with the Hill Rajas was that while they were worshiping idols, while he was an idol-breaker.

And idiot Hindus place him along Maharana, Prithviraj and Shivaji as saviours of Dharma.
THREAD: With #silversqueeze trending on Twitter, it appears that this week's market spectacle may well be in the silver market.

A perfect moment for a thread on the Hunt Brothers and their alleged attempt to corner the silver market...


1/ First, let's set the stage.

The Hunt Brothers - Nelson Bunker Hunt, William Herbert Hunt, and Lamar Hunt - were the sons of Texas tycoon H.L. Hunt.

H.L. Hunt had amassed a billion-dollar fortune in the oil industry.

He died in 1974 and left that fortune to his family.


2/ After H.L.'s passing, the Hunt Brothers had taken over the family holdings and successfully managed to expand the Hunt empire.

By the late 1970s, the family's fortune was estimated to be ~$5 billion.

In the financial world, the Hunt name was as good as gold (or silver!).


3/ But the 1970s were a turbulent time in America.

Following the oil crisis of the early 1970s, the U.S. had entered a period of stagflation - a dire macroeconomic condition characterized by high inflation, low growth, and high unemployment.


4/ The Hunt Brothers - particularly Nelson Bunker and William Herbert - believed that the inflationary environment would persist and destroy the value of their family's holdings.

To hedge this risk, they turned to silver.

They began buying the metal at ~$3 per ounce in 1973.

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हिमालय पर्वत की एक बड़ी पवित्र गुफा थी।उस गुफा के निकट ही गंगा जी बहती थी।एक बार देवर्षि नारद विचरण करते हुए वहां आ पहुंचे।वह परम पवित्र गुफा नारद जी को अत्यंत सुहावनी लगी।वहां का मनोरम प्राकृतिक दृश्य,पर्वत,नदी और वन देख उनके हृदय में श्रीहरि विष्णु की भक्ति अत्यंत बलवती हो उठी।


और देवर्षि नारद वहीं बैठकर तपस्या में लीन हो गए।इन्द्र नारद की तपस्या से घबरा गए।उन्हें हमेशा की तरह अपना सिंहासन व स्वर्ग खोने का डर सताने लगा।इसलिए इन्द्र ने नारद की तपस्या भंग करने के लिए कामदेव को उनके पास भेज दिया।वहां पहुंच कामदेव ने अपनी माया से वसंतऋतु को उत्पन्न कर दिया।


पेड़ और पौधों पर रंग बिरंगे फूल खिल गए और कोयलें कूकने लगी,पक्षी चहकने लगे।शीतल,मंद,सुगंधित और सुहावनी हवा चलने लगी।रंभा आदि अप्सराएं नाचने लगीं ।किन्तु कामदेव की किसी भी माया का नारद पे कोई प्रभाव नहीं पड़ा।तब कामदेव को डर सताने लगा कि कहीं नारद क्रोध में आकर मुझे श्राप न देदें।

जैसे ही नारद ने अपनी आंखें खोली, उसी क्षण कामदेव ने उनसे क्षमा मांगी।नारद मुनि को तनिक भी क्रोध नहीं आया और उन्होने शीघ्र ही कामदेव को क्षमा कर दिया।कामदेव प्रसन्न होकर वहां से चले गए।कामदेव के चले जाने पर देवर्षि के मन में अहंकार आ गया कि मैने कामदेव को हरा दिया।

नारद फिर कैलाश जा पहुंचे और शिवजी को अपनी विजयगाथा सुनाई।शिव समझ गए कि नारद अहंकारी हो गए हैं और अगर ये बात विष्णु जी जान गए तो नारद के लिए अच्छा नहीं होगा।ये सोचकर शिवजी ने नारद को भगवन विष्णु को ये बात बताने के लीए मना किया। परंतु नारद जी को ये बात उचित नहीं लगी।