8 family-owned Fortune 500 companies

8 family-owned Fortune 500 companies

Claire Zillman


JUNE 2, 2014, 9:04 AM EDT

The phrase “family-owned business” conjures up images of mom-and-pop shops and friendly neighborhood restaurants. But some of America’s largest-grossing public companies started as – and remain – family-owned operations.


Sam Walton opened the very first Wal-Mart  WMT -0.07% in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. The Walton family, said to be worth $150 billion, still controls more than 50% of Wal-Mart. Sam Walton’s son Rob serves as company chairman.


Henry Ford founded his namesake auto company more than 110 years ago with a dream of selling cars that the workingman could afford. Today, fourth- and fifth-generation Fords help run the company, where they still control 40% of the voting power through a special class of stock. Henry Ford’s great-grandson William Ford, Jr. serves as executive chairman.


After a stint in the belt and suspender business, Ralph Roberts launched Comcast in 1963 when he bought American Cable Systems, then a 1,200-subscriber service in Tupelo, Miss. Robert’s son Brian now heads Comcast as CEO and controls 33% of the voting shares of the company.

21st Century Fox

Twenty-First Century Fox was born when Rupert Murdoch split News Corp in two, separating the publishing properties, now known as the new News Corp, from its broadcasting and film assets. Earlier this year, Murdoch, who serves as chairman and CEO of Twenty-First Century Fox and owns 39.4% of the company’s class B voting common stock, named his son James co-chief operating officer.

Tyson Foods

Donald Tyson dropped out of college in the 1950s to help run his father John’s chicken business in Arkansas. He built it into a gigantic chicken, beef, and pork processor that helped develop McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and KFC’s Rotisserie Gold. Don’s son John H. Tyson served as CEO of the company from 2001 to 2006 and currently is chairman of the board on which his aunt, Barbara A. Tyson serves.

Gap Inc.

Husband and wife Donald and Doris Fisher opened the first Gap store in 1969 in San Francisco. Both served on the board of what’s grown into a worldwide apparel retailer, and two of their sons Robert and William now do the same. The Fisher family owns about 40% of all outstanding shares of Gap Inc.

Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder founded her namesake cosmetics company in 1946. Her son Leonard is chairman emeritus; son Ronald is chairman of Clinique Laboratories. Her grandson William P. Lauder currently serves as executive chairman. Granddaughters Aerin and Jane also work at the company as style and image director and global president of Origins and Ojon, respectively. Together they own 23.3% of the voting power in the company; another 52.5% belongs to a trust named for Leonard’s late wife Evelyn.

Campbell Soup Company

In 1882, Arthur Dorrance helped Joseph Campbell launch his namesake soup business. Arthur’s nephew John T. Dorrance invented the formula for condensed soup in 1897 and later became company president. His grandchildren Bennett Dorrance and Mary Alice Dorrance Malone and their cousin Charlotte Colket Weber now sit on the board, as does his great-grandson Archbold D. van Beuren. Together, they own 41.8% of Campbell’s outstanding shares.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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