Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is a holding company that owns a diverse range of businesses, the most significant among them insurance and reinsurance companies including Government Employees Insurance Co., best known by its brand name GEICO, and General Re Corp.. Berkshire Hathaway invests in a portfolio of stocks, bonds and derivatives and holds significant stakes in several blue-chips, such as Coca-Cola. The company also owns, outright, Dairy Queen, See's Candies and NetJets.
BH is operated on a decentralized basis, all overseen by legendary investor Warren Buffett (a.k.a. The Oracle of Omaha) and his handful of trusted lieutenants. Legions of Buffetteers head to the company's annual meeting in Omaha, Neb., a gathering that's been dubbed the Capitalist Woodstock. Menu favorites there: burgers and Cherry Cokes, perhaps reflecting the billionaire's down-to-earth, stick-to-what-you-know approach. His annual letters to shareholders are famous for their readability and emulated by the likes of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s Jamie Dimon. Two of the Oracle's most-quoted aphorisms of late: "Be fearful when people are greedy, and greedy when people are fearful" and “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked."
The company recently made a big bet on the U.S. railroad industry and the nation's long-term economic prospects with the purchase of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. The addition of a highly regulated, relatively predictable business could help smooth the transition for a successor to Buffett and also signals the challenge in finding deals big enough to be meaningful to the company, given its size. It also points to Buffett's preference for companies with a strong competitive edge over rivals.
While Berkshire Hathaway technically has more than 200,000 employees through its subsidiaries, only 19 actually work at its Omaha headquarters. The company's bare-bones, circa 1999-style Web site doesn't host a careers page. For openings at its subsidiaries, check out each company's separate Web site. One job opportunity of note: Mr. Buffett has been looking for a successor. An annual letter to shareholders described the qualities being sought: "independent thinking, emotional stability, and a keen understanding of both human and institutional behavior."