Texas Ex Writes BusinessWeek Cover Story On Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett biographer Alice Schroeder is back, writing the cover story for this week’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek on the subject she knows so well.

Her story, “Hold for Mr. Buffett Please,” looks into the usually pleasant, occasionally rocky relationships the folk-icon investor has with the CEOs of companies in which he’s bought a stake.

“When he sees something he doesn’t like in a company whose shares he owns, the famously passive investor can swing into action to protect his investment — jawboning behind the scenes, scolding, cutting opportunistic deals, even hiring and firing CEOs. For some of those on the receiving end of his activism, it can feel a bit like being attacked by Santa Claus,” Schroder writes.

Buffett recently chastised Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld, for example, over her company’s purchase of food and candy maker Cadbury.

On her blog, Schroder shares some of the back story on what it was like the research the article. The challenge, she says, was that few people would say anything negative about Buffett on the record.

Schroeder, BBA ’78, MBA ’80, Life Member, saw The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life become a bestseller last year.

She told The Alcalde what it was like to write that book (which took five years and a $7.2 million contact). The dynamics were delicate, she said — Buffett had told her he wanted to reconcile his public and private selves, and she took that to heart. Although he didn’t ask for any changes, she knew parts of his personal life (such as his wife’s affair) were painful for him to see exposed.  

The relationship between Schroeder and Buffett had cooled off since the book came out. But Schroeder insisted that was a fair price for retaining her independence as a writer. “I signed up for this,” she said. “I knew that it would be lonely, that I might lose friends over it, that I might never talk to him again. I think I struck the right balance.”

Watch Schroeder discuss what Buffett is like and what he means to American business.


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