Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Standard

If one thinks of the large companies that have existed throughout history, Standard Oil is bound to end up on one's list.

The website includes a section devoted to Standard Oil and its successor companies. If the name doesn't ring a...bell, here's a little information:

John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Trust is one of the most famous industrial organizations ever. The Trust controlled a lion's share of the production, transport, refining, and marketing of petroleum products in the United States and many other countries. Originally, this Trust was an attempt to cash in on the lucrative home lighting market which was converting from whale oil to kerosene. The emergence of the automobile and its thirst for the formerly near worthless refining by-product called gasoline brought dizzying wealth to this industrial group. The 1911 decision to break up the Trust had the result of making the seperate pieces more valubale than the whole was, and stock prices rose sharply.

In some respects, the breakup of Standard Oil parallels the subsequent breakup of AT&T ("Ma Bell"):

Both developed ubiquitous brand names: Bell for telephone service, Standard for oil. Like the "Baby Bells", many of the "Baby Standards" kept the old company identity as they went into business for themselves.

Back to Standard Oil. The website traces the "Baby Standards" throughout history, up to the present day. It turns out that many of the Baby Standards (like many of the Baby Bells) have gone through a period of consolidation, resulting in three major players: BP (including Arco), Chevron, and ExxonMobil.

More here.
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