The Super Rich List: Comic Book Entrepreneurs

The colourful history of comic book lore is not only full of tales of heroism and villainy, but of individuals succeeding in moneymaking ventures. We took a look at the best moneymakers from the pens of Marvel and DC.

As first published in MoneyMaker Magazine, 2012.

the-batman

Name

Bruce Wayne

Alter Ego

Batman

Occupation

Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Crime Fighter

Estimated Net Worth

$9 billion

How He Made It

Born into money, Wayne is the son of a wealthy and socially-aware businessman, Thomas, who created and built Wayne Enterprises. After witnessing his parents gunned down at the age of just 8 years old, Bruce went into hiding and learned how to influence people through psychological conditioning, alongside some useful ninja skills.

Aged 25, Wayne re-emerged in Gotham City, and took up the CEO reins of the family business, near doubling the profits within just five years. Oh, and he locked up plenty of bad-guys in the evenings too.

What We Can Learn

Wayne the entrepreneur and Batman the crime fighter both use the same understanding of human thinking patterns and media awareness when making billions and saving the day.

In this day and age, an entrepreneur must be able to get into the mindset of their audience, and Batman’s use of sophisticated NLP techniques, coupled with some good old fashioned emotional messaging, has both the press and criminal fraternity in thrall to him.

Meanwhile, in his day job, Wayne’s commitment to research and development leads him to ensure that his company remains at the cutting edge of technology, and gives his business the competitive edge he needs.

Lessons to Avoid

Psychological scarring of his early trauma has taken up roots in Wayne’s mind, and much of what he does is driven by feelings of vengeance. A good entrepreneur will take whatever driving forces they can, but should avoid revenge being a stimulating factor, or they will find their own judgment is compromised.

Real Life Equivalent

Steve Jobs – understood the importance of psychology and R&D

iron-man1-iron-man-4-five-shocking-storylines-to-expect

Name

Tony Stark

Alter Ego

Iron Man

Occupation

Entrepreneur, Engineer, World Saver

Estimated Net Worth

$7.8 billion

How He Made It

Another born into privilege, Anthony Edward Stark’s family business has been heavily linked to the military since his father and grandfather set it up in the early twentieth century. Young Tony showed prodigious intellectual ability, and enrolled at MIT at the age of just 15, graduating with electrical engineering and physics master’s degrees shortly after.

The boy genius took over Stark Enterprises at just sixteen, and continued his father’s passion for creating weapons of mass destruction, before an unfortunate incident saw him captured in the desert and near-mortally wounded, where he thought up the idea of a metal suit, that would allow him to both dispense justice to invading aliens and increase his firm’s stock value by an estimated 1500%.

What We Can Learn

Unlike many entries on this list, Stark doesn’t shy away from his dual identity, but rather wears it firmly on his iron sleeve. He essentially is his brand, and understands the value of putting himself and his daredevil persona in the public eye.

An entrepreneur who can personify their company stands a much greater chance of delivering a clear and positive brand value system to the media and their consumers, as, in a time of ever-increasing reliance on digital shop-windows, it’s ever more tricky to create a friendly and aspirational face for a business.

No doubt Tony is aware of recent research that identified 82% of consumers responding more favourably to a brand if it is linked to a charming and charismatic CEO.

Lessons to Avoid

An entrepreneur’s health is their biggest asset, and Tony’s carelessness in getting not only captured, but near-fatally injured meant at least three months away from his desk. So, be safe, people.

Real Life Equivalent

Richard Branson – the master brand front-man

Fruitbatman

Name

Montgomery Burns

Alter Ego

Fruitbat Man

Occupation

Nuclear Energy Advocate, Industrialist

Estimated Net Worth

$3.1 billion (down from a high of £1.01 trillion)

How He Made It

Born into relatively modest wealth, Burns spent his formative years under the fostered guidance of a cold and heartless billionaire industrialist, leading Burns to become a cold and heartless billionaire industrialist. Who said home-schooling didn’t work?

Young Monty served his country during World War II, after which he was trusted with the world’s first ever trillion dollar bill, which he pocketed, rather than returned to President Truman. The injection of dubious-received investment, allied to his moneymaking education, gave Burns the platform to move back to Springfield, open his nuclear plant, and spend his days monitoring the lazy staff from his opulent mansion. Oh, and occasionally releasing the hounds, if his staff need a little more incentive to work harder.

In his later years, Burns tried his hand at superheroism, adopting the moniker of Fruitbat Man, although his crime fighting days were curtailed when business started calling him again.

What We Can Learn

Young Burns kept his entrepreneurial edge sharp, and didn’t miss the chance to secure investment at a key time in his career, albeit via stealing $1 trillion from the US President.

Whilst we at MoneyMaker don’t condone the theft of what at the time would have been around 32% of the entire global wealth, we do admire an entrepreneur who makes the most of an opportunity, and his subsequent billionaire status for more than seven decades is impressive in anyone’s book.

If an entrepreneur can secure high level investment, it just needs the vision and the drive to make the following success happen.

Lessons to Avoid

A good entrepreneur knows their finances inside out, and protects them at all costs. However, Burns managed to lose his trillion dollar bill to Fidel Castro, after making the mistake of showing the Cuban leader his prized asset. So, er, don’t lose sight of your finances, and definitely don’t give away trillion dollar bills. Not even to revolutionary figures.

Real Life Equivalent

Some people have likened one or two of the oligarchs to Mr M. Burns, but we’re far too polite to do such a thing…

professor-x-patrick-stewart

Name

Professor Charles Xavier

Alter Ego

Professor X

Occupation

Education, Humanitarianism, Planet Protector

Estimated Net Worth

$6.2 billion, but with access to $71.8 trillion

How He Made It

Like many on this list, Xavier was born into wealth, and went on to grow his inheritance to many times its original value. A mixed childhood saw him both orphaned and graduated from Harvard by the age of 16, before a nasty incident at work (repelling an alien invasion hell-bent on global destruction) rendered him confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

A so-called ‘mutant’, whose own DNA has been mutated to provide him with genius level intellect and remarkable telepathic powers, Xavier returned to his sprawling family estate in the New York countryside, where he created and still runs the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning, helping other mutants to use their superpowers for the good of mankind.

A man ahead of his time, Xavier made his money quickly and efficiently at the start of his moneymaking career, allowing him to focus the second half of his life on philanthropic pursuits, including establishing strong political allies to influence government policy on good causes.

What We Can Learn

Xavier’s social conscience has driven him onwards, and he has rarely compromised his strict belief code that an entrepreneur should always aim to do the right thing for society, as well as for their own bank balance, as evidenced by the fact he could access the entire world’s wealth if he wished, but chooses not to.

This moral compass has given the telepathic professor opportunities that would not have presented themselves if he had been less socially aware, including close access to international governments and aid agencies. As such, his primary objective is easier to achieve, due to the personal relationships he has built.

Socially-aware entrepreneurs usually find that any good cause work they do early on is rewarded many times over later in their careers.

Lessons to Avoid

Xavier was a prodigious talent from birth, but was embarrassed by his extreme intellect and athletic ability, and would often show humility, and play down his own strengths, losing momentum and opportunity at a young age. It was only until later in life he started to achieve all he could, and use his skills for good. Entrepreneurs that keep putting off to tomorrow what they could do today rarely succeed, and look back with regrets.

Real Life Equivalent

Bill Gates – made his money and then devoted his life to the pursuit of humanitarian causes

948216-img_0001

Name

Wilson Fisk

Alter Ego

Kingpin

Occupation

Entrepreneur, Media Baron, Megalomaniac

Estimated Net Worth

$11.1 billion

How He Made It

The least well known name on the list, Fisk is a self-made man in every way, starting life with nothing, and growing his wealth to become amongst the richest entrepreneurs in the world. He also turned out to be the biggest crime-lord in comic book history, but let’s ignore that for the time being.

Fisk was bullied heavily as a child, and responded by learning how to dominate people with his bulky size. He used this new-found respect to amass a staff-base of minions, and built an empire that spanned everything from media in North America to spices in the Far East.

Fisk’s commitment to make money all the time is second only to his plans to take over the world and destroy superheroes across the DC universe, making him the most formidable entrepreneur supervillain out there.

What We Can Learn

Fisk grew his business via a series of targeted acquisitions, which grew his business exponentially, until it became so big that new strands of his empire gravitated towards his moneymaking potential. The picky amongst you might say that a mafioso “acquiring” smaller organised crime gangs into his own through campaigns of violence and extortion precludes Fisk from this list, but nobody’s perfect.

Fisk also deserves credit for the way he routinely battles back from adversity. From the childhood bullies, to losing all his fortune and starting from scratch in the Far East spice industry, Fisk took each blow on the chin, and fought back.

Lessons to Avoid

Where to start? Firstly, when you’re inspiring your team to “take over the world”, make sure they know this isn’t a literal translation. Likewise, if your brand develops an adversarial competitor, the best way to deal with this is through smart PR and canny business thinking, and definitely not sending out super-powered hitmen to eliminate your nemesis.

Real Life Equivalent

Al Capone – started small, but hard work and ambition created a criminal empire