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Phil Knight's Biography

 
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Nike co-founder, Philip Knight was born on February 24, 1938, in Portland, Oregon.

Knight was a middle-distance runner for the University of Oregon track team, where he encountered coach Bill Bowerman's obsession with improving running shoes.

When Knight studied at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, a professor, Frank Shallenberger instructed his students to write a paper on how they would create a new company.

With his experience of Bowerman in his mind, Phil Knight's paper argued how profits could be generated by importing cheap but well-made running shoes from Japan.

He put his theory into practice and Phil Knight and Bowerman each invested $500 in purchasing Tiger shoes from Japan. They founded Blue Ribbon Sports, Inc. (either in 1962 or 1963 - I have seen both dates reported).

In their first year they cleared $364, but by 1969 sales had rocketed to a million dollars. The company was renamed Nike in 1972.

They developed the "swoosh" logo and cultivated endorsers that included Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Pete Sampras.

In spite of receiving a lot of negative publicity because of their use of child labour in the Far East, by 2004 Nike was selling goods worth around $12bn annually and employing 24,000 staff worldwide.

In November 2004 Phil Knight announced he was stepping down as chief executive, but will remain chairman of the board of directors.

On the Nike website, Phil Knight states his personal philosophy:

"There is an immutable conflict at work in life and in business, a constant battle between peace and chaos. Neither can be mastered, but both can be influenced. How you go about that is the key to success."

As at 12 February 2016, Forbes estimated Phil Knight's net worth at $24.6 billion.



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