On the way home, Smith took a detour to Las Vegas and sat down at a blackjack table. He went on a run and walked away after winning $27,000. With funds in hand, Smith then wired the funds back to FedEx, which helped get the company by until they were able to raise $11 million in funding. A few years later, FedEx reached over $1 billion in revenues.
Blackjack is one of the most popular games in US casinos. There are lots of amazing stories surrounding the game. We all have splitting, doubling down, and bust stories like Kevin Hart. However, most of us never saved a company from going out of business because of a blackjack game. That’s part of the story about how FedEx is still in business.
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Starting in the beginning
There’s a legendary story about how the founder of FedEx, Fred Smith, kept his company in business in its fledgling years. Thanks in part to playing blackjack, FedEx is a billion-dollar corporation serving the entire world.
Let’s start this story in the beginning. The idea for FedEx started while Fred Smith was in college. He wrote a paper about the idea that he could deliver products quicker than other companies with a unique shipping strategy. He received a C on the paper.
While his professor might not have loved the idea he moved ahead and founded FedEx in 1971. The company opened for business in 1973. FedEx started off strong but profits slowed as expenses rose. That’s where blackjack comes into the story.
Fred Smith Fedex Story
$5,000 and a dream
FedEx was down to $5,000 in the bank and Smith couldn’t get more funding from investors or a loan from a bank. Down on his luck, Smith decided to take his money to Las Vegas and play a little blackjack. Co-Founder Robert Frock describes the trip to Las Vegas in the book Changing How the World Does Business: Fedex’s Incredible Journey to Success – The Inside Story.
“I asked Fred where the funds had come from, and he responded, ‘The meeting with the General Dynamics board was a bust and I knew we needed money for Monday, so I took a plane to Las Vegas and won $27,000. ’I said, ‘You mean you took our last $5,000— how could you do that?’ He shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘What difference does it make? Without the funds for the fuel companies, we couldn’t have flown anyway.’ Fred’s luck held again. It was not much, but it came at a critical time and kept us in business for another week.”
The blackjack winnings helped pay for a fuel bill for another month of shipping. This kept FedEx in business long enough so it could secure more funding. Smith was able to acquire $11 million to help grow FedEx to a size where its own revenue could sustain its future growth.
As they say, the rest is history.
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This is not sound money management
Fred Smith Fedex Blackjack
This is a very rare story where someone takes the last of their money and turns their life around by gambling. Unfortunately, there are many many more horror stories about people gambling away the last of their money. Having said that, this is the kind of story is what dreams are made of.
This part of what makes the FedEx blackjack story so legendary. Nobody would recommend someone take the last of their money and gamble. Smith wasn’t a professional gambler or a particularly sharp gambler by all accounts.
Smith got lucky.
Fedex Owner Blackjack
Always gamble within your means. Learn proper bankroll strategy. Practice and master blackjack strategy. If you want to decrease the house edge and turn the advantage to yourself find a good blackjack game and count cards. Negotiate favorable conditions with the casino like Don Johnson did when he won millions of dollars in New Jersey.