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10 Unlikely Business Partnerships That Made It Big

written by: Caryl Cress Ramsey•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 10/31/2011

There is some truth behind the adage "strength in numbers", but maybe it's time to create a new philosophy that there is "strength in unlikely numbers." Some pretty unlikely business partnerships have been formed over the years and as a result, have created some of the biggest companies around.

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    Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Exes Who Are Still Business Partners

    Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Exes Who Are Still Business Partners 

    While many splits end in bitter disputes and a shutdown of communication in general, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez remain business partners till the end.....so far. The two will continue to collaborate on their Latino reality show, Q'Vival, which is scheduled to air this fall in South America.

    They also are co-designers for a clothing line at Kohl's. Even though the clothing line falls under both of their names, Jennifer controls the women's line while Marc oversees the men's line. Most splits usually cost a fair sum of money, Jennifer and Marc may actually work together to make a profit, together or not.

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    Prince Charles and Elizabeth Hurley, Partners in Organic Farming

    Prince Charles and Elizabeth Hurley, Partners in Organic Farming 

    Everyone knows Prince Charles and then there is Elizabeth Hurley, a British model, actress, bikini designer and organic farmer. These unlikely business partners are working together to produce an organic food line from grain and meats raised on Hurley's 400-acre farm. The food will be sold under Prince Charles' label, Duchy Originals. All profits will be donated to charity. They both are committed and share a passion for organic food and farming. Who would have ever pictured these two together in business?

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    Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Co-Founders of Twitter

    Evan Williams and Biz Stone, Co-Founders of Twitter 

    Sometimes even rivals can become the best of friends. By joining forces that is exactly what Evan Williams and Biz Stone did and in actuality became much more than friends. Williams was working for Blogger. Eventually, Blogger was sold to Google. Stone, who worked for Google joined forces with their previous rival, and Williams and Stone became a powerful team. Williams eventually left Google for Odeo.com, but Stone wasn't about to let him get away so he followed him. While there, both approached Jack Dorsey, an Odeo engineer, with an interesting social media idea. From there, Twitter was born.

    Both Stone and Williams, even though once rivals, shared the common bond of being very experienced bloggers. Friendship, common interests, respect and desire for technological advancement, led to this very successful side project now known as Twitter.

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    Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Co-Founders of Google

    Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Co-Founders of Google 

    Brin was conducting a PhD program tour of Stanford that Page was attending. During their encounter, they fought constantly. They eventually worked on a research project together, "The Anatomy of a Search Engine for Large-Scale Hypertextual Web." Who would have ever guessed that this was to become the foundation of Google.

    They both shared a love for computers at an early age. In the end, they became passionate about data mining which led to a partnership with an undisputable shared vision for a company. They may have been born on opposite sides of the world, Page in Michigan and Brin in Russia, but these unlikely entrepreneur partners created a phenomenon with Google's search engine.

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    Pierre Omidyar and Jeffrey Skoll, Founders of Ebay

    Pierre Omidyar and Jeffrey Skoll, Founders of Ebay 

    Ebay was initially founded by Pierre Omidyar, but the person who had once told him that eBay was a stupid idea would soon become his business partner. They actually even met by accident while Omidyar was working out the code for eBay. The two finally joined forces even after Skoll's skepticism. Omidyar hired Skoll to write a business plan and ended up being eBay's first hired employee.

    Their partnership was successful due to their shared values. They focused on the community as a whole instead of on individual clients. Apparently, this has worked well for them as they are now multimillionaires.

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    Artie Kornfeld, Michael Lang, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, Founders of Woodstock Music Festival

    Artie Kornfeld, Michael Lang, John Roberts and Joel Rosenman, Founders of Woodstock Music Festival 

    What does a military man, a manager of a rock band, an executive of a record label and a lounge guitarist along with a multitude of disastrous events all have in common? The indelible mark of Woodstock, which left quite an impression on the American culture.

    Woodstock was conceived after a meeting between Lang, a concert promoter, and Artie Kornfeld, a Capitol Records Vice-President. Lang and Kornfeld formed a friendship even to the extent that Lang moved in with Kornfeld and his wife. These two soon teamed up with John Roberts and Joel Rosenman in which the latter two became in charge of the finances behind the newly formed company, Woodstock Ventures, Inc. After an initial failed attempt at gaining a permit in Wallkill, New York (due to the portable toilets not meeting the town code), this historical event was finally held in White Lake, New York. During the organization of this huge party, all of the equipment was stolen and had to be refinanced and replaced. These four business entrepreneurs ran up against numerous obstacles.

    After the group of unlikely partners tackled their many barriers, Woodstock became a profound effect on the history of music and the American culture.

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    William Proctor and James Gamble, Co-Founders of Procter and Gamble

    William Proctor and James Gamble, Co-Founders of Procter and Gamble 

    In-laws and business usually mix like oil and water, but there was one team that made it work. One partner started out in a candle factory while the other made soap. They didn't meet until marrying the Noris sisters. Their father-in-law convinced them to join together and start a company, hence, Procter and Gamble was established.

    In this case, business and family values became their uniting force. Procter and Gamble helped mass produce other company's products which eventually led to a distribution proposition with the US army. From there, it was all a very successful history for this company based on in-laws.

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    LeBron James and State Farm Insurance

    LeBron James and State Farm Insurance 

    You might not normally associate basketball players with insurance companies, but LeBron James (the All-Star forward for the Cleveland Cavaliers), and State Farm Insurance have partnered up in hopes that "Bron-Bron" will help snag the market of the young adult policy holders, particularly in the areas of renters and auto insurance for State Farm. He will appear in commercials and make public appearances.

    LeBron and State Farm Insurance share many of the same values and goals including contributing to the betterment of the lives of people across the nation. Ironically, LeBron James was caught speeding at 101 mph two weeks before the signed sponsorship.

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    Bears and Packers Were Old Business Partners

    Bears and Packers Were Old Business Partners 

    The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears may be rivals on the field, but who would have guessed they were once business partners way back when! Back in the 1920's and even into the 1950's, the Bears and the Packers were business partners who needed each other to stay afloat financially during the early days of the National Football League.

    Curly Lambeau was founder of the Green Bay Packers, and George Halas was leader of the Chicago Bears. They both rescued each other financially during each other's time of need. Lambeau bailed Halas out during hard times and Halas returned the favor by bailing Lambeau out eventually too by loaning him money to meet his payroll.

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    Golden Nugget Partners, Tom Breitling and Tim Poster

    Golden Nugget Partners, Tom Breitling and Tim Poster 

    Tom Breitling and Tim Poster risked it all to become the youngest casino and hotel owners in Las Vegas. Poster had started a Las Vegas Reservations Systems which was based on booking hotels in the area. Breitling, a friend and former sportscaster, was brought aboard and came up with the idea of putting their company, travelscape.com, on the Internet which was becoming a very popular method of booking travel plans.

    Poster and Breitling became overnight celebrities with the reality series on Fox, The Casino, which is filmed at the Golden Nugget. In the early 90's they started out with a couple hundred dollars between the two of them and ended up with a million dollar business.

References

  • Oz, Dr. Mehmet. "Partnerships in Business" http://www.oprah.com/money/Partnerships-in-Business
  • Weiner, Evan. "Bears and Packers: Bitter Rivals? Not Really" http://www.examiner.com/business-of-sports-in-national/bears-and-packers-bitter-rivals-not-really
  • Reich, Ashley. "Jennifer Lopez-Marc Anthony Divorce: Exes Remain Business Partners". http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/18/jennifer-lopez-marc-antho_n_901989.html

  • "LeBron James Enters Partnership With State Farm" http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/2008-02-13-lebron-state-farm_N.htm?csp=34
  • Hart, Jolene. "Elizabeth Hurley and Prince Charles: Partners in Organic Farming?" http://www.cynthiapasquella.com/green-celebrities/elizabeth-hurley-and-prince-charles-partners-in-organic-farming/
  • "10 Successful Co-Founders. Why Their Business Relationship Work? http://www.chile-it.cl/news-item/10-succesful-co-founders-why-their-business-relationship-work
  • "Woodstock Story". http://www.woodstockstory.com/michaellang.html
  • "Tim Poster & Tom Breitling, Golden Nugget Partners Add Sparkle To Downtown Jewel" http://www.lasvegasdreams.com/12376/88081.html