What the Winklevoss Twins Could Learn from the McDonald Brothers

More

So Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss are considering putting aside their estimated $140 million settlement for a chance at even more money in the courts. They should remember the McDonald brothers, who actually had built a thriving franchise business before Ray Kroc turned it into a global brand, partly through brilliant real estate strategies the brothers would never have attempted. The McDonalds' payment for ceding their royalty: $2.7 million. (College pension funds put up the money!)

Especially relevant is the conclusion of Richard McDonald's New York Times obituary:

A contretemps of sorts blew up in the late 1970's, after publication of Mr. Kroc's biography, ''Grinding it Out: The Making of McDonald's.'' In it, Mr. Kroc, who has often been thought of as the driving force behind McDonald's, dates its birth to the first restaurant in Des Plaines.

''Up until the time we sold, there was no mention of Kroc being the founder,'' Richard McDonald told The Wall Street Journal in 1991. ''If we had heard about it, he would be back selling milkshake machines.''

Mr. Kroc died in 1984. Later, the company came to a meeting of the minds with Dick McDonald on who did what.

''We mutually agreed that Dick and Mac were the pioneers of McDonald's and helped to found the fast-food industry,'' said Chuck Eberling, a McDonald's spokesman. ''Mr. Kroc was the entrepreneur who founded what today is known as McDonald's Corporation.''

Years after the brothers sold to Mr. Kroc, someone asked Richard McDonald if he had any regrets. None, [David].Halberstam relates [in The Fifties].

''I would have wound up in some skyscraper somewhere with about four ulcers and eight tax attorneys trying to figure out how to pay all my income tax,'' Mr. McDonald replied.

Now that's class.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Edward Tenner is a historian of technology and culture, and an affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Remote Warehouse Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where the Wild Things Go

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

From This Author

Just In