Billionaire Ronald Perelman Spends $100m To Teach Entrepreneurs
You can’t accuse billionaire Ronald Perelman of not investing in the future—the FORBES 400 lister just put up $100 million to help teach entrepreneurs to navigate the fast changing currents of modern markets. The chairman of MacAndrews & Forbes (no connection to FORBES magazine) donated the money to Columbia University’s business school with the stipulation that it be used to develop a facility and program aimed at teaching entrepreneurs and business leaders. Perelman is on the school’s Board of Oversees but actually got both his undergraduate degree and his MBA from Wharton. According to Perelman: "I think you can teach disruption. I think you can give a student the tools for which to be disruptive, to think disruptive innovation. Some things are gut instinct. Entrepreneurship is one of those things. Fashion sense is. Music is one of those. You either have it or you don't—not that it's so great to have it." So, certain aspects of entrepreneurship can be taught but others can’t? It’s hard to argue with Perelman’s assertions (about entrepreneurship, that is). Reinforcing disruptive thoughts – circumnavigating obstacles, imagining how to thoroughly exploit a new technology or business channel, recognizing synergies – could potentially be trained into students by experienced and engaging professors. That said, a lot of the vision, ambition and hunger many believe are prerequisites for entrepreneurial or disruption success may well come from personality. Changing who students fundamentally are may prove more difficult than teaching them a different way of looking at business strategy and market playing fields. The Ronald O. Perelman Center for Business Innovation (with his name on a building, people are bound to remember him!) will be designed by New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and is expected to open its doors in 2017. Perelman’s donation ties that of Henry Kravis for the largest in school history. Kravis’s building, situated opposite the space on which Perelman’s is slated to be built, was paid for with a $100 million gift made in 2010 by the Kohlberg Kravis Roberts co-founder. Both gifts will be used to pay for construction for the school’s facilities in Manhattanville, just north of the University’s Morningside campus. The business school project is expected to cost about $600 million and Dean Glenn Hubbard says the school has already raised $460m.