The videos are available HERE.
The transcript is available HERE.
There are a couple of excerpts from Snowball that Becky Quick could have been referring to when it came to the Coke/ham sandwich discussion, where Buffett essentially said he didn't make the 'ham sandwich' comment about Coke, implying that Alice Schroeder may have gotten the story slightly wrong. But below are a couple of excerpts from the book that may be the ones.
In 1997, Gates joined Buffett and Goizueta on a panel discussion at Sun Valley that was moderated by Keough.
“I used to talk to Bill all the time, and I’d always use this expression that a ham sandwich could runCoca-Cola. And Bill wasn’t quite housebroken then. So we were sitting on this panel, up in front of the audience, and Bill said something to the effect that it’s pretty easy to run Coke.”
“I was trying to make a point about how Coke is such a wonderful business,” says Gates, “and I said something about how I’m going to step down from Microsoft before I’m sixty because it’s a tough business and a young person may need to be in there to handle turns in the road. But it came across that I thought of Microsoft as exciting and I must have said something like, ‘Unlike Coca-Cola…’
“Goizueta thought I was an uppity, arrogant kid who was painting some kind of picture that I was engaged in some masterful act on a daily basis whereas anybody could leave at noon and go golfing if they ran Coca-Cola.”6
“And Roberto hated Bill from that point forward.”
Buffett avoided technology stocks partly because these fast-moving businesses could never be run by a ham sandwich. He thought it no shame to have a business that could be run by a ham sandwich; he wanted to get Berkshire Hathaway to the point that it could be run by a ham sandwich too—though not until after he was gone.
By 2008, Coca-Cola’s stock was up forty-five percent from its low, to $58. Profits had risen steadily under CEO Neville Isdell. He had settled the Department of Justice investigation and closed a $200 million discrimination lawsuit over racial bias. Buffett left the board in February 2006. His last Coca-Cola shareholder meeting had been another carnival of activists, but nobody had to be wrestled to the floor, and the tension was set to a lower thermostat. In 2007, Isdell had announced that he was retiring. The new CEO, Muhtar Kent, was responsible for the company’s successful push into non-cola drinks, where Coca-Cola had been lagging and was strategically off course.
“I always used to tell Gates that a ham sandwich could run Coca-Cola. And it was a damn good thing, too, because we had a period there a couple of years ago where, if it hadn’t been that great of a business, it might not have survived.”