T. Boone Pickens is a legendary figure in the business world who is also known to millions of Americans for his “Pickens Plan,” an energy policy aimed at reducing America’s addiction to foreign oil.
Known as the “Oracle of Oil” because of his uncanny ability to predict the direction of fuel prices, he founded Mesa Petroleum, one of the largest independent oil companies in the United States, from a $2,500 investment. Pickens also became highly successful in the 1980s by offering unsolicited buyouts to undervalued oil companies. Pickens’s actions during this time transformed the oil industry.
Pickens documented his trials and tribulations (along with his seemingly improbable comebacks) in his New York Times bestseller, The First Billion Is the Hardest: Reflections on a Life of Comebacks and America's Energy Future. After leaving Mesa, Pickens went through a painful divorce, experienced clinical depression and saw the loss of 90 percent of his investing capital. But Pickens staged a remarkable comeback, turning his investment fund’s remaining $3 million into $8 billion in profit in just a few years. That made him, at age seventy-seven, the world’s second-highest-paid hedge fund manager. Among the energy bets Pickens has made: America’s cars will eventually run on natural gas.
In July 2008, Pickens launched an $82 million national advertising campaign to promote the “Pickens Plan.” He appeared in TV and in print advertisements, before Congress, and at town hall meetings across the country, bluntly telling Americans: “I’ve been an oilman my whole life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.”
Pickens is also one of the foremost advocates of a comprehensive energy plan for America, one that incorporates alternative energy solutions. It is an initiative that many believe is equally significant to Al Gore’s global warming awareness campaign.