The billionaire CEO who collects priceless art pieces, loves the piano and math

Published: Monday, October 18, 2021

We’ve heard so much about Amazon and other online global giants growing faster than expected in the digital world. And behind their success is an efficient air shipment and logistics to ensure fast delivery of goods ordered online by individuals or small and medium enterprises.

The US-based XPO Logistics, Inc. (NYSE: XPO) is among these multibillion major global freight and logistics firms helping the e-commerce industry grow even faster.

What sets XPO apart from competition is it’s focused primarily in providing truck brokerage and less-than-truckload (LTL) freight transport services, using its proprietary technology, including the cutting-edge XPO Connect automated freight marketplace, to move goods efficiently through the supply chains across 30 countries.

The company is the brainchild of serial American entrepreneur Bradley Jacobs who has built five billion-dollar or multi-billion-dollar corporations from scratch, including three publicly traded corporations — United Waste Systems, United Rentals and XPO Logistics.

In July, XPO Logistics completed the spin-off of GXO Logistics, Inc., the largest pure-play contract logistics provider in the world with approximately 94,000 team members and 869 logistics facilities in 27 countries. Both companies are now separately traded at NYSE with the symbols “XPO” and “GXO” with huge forecast for growth given today’s need for more logistics services.

Jacobs, an avid collector of classical art, whose collection includes the much-envied works by Lichtenstein, Calder, de Kooning, and the legendary Picasso, partly credits his love for the piano and math for his successful business ventures, apart from harmonizing his thoughts and actions.

He studied math and piano (classical and jazz) at Bennington College and Brown University before dropping out to make a living.

“Anyone can buy a company. You just have to sign a contract and wire the money. But conceiving how those acquired company parts can be integrated into an organically growing entity takes a special creative talent,” Jacobs told Forbes in an interview. “Even though I’m not writing a song [in integrating companies], I’m thinking of ideas that are abstract. It’s a combination of math and music. I’m visualizing them as clearly as I possibly can in space and time and then actually executing on them.”

Indeed, the invisible rhythm and sequence that harmonized the operations of XPO Logistics made it a success of its own.

“If I have a claim to fame, it’s that my teams and I have built five companies from scratch and all five became billion dollar or multibillion dollar industry leaders. Along the way, we created tens of billions of dollars of value for the public shareholders of United Waste Systems, United Rentals, and XPO Logistics, where I’m Chairman and CEO. All three stocks were ten-baggers, with the share prices rising more than 1,000% since we made the first investment. We achieved this by integrating about 500 acquisitions, developing cutting-edge technology and hiring outrageously talented employees,” Jacobs shared on his LinkedIn profile.