Distant Force: A Memoir of the Teledyne Corporation and the Man Who Created It


One of the early Teledyne employees and eventual President, George Roberts, tells of the rise of Teledyne and the leadership of Henry Singleton

The Rabbit Hole is written by Blas Moros. To support, sign up for the newsletter, become a patron, and/or join The Latticework. Original Design by Thilo Konzok.

Key Takeaways
  1. Singleton had no business plan because he wanted to be flexible and knew that you cannot predict the future
  2. Teledyne was innovative in that it was one of the first to aggressively acquire and become a conglomerate, buy back copious amounts of shares
  3. From 1966 to 1991, achieved 25 years of ~18% annual returns (53 bagger)
  4. Loved land and died as the third largest US landowner
  5. Worked for the Navy for a little but then moved to California to follow his dream of starting a large company, like GE
  6. Very talented in math, had patents in gyroscopes, worked a lot with aircrafts and was an amazing salesman
  7. Early exposure to philosophy of thrift and conservatism shaped how he ran Teledyne
  8. George and Henry started Teledyne in 1960 with $450,000, confident that semiconductors were the future
    1. Electronic control systems for aircraft and support of these systems
    2. Wanted control/ knowledge of all components in its system (much like Jobs)
  9. 3 great ideas of Singleton - recognize the future importance of digital semiconductors, acquire and organize a selection of financial companies within his company to provide strong financial base, innovative use of stock buybacks
  10. Acquisitions of all sorts of companies opened many doors and led Teledyne to jump into a wide array of different fields (130 total acquisitions at their height)
  11. Singleton spent the vast majority of his time on strategy and capital allocation
  12. Always extremely aware of incentives and compensation structure
  13. Henry had a singleness of purpose, something similar to Jobs' reality distortion field
What I got out of it
  1. Innovative in acquisitions (using strong financial companies to fund those acquisitions), aggressive buybacks, single purpose on asset allocation and strategy

In the Latticework, we've distilled, curated, and interconnected the 750+book summaries from The Rabbit Hole. If you're looking to make the ideas from these books actionable in your day-to-day life and join a global tribe of lifelong learners, you'll love The Latticework. Join us today.