How Carl Icahn Became a Billionaire

On February 16 in the year 1936, one of the most famous activist investors was born in New York, USA. His name is Carl Celian Icahn, the founder of Icahn Enterprises. According to, his net worth amounted to $14 billion as of September 2020.

Carl Icahn
Carl Icahn (Credit:

Carl Icahn was the son of a synagogue cantor and a school teacher. He obtained a degree in philosophy from Princeton University and later, enrolled at the New York University School of Medicine but did not finish his course. To support himself in college, he worked as a beach boy in a club and played poker game with the cabana owners. After a brief stint in US Army, he was off to Wall Street to begin his love affair with stocks and bonds. There, he got a job as representative of Dreyfus and Co.

In 1968, Carl Icahn borrowed funds to form Icahn & Co., a securities firm that specialized in arbitrage and options trading. At the height of the hostile takeover period in the mid-1980s, he was one of the most active activist investors, fearlessly taking stakes in companies and forcing executives to do his biddings. His reputation as a corporate raider started when he took a large stake in Texaco in 1984 and later doubled his money as a result of the failed merger bid with Pennzoil. He also earned hundreds of millions of dollars in his proxy fights with companies such as TWA, Uniroyal, Nabisco, and CVR Energy.

In 1987, Carl established Icahn Enterprises L.P. In 2013, he reportedly earned over $2 billion on his stake at Dell Computers which went private that year. In 2016, he acquired Trump Entertainment which operated Trump Taj Mahal hotel and Casino. Months after, it was shut down permanently.

Carl Icahn was married twice and had two children. At present, Icahn Enterprises L.P. has interests in 10 major industries namely: Investment, Automotive, Energy, Gaming, Railcar, Mining, Food Packaging, Metals, Real Estate and Home Fashion.


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