Federal Express was started because founder Frederick W. Smith envisioned a company that could supply overnight deliveries from start to finish, with its own depots, airplanes, posting stations and delivery vans.
What is less well known however is that in the early days of the company, Smith literally gambled it all—and won.
So here’s the story.
He founded the company in the early 1970s, and in 1973 it shipped its first delivery of 186 packages.
Soon, however, the company experienced serious financial difficulties due to rapidly inflating fuel costs in the 1970’s.
Within three years of its founding, Fed Ex was losing more than $1 million each month and verging on bankruptcy.
It got so bad that at one point that the company’s account had only $5,000 and Smith couldn’t afford to refuel the planes that delivered Fed Ex’s shipments.
After an unsuccessful pitch to General Dynamics for additional funds, the company was at the point of closing if it could not refuel its planes the following Monday.
To his credit, Smith refused to surrender. He took the last $5,000, flew to Las Vegas, placed the company’s remaining money on Black Jack bets over the weekend and won an additional $27,000 by Monday.
That $32,000 was enough to refuel the planes and keep the business running for a few more days.
Those next few days were all Fed Ex needed to turn things around.
Soon, Smith raised an additional $11 million, and by 1976 the company’s profits reached $3.6 million.
Today it’s a billion dollar company. Now you know the story of Fedex and Las Vegas.