A business magnate (formally industrialist) refers to an entrepreneur of great influence, importance, or standing in a particular enterprise or field of business. The term characteristically refers to a wealthy entrepreneur or Investor who controls through personal business ownership or dominant shareholding position in a firm or industry whose goods or services are widely consumed. Such individuals may also be called czars, moguls, proprietors, tycoons, taipans, barons, or oligarchs.
The word tycoon derives from the Japanese word taikun (大君), which means "great lord", used as a title for the shogun. The word entered the English language in 1857 with the return of Commodore Perry to the United States. U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was humorously referred to as the Tycoon by his aides John Nicolay and John Hay. The term spread to the business community, where it has been used ever since.
The word mogul is an English corruption of mughal, Persian or Arabic for "Mongol". It alludes to emperors of the Mughal Empire in the Medieval India, who possessed great power and storied riches capable of producing wonders of opulence such as the Taj Mahal.
Modern business magnates are entrepreneurs that amass on their own or wield substantial family fortunes in the process of building and running their own businesses. Some are widely known in connection with these entrepreneurial activities, others through high-visibility secondary pursuits such as philanthropy, political fundraising and campaign financing, and other subsequent business ventures.
The terms mogul, tycoon and baron were often applied to late 19th and early 20th century North American business magnates in extractive industries such as mining, logging and petroleum, transportation fields such as shipping and railroads, manufacturing such as automaking and steelmaking, in banking, as well as newspaper publishing. Their dominance was known as the Second Industrial Revolution, the Gilded Age, or the Robber Baron Era.
Examples of well-known business magnates in the western world include historical figures such as oilman John D. Rockefeller, automobile pioneer Henry Ford, shipping and railroad veterans Aristotle Onassis, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould, and James J. Hill, land speculator Lars Kovala, retail merchant Sam Walton, steel innovator Andrew Carnegie, newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, and banking king J. P. Morgan. Contemporary industrial tycoons include real estate developer and President of the United States Donald Trump, investor Warren Buffett, software developer Bill Gates, telecommunications giant Carlos Slim, airline owner Sir Richard Branson, engineer extraordinaire Elon Musk, Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, media maven Sir Rupert Murdoch, and poultry visionary Frank Perdue.