Texas billionaire Ross Perot, who ran unsuccessfully for the office of U.S. president twice, died at his home in Dallas on Tuesday at 89 years old.
Perot, a tech pioneer, businessman, philanthropist, and politician, died of leukemia, according to family spokesperson James Fuller. He had been battling with leukemia for months before he died, Fuller confirmed.
He first ran for the office of president in 1992 as an independent candidate. He ran against Democratic candidate Bill Clinton and the Republican President George H.W. Bush. Democratic candidate Bill Clinton won the election, with Perot winning 18.9 percent of the vote.
He ran again in 1996 as the presidential candidate of the Reform Party and won only 8.4 percent of the vote.
Throughout his presidential campaigns in 1992 and 1996, Perot focused on economic issues, especially the fiscal policy issues of the increasing deficit and free trade. He was one of the most prominent voices that opposed the proposed North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the time, warning that it would generate a “giant sucking sound” moving U.S. jobs to Mexico.
His presidential campaigns as an independent candidate in 1992 and as a third-party candidate in 1996 sensitized American voters to the possibility of an alternative platform to the established Democratic and Republican Parties.
He endorsed Republican Party candidates George W. Bush in 2000, and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012.
He was the author of several books, including his autobiography Ross Perot: My Life, and Ross Perot: My Life & the Principles for Success.
How much was Perot worth in 2019?
Forbes estimated Perot’s net worth in 2019 at $4.1 billion.
Perot, born in 1930 to a Texas cotton broker, started out selling newspapers, Christmas cards and garden seeds. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in 1949. He worked with the Navy for four years, manning naval communication systems.
In 1956, he married Margot Birmingham of Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
He joined IBM as a salesman in 1957, selling data processing systems, mostly hardware. He proposed to IBM the idea of providing services, such as customized software and technical support, in addition to selling hardware. But after IBM rejected the idea, he quit in 1962 to launch his own IT company, Electronic Data Systems (EDS).
EDS went public in 1968, with Perot making his fortune in the tech industry long before companies such as Microsoft and Apple became household names. He sold EDS to General Motors in 1986 for $2.5 billion, making $1.5 billion.
He launched the information technology services provider Perot Systems in 1988. The business grew rapidly, establishing offices in about 25 countries worldwide, with annual revenue of $2.8 billion. He sold Perot Systems to Dell in 2009 for $3.9 billion, making $800 million,