Who Is William J. O'Neil?

William J. O’Neil is a noted investor, stockbroker, and author. He is known for being one of the first investors to incorporate computers into his research and investment decision-making process. O’Neil also founded the influential investment publication Investor’s Business Daily.

O’Neil has published the highly acclaimed books How to Make Money in Stocks and 24 Essential Lessons for Investment Success.

Key Takeaways

  • William O'Neil is an investor, author, and publisher of Investor's Business Daily.
  • Born in 1933, O'Neil is known as a growth investor, identifying opportunities at the time in the newly emerging computer sector. He is known for being one of the first investors to incorporate computers into his research and investment decision-making process.
  • After starting a career as a stockbroker in 1958, and while at Harvard Business School, O'Neil invented the CAN SLIM strategy, a bullish formula for determining which stocks were likely to grow.
  • Investor's Business Daily was acquired by News Corp in 2021.
  • Some of O’Neil’s investing influences include Bernard Baruch, Jesse Livermore, Gerald M. Loeb, Jack Dreyfus, and Nicolas Darvas.

Understanding William J. O'Neil

O'Neil was born March 25, 1933, in Oklahoma City and raised in Texas. In 1951, he graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas. He studied business at Southern Methodist University and received a bachelor's degree in 1955 before later serving in the U.S. Air Force. O'Neil was also accepted into Harvard Business School in 1960, but at that point, he had already begun his career as a stockbroker two years earlier.

O'Neil started his career as a stockbroker at Hayden, Stone & Co. in 1958, where he developed an investment strategy that made early use of computers. While at Harvard Business School, O'Neil invented the CAN SLIM strategy, a bullish formula for determining which stocks were likely to grow, and became the top-performing broker at Hayden Stone. He bought a seat on the New York Stock Exchange when he was only 30 years old, becoming at that time the youngest person ever to hold a seat on the exchange. In 1963, he founded William O'Neil + Co. Inc., a firm that developed the first computerized daily securities database and sold its research to institutional investors, tracking more than 70,000 companies worldwide.

Founding of Investor’s Business Daily

In 1984, O'Neil made research from his database available in print form with the launch of Investor's Daily (IBD), a national business newspaper. In 1991, the publication's name was changed to Investor’s Business Daily from Investor's Daily. In 2016, the newspaper changed its printing schedule to weekly but continued to publish news daily on its website.

A majority of IBD’s annual revenues and profits come from the company’s unique investor tools and research and analysis products, which have experienced sharp increases in popularity and profitability as more and more investors seek out quality information through digital products to guide their financial decisions.

As of 2021, IBD had a circulation of more than 100,0000, and its website attracted 2.9 million visitors a month. In that same year, News Corp announced that it had agreed to acquire Investor’s Business Daily from O’Neil.

O’Neil’s Investing Influences

O’Neil stated in an interview that an early influence on him was Gerald Loeb's The Battle for Investment Survival. According to O'Neil, this is the best book on the market. Other investors whom he has cited as influences include Bernard Baruch, Jesse Livermore, Gerald M. Loeb, Jack Dreyfus, and Nicolas Darvas. He also greatly admires Thomas Edison.

In 2002, O'Neil was awarded the Classic Award of Recognition from the AeA, at the time the largest high-tech industry group in the United States.