Friday, July 10, 2009

Clayton Jacobson II

With the holiday weekend just behind us, I looked to summer fun for inspiration for today’s hero. Clayton Jacobson is credited as the inventor of the personal watercraft – best known as the JetSki. Jacobson’s inspiration came from his time as a dirt bike rider. He took his love for that activity and tried to figure out a way to transfer it to the water. His original idea worked well enough that Jacobson quit his job as a banker to pursue improvements to the design on a full-time basis. By 1968, Jacobson had a deal with the Bombardier Corporation to manufacture a version of his invention that became known as the Sea-Doo.

The Sea-Doo met with limited success and Jacobson eventually moved on to work with Kawasaki on a new version of the person watercraft. Improvements were made and the Jet Ski found its niche. Kawasaki went on to sell over a billion dollars worth of Jet Skis over the next two decades, but a dispute over ownership of the patents led to a split between Jacobson and the corporation and an eventual lawsuit in which Jacobson received a significant financial settlement, acknowledging his part in the evolution of the concept.

So for his contributions to summer fun and to the creation of a tremendous amount of wealth along the way, Clayton Jacobson is a Hero of Capitalism.

More on Clayton Jacobson

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