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Bring It On

There's nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. In fact, it's what some entrepreneurs live for.

This story appears in the April 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The fresh-faced teenager in the McDonald's commercial might be smiling and seem friendly, but fast-food legend Ray Kroc once said, "If I ever saw a competitor drowning, I'd put a live fire hose in his mouth."

Don't judge the late Ray Kroc too harshly. He was speaking of an age-old tradition. Entrepreneurs have always trounced the competition, and it hasn't always been pretty. in the 1800s, John D. Rockefeller made Standard Oil company into a monopoly, controlling 90 percent of the oil market, by negotiating secret rebates with railroads, bribing Congressmen and committing industrial espionage. About the same time, in England, the United Kingdom Telegraph Company hired men to cut down the poles of its rival, Electric Telegraph Company. As that century closed, newspaper baron William Randolph Hearst helped start the Spanish-American War to sell newspapers and crush his competition. More recently, Microsoft has been in the news facing accusations of using unfair business practices in an attempt to build its own monopoly.

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