FORT WORTH, Texas--In 1997, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) famously introduced an ad campaign titled “Think Different” that helped the then-struggling brand regain a foothold in the computer market. Indeed, just over a decade later, the company had gone from the brink of bankruptcy to being the most valuable company in the world, thanks to that very motto that led it to entering the cell phone, digital music and nascent tablet markets.
A series of ads connected to this campaign hailed the “Crazy Ones” and focused on people such as Albert Einstein, Ted Turner, Alfred Hitchcock, Thomas Edison and Mahatma Gandhi, all of whom made major impacts on society through various means, primarily new inventions or making improvements that hadn’t previously been considered.
Today, these ads could easily include men like George Mitchell, Harold Hamm and Aubrey McClendon. These men helped revolutionize the energy industry by thinking differently. It was known for decades that the Permian and Appalachian Basins held large reserves of oil and gas, but they were considered unrecoverable due to the extreme difficulties in bringing them to the surface in a cost-effective way. Not only were these reserves considered nearly impossible to access, but their actual size was also well off target, as it turned out.
That is, until outsiders such as Mitchell, Hamm, McClendon and Bob Simpson found a way to unlock this potential and turn it into a reality that flipped the script on the world’s energy story. Similar to how Apple was not expected to be the company that would discover how to take the music industry from selling its products in strictly physical formats to a digital format, Mitchell Energy & Development Corp., Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR), Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) and XTO Energy Inc. were not expected to be the companies that would discover how to get oil and gas from shale plays in a cost-effective manner.
“The people who led the energy revolution in this country are not who you would think would have. It should have been any of the big majors, but all of the experts got it wrong and didn’t believe in shale,” Gregory Zuckerman, special reporter for The Wall Street Journal and author of The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters , said at Hart Energy’s DUG Permian Conference in Fort Worth.
“ExxonMobil was literally headquartered on top of the Barnett