Coca Cola began as a project of Colonel John Pemberton, injured in the civil war and determined to create an alternative to the destructive opiates he used for pain relief. The businessman Asa Griggs Candler eventually purchased the corporation for $550 dollars and made his fortune marketing and selling the beverage. He later retired and successfully ran for governor in Atlanta. In 1919 the Coca Cola company was purchased by a group of investors led by Ernest Woodruff for 25 million dollars.
Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans became the first woman to serve on the Coca Cola board of directors in 1934. She came from one of Virginia’s most prestigious families, and her association with the Coca Cola corporation stems from an 1899 deal where her brother, Joseph Whitehead, approached Coca Cola and convinced them to bottle their beverages.
Robert Woodruff, son of Ernest Woodruff, was president of the Coca Cola Corporation from 1923 until 1954. Robert internationalized Coca Cola and is credited with bringing it to the worldwide prominence that it enjoys today. He was perhaps the most important figure in determining the direction and charter of the Coca Cola company, shaping its policies for almost 60 years as president and member of the board of directors.
The Coca Cola company was later purchased Columbia Pictures, which was at the time owned by Allen & Company LLC, a group of investors specializing in corporate buyouts. When Herbert Allen Jr. took control of Allen & Company, he earned a place at the board of directors for Coca Cola and has been there ever since.
Herbert Allen Jr. is the son of Herb Allen Sr., a man who dropped out of high school to pursue a career trading in the stock market and eventually went on to join Allen & Company, founded by his older brother. He and the investment company were pioneers in corporate buyouts and became some of the richest men in America, owing companies specializing in mining, pharmaceuticals, and real estate.
It was Herb Allen Jr. who, as president of Allen & Company at only 27 years of age, facilitated the purchase of Columbia Pictures which led him on a path to the Coca Cola board of directors.
Muhtar Kent is the current CEO of Coca Cola, and has worked with the Coca Cola Corporation since 1978.