William G McGowan was born on 10th December in 1927 and became a billionaire by founding and working as the chairman of MCI Communications, which was an American telecommunications company that grew to become the second biggest long distance provider in America. By leading the company he played an essential role in the breakup of the company American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) which was in the past the largest telephone company in the world.
He was born in Ashley in Pennsylvania and joined the US army after the graduated from high school, serving as a medic for around two and a half years. When he was discharged from the army he went to Kings College in Pennsylvania and achieved a degree in chemical engineering. After this he went to Harvard Business School from which he graduated in 1954. He then went on to manage a consulting firm which helped to rescue companies that were in trouble in the garment district of New York City. The agency after about a year began to raise venture capital, which led to McGowan dealing with firms that were developing ultrasonic cleaning technology and electro-mechanical equipment.
It was in 1968 that he was first contacted by MCI due to the fact that he was experienced and skilled at raising venture capital. He invested $50,000 into the business and became chairman of Microwave Communications of America which was the predecessor to MCI Communications. Working as the chairman he raised capital for the company and set up 15 regional carriers that made the basis of the communications network for the company, out of 17. It was in 1971 that he reorganised the company into MCI Communications.
He worked extremely hard at his job, often working fifteen hours a day. In 1974 MCI filed a lawsuit against AT&T, and in 1982 McGowan’s work led to the divestiture of AT&T and the creation of a long distance telephony market in America.
On 21st December 1986, he suffered from a heart attack which led to him receiving a heart transplant on 25th April 1987. After six months he returned to work until he died on 8th June 1992 from another heart attack.
MCI Communications in 1991 had made $9.5 billion in revenues and managed 16% of the American domestic and international long distance market. Before his death McGowan set up the William G. McGowan School of Business at King’s College.