Back in the day, Standard Oil had a vice grip on oil just about everywhere. When you think about it, breaking a company down into 34 separate entities kind of speaks volumes about just how big Standard Oil was.
Today, the largest remnant of the company is Exxon-Mobil, and surprisingly the remnants of their competition are also still around over a hundred years later.
One of those competitors was Royal Dutch-Shell.
In 1907, Royal Dutch-Shell actually didn’t exist yet. You had a distinct company in Royal Dutch on one end and another distinct company in Shell on the other. Fun fact: Shell wasn’t always an oil-exporting company, they started out selling sea shells.
It’s true, I swear.
However, by 1906, Royal Dutch, Shell, and Standard Oil found themselves in a bitter battle for control of the Far East. In fact, near the end of the 1800’s, Rockefeller was in negotiations to acquire Shell and Royal Dutch because of their success in this region (they controlled 50 percent of all oil sales there).
From 1900 to 1905, Shell and Royal Dutch were hemorrhaging. A combination of events, such as the Russian Revolution and the loss of a promising long-term oil source at Spindletop for Shell, caused the companies to consider merging.
During all of these events, Rockefeller kept slashed prices to take back market share over his two adversaries.
Royal Dutch and Shell decided to join forces, and in 1906 they merged into one larger company.
Rockefeller found himself in a huge predicament, as the much larger company of Royal Dutch-Shell became a more sophisticated adversary overnight. They had a production base in Asia, contracts for long-term supply of Russian crude, and the capability to produce millions of barrels of crude oil.
However, by the time Rockefeller really started battling the new company, Standard Oil was already battling court cases and was later dissolved a few years later.