Philip “Phil” Knight (b.1938) is an American entrepreneur, corporate executive, and philanthropist. He is the founder of Nike. Cashing in on the fitness craze of the ’70s and the ’80s, Knight turned Nike into the world’s most prominent designer and wholesaler of athletic footwear and sports attire.
While a student at the Stanford Business School, Knight created a business plan to cash in on Japan’s low cost of manufacturing by offering reasonably priced shoes in the American market. After graduating from Stanford in 1962, he pursued his business plan even as working as a financial accountant. He started importing running shoes from Japan, formed a shoe company, and sold the shoes with the Blue Ribbon Sports brand. A marketing assistant happened with the name Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, as a new brand. Knight hired a college design student for US$35 to create the Nike’s iconic “swoosh” logo.
The first Nike-branded product was a soccer shoe. When Nike shoes became trendy, Knight renamed his company Nike, Inc. Nike went public in 1980, and Knight used the proceeds of the stock offering to expand internationally and launch many other lines of athletic products. Through skillful advertising and innovative product development, Knight built a billion dollar business in ten years. In 1988, Nike launched its legendary “Just Do It” marketing campaign and laid the foundation for continued growth around the world.
Knight’s autobiography Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike appeared in 2016.