Standard Oil Company, Inc., was an American oil production, transportation, refining, and marketing company that operated from 1870 to 1911. At its height, Standard Oil was the largest petroleum company in the world, and its success made its co-founder and chairman, John D. Rockefeller, one of the wealthiest Americans of all time and one of the richest people in modern history. Its history as one of the world's first and largest multinational corporations ended in 1911, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was an illegal monopoly.
The company was founded in 1863 by Rockefeller and Henry Flagler, and was incorporated in 1870. Standard Oil dominated the oil products market initially through horizontal integration in the refining sector, then, in later years vertical integration; the company was an innovator in the development of the business trust. The Standard Oil trust streamlined production and logistics, lowered costs, and undercut competitors. "Trust-busting" critics accused it of using aggressive pricing to destroy competitors and form a monopoly that threatened other businesses.
Rockefeller ran the company as its chairman, until his retirement in 1897. He remained the major shareholder, and in 1911, with the dissolution of the trust into 34 smaller companies, Rockefeller became the richest person in modern history, as the initial income of these individual enterprises proved to be much bigger than that of a single larger company. Its successors such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, Amoco, and Marathon Petroleum, are still among the companies with the largest revenues in the world.