From a Slate story by Seth Stevenson, on Rolex signing Tiger Woods to an endorsement contract:
Privately held since its formation in 1905, Rolex is a notoriously
tight-lipped company. It doesn’t release revenue figures, or
explain leadership transitions. (It had a total of three CEOs from
1905 until 2008, when then-CEO Patrick Heiniger resigned under
mysterious circumstances.) Even the corporate structure is a
bit murky. Rolex founder Hans Wilsdorf died childless in 1960,
leaving control of his company to a charitable foundation he’d
established. The Hans Wilsdorf Foundation runs Rolex to this day.
When I emailed a polite-but-elliptical media-relations woman to
ask whether Rolex is essentially a nonprofit, and who the
foundation’s major beneficiaries are, she responded with this
sentence: “The principal focus of the foundation is to support a
variety of philanthropic endeavors.”
I did not know that.