Joel Z. Hyatt (born Joel Hyatt Zylberberg; 1950) is a prominent businessman and former attorney and American politician of the Democratic party. He is the founder of Hyatt Legal Services, and was featured in the law firm's television commercials speaking the slogan, "I'm Joel Hyatt and you have my word on it." Hyatt was also the co-founder of Current TV.
Life and career
Hyatt co-founded Hyatt Legal Services in 1977 as a low-cost legal service and later founded Hyatt Legal Plans, which became the country's largest provider of employer-sponsored group legal services. Hyatt Legal Plans was acquired by MetLife in 1997.
Hyatt was a founding member of the U.S. Senate Democratic Leadership Circle and was a member of that group from 1981 to 1986. He was the Democratic National Committee's assistant treasurer from 1981 to 1983.
He is the son-in-law of former U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum and in 1994, when Metzenbaum decided to retire from the Senate, Hyatt ran to replace him. Hyatt won the Democratic nomination, but lost to then Ohio Lt. Gov. R. Michael DeWine in the general election.
Hyatt served as National Finance Chair for the Democratic party in 2000, and is a business partner of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore In 2004, Hyatt and Gore purchased Newsworld International, a cable news channel, programmed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which aired news programming from around the world. On August 1, 2005, Gore and Hyatt relaunched the network as Current TV, a young adult-programmed news and information service which pioneered the concept of user generated content on cable TV. Hyatt and Gore later sold the channel to Al Jazeera Media Network on January 2nd, 2013 for a reported 500 million dollars.
Hyatt taught entrepreneurship at Stanford University Graduate School of Business from 1998 to 2003. He is a member of the board of trustees of Morehouse College and of The Brookings Institution. Hyatt was elected to the board of directors of Hewlett-Packard Company in May 2007.
In 1990, Hyatt Legal Services paid a $157,000 judgment for illegally firing an attorney in their Philadelphia offices, Clarence B. Cain, because of his AIDS diagnosis. This case became the basis for the 1993 film Philadelphia.
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