Richard Weening

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Richard Weening (born December 24, 1945) is an American entrepreneur and venture capitalist.


Richard Weening was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Richard W. Weening a Friesian immigrant dairy farmer and Alice Louise Young, from Mattoon, Illinois, whose family came to America in 1620 on the Mayflower.[1] He graduated from Thomas Aquinas High School in 1963, where he was President of the Student Body.[2] He obtained a BA degree from St. John’s University.[3] He was an aide to a U.S. Congressman, Chief of Staff to a Governor of Wisconsin and later the founder of several privately held and public technology and media companies. Weening was married in 1968 to Elizabeth Halmbacher,[4] They divorced in 1972. He and Elizabeth had two daughters, Max Airborne and Mia Lynn Weening, who reside in San Francisco, CA. In 1981, Weening married Deborah Ann Gardner [5] and they divorced in 1985. In 1990 Weening married Robin Lorraine Woodard.[6] They divorced in 2009. Weening is currently CEO of QUAESTUS & Co., Inc., a private equity fund management company and Chairman and CEO of Prolitec Inc., an indoor air quality and environmental services technology company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[7][8] Weening resides in Seattle, Washington and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Public service[edit]

From 1968 to 1970 Weening served as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Henry S. Reuss (D-Wis).[9] During this time, as a Reuss aide, Weening helped to start Northside Citizens Neighborhood Conservation Corporation, a not-for-profit low income housing development organization in Milwaukee to serve as a pilot demonstration of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 which Reuss and others had authored.[10] He left Reuss in 1970 to run the gubernatorial campaign of Patrick J. Lucey and served as Governor Lucey's Chief of Staff until 1972. In 1972 he left the governor’s office to become National Political Director for New York Mayor John V. Lindsay’s bid for the Democratic Presidential Nomination. Lindsey withdrew following his defeat in the Wisconsin primary. He subsequently served as Chairman of the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners from 1973 to 1984.

Business career[edit]

In 1972, Weening founded Advanced Learning Concepts Inc., to develop and publish teaching materials and programs for developmentally disabled children based on early childhood research work of the Waisman Center University of Wisconsin–Madison.[11] In 1974, Advanced Learning Concepts changed its name to Raintree Publishers and expanded into general educational publishing of non-fiction information and reference books for children in kindergarten to 12th grade. Weening served as President and Publisher from 1972 to 1985. [12]

In 1977, Raintree formed Macdonald-Raintree, a joint venture with UK printer and publisher BPC Ltd. Weening served as CEO. In August 1980, British Publishing magnate Robert Maxwell made a hostile takeover bid for Raintree's partner BPC. In collaboration with several British financial institutions and business leaders including Hambros Bank and Electra Investment Trust and Rupert Murdoch, Weening led a “white knight” effort to fight off Maxwell and, with the support of BPC's Chairman, gain control of BPC British Printing Corporation and its Macdonald Publishing Group.[13][14] Weening's effort did not succeed and Maxwell won the takeover battle but later lost control after being accused of looting the pension funds of his various companies. In lawsuits which lasted 10 years, Weening and Maxwell fought over Maxwell’s alleged mismanagement of British Printing Corporation and Raintree's alleged mismanagement of Macdonald-Raintreer.[15] The dispute was resolved shortly after Maxwell was found dead in the sea near the Canary Islands in a presumed accidental fall from his yacht.[16]

In 1981 Raintree acquired magazine publisher AgriData Resources (including FarmFutures magazine). Weening served as CEO and Publisher until it was sold in 1989.[17] Meanwhile, in 1983 Weening started AgriData Network, one of the first commercial online information services, which made a public offering in 1987 and continues today as ARI Network Services (ARIS:OB).[18][19] Weening served as a Director until 2008. In 1984 Weening founded Caribbean Communications Company, an FM radio network in the English-speaking Caribbean headquartered in Montserrat. GEM Radio 93.9 went on the air May 15, 1984.[20] In 1989, following the sale of AgriData Resources to ABC Publishing, Weening founded QUAESTUS & Co., Inc, a private venture capital firm which specializes in start-up companies.[21]

In 1993 QUAESTUS acquired another online services company Connect Inc. and converted it into an enterprise software company that built the first e-commerce platform for business.[22] Connect did an initial public offering in 1995 (formerly NASDAQ:CNCT) and was later acquired by another e-commerce company. In 1996, QUAESTUS funded the start-up of Cumulus Media (NASDAQ:CMLS), a radio broadcasting company which completed an initial public offering in 1998 and by the end of 1999 owned and operated 260 stations in 48 US cities.[23] Among the company’s early acquisitions was Caribbean Communications Company. Weening served as Cumulus’ Executive Chairman from 1996 to 2000. He served as a member of the Cumulus board of directors until 2002.

In 2001 the Security and Exchange Commission accused Weening of attempting to improve the 1999 fourth quarter earnings of Cumulus by reducing a part of his 1999 compensation.[24] Though the proposed refund was never implemented, the SEC believed the proposal was an effort to manage earnings and threatened to file a civil lawsuit. Weening avoided the lawsuit by paying a $75,000 fine without admitting or denying guilt.

In 2003, a fund managed by QUAESTUS acquired Prolitec SA, a French technology company. The Company relocated from France to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and operates as Prolitec Inc., a provider of indoor air quality and environmental services including ambient scenting, odor control and infection control systems.[25][26] Weening is Chairman and CEO of Prolitec and Manager of its Aerobiology and Infection Control business unit. Weening resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Seattle, Washington.

References and sources[edit]

  1. ^ Richard W. Weening Obituary, NL-NOORD-HOLLAND-L Archives,
  2. ^ 1963 Thomas Aquinas High School Yearbook, Page 50
  3. ^ St. John's University
  4. ^ State Bar of Wisconsin, Lawyer Directory, Elizabeth Halmbacher[dead link]
  5. ^ Deborah Gardner Conta on LinkedIn,
  6. ^ Columbia Business School, 2008 Reunion, Robin Lorraine Woodard 1978
  7. ^ Quaestus & Co., Inc. Web Site[dead link]
  8. ^ Prolitec Inc. Web Site, Management Team[dead link]
  9. ^ Biographical Directory of the United States Congress - Henry Schoellkopf Reuss
  10. ^ U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Web site -- Fair Housing Laws: Fair Housing Act
  11. ^ Waisman Center for Mental Retardation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
  12. ^ Heinemann Raintree Library and Classroom Books
  13. ^ Times Online -- Obituary of Peter Robinson, Chairman and chief executive, British Printing Corporation, November 15, 2007
  14. ^ Mcdonald Publishing Web Site
  15. ^ Listing for Macdonald-Raintree Inc. title From Freedom to Freedom : African Roots in American Soil
  16. ^ BNET Business Network, "The mystery of Maxwell's death," Robert Verkaik, March 10, 2006
  17. ^ FarmFutures Magazine Web Site
  18. ^ CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 12, DECEMBER 1983, PAGE 216, "Farm videotex: as American as apple pie," G. Berton Latamore[dead link]
  19. ^ ARI's Web Site, Press Releases[dead link]
  20. ^ HighBeam Research; "MONTSERRAT: GEM Radio extends FM to Trinidad," September 1, 1995
  21. ^ Quaestus & Co. Inc. Web Site
  22. ^ BNET Business Network -- CONNECT, Inc. launches membership in Oracle Web Alliance; Business Alliance to Target Internet Interactive Commerce Opportunities in Retail, Telecom and Financial Services Markets, January 3, 1996
  23. ^ Hoover's Profile -- Cumulus Media Inc.
  24. ^ The Business Journal of Milwaukee -- Weening agrees to pay fine in SEC investigation of Cumulus, December 12, 2003
  25. ^ Prolitec Inc.'s Web Site
  26. ^ Abercrombie & Fitch Web Site, Investor Relations News Release -- Abercrombie Chooses In-Store Scent Technology, September 18, 2008

External links[edit]