Robert F. X. Sillerman
|Robert F.X. Sillerman|
|Born||April 12, 1948|
|Alma mater||Brandeis University|
|Years active||1966 to present|
Robert F.X. Sillerman (born April 12, 1948) is an American businessman and media entrepreneur. Sillerman was the owner of a range of television and radio stations during the 1970s and 1980s, In 1993 he formed SFX Broadcasting, and then built SFX Entertainment—a concert and stage performance promoter that was sold to Clear Channel in 2000 for $4.4 billion. He refounded SFX Entertainment in 2012 as a promoter of electronic music festivals, and is also the founder of Viggle. He is also the namesake of The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis University. Once on the Forbes 400 list, he also briefly owned the WLAF's New York/New Jersey Knights.
Early life and education
Sillerman grew up in a Jewish family in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx. His father Michael, founded the Keystone Radio Network. He attended Brandeis University. By day he majored in political science, while by night in 1966 he launched Youth Market Consultants, offering fellow students discount magazine subscriptions while advising marketers on how to target the teen set. He sold the Company in 1971, and then launched I P+E, a sales marketing and promotion company. He sold the company in 1972 to the Boston ad firm, Ingalls. Married to copywriter Laura Baudo, whom he met at Ingalls.
Radio and SFX
In 1978 Sillerman and deejay Bruce Morrow bought two radio stations in upstate New York for $1.875 million. They acquired additional radio and TV stations, including WALL and WKGL (Middletown, New York); WJJB (now WCZX; Hyde Park, New York); WHMP (Northampton, Massachusetts); WOCN (South Yarmouth, Massachusetts); WRAN (Randolph, New Jersey); WPLR (New Haven, Connecticut) and the television station WATL (Atlanta, Georgia). In 1985 Sillerman entered into a partnership with radio/television industry executive Carl E. Hirsch (known as Legacy Broadcasting) to acquire KJOI-FM, Los Angeles for a then record-setting $44 million, as well as other stations in Denver, Detroit, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Houston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York City. The company was merged at the end of 1989 with a unit of Westinghouse Broadcasting in a then record-setting transaction worth $727 million.
In 1989 Sillerman formed a Capstar Communications. Capstar applied for and received permission to operate more than one class of radio station in the same market. This ultimately led to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 allowing for ownership of multiple stations in single markets Capstar merged with Command Communications, another radio group Sillerman founded, ultimately changing its name to SFX Broadcasting. SFX bought up enough stations to become the nation's seventh largest chain. Texast SFX Broadcasting sold its 71 radio stations for $2.1 billion in 1998. In the sale to SFX kept two small concert promoters, and renamed the company SFX Entertainment (concert promotion, sports agencies), turning SFX Entertainment into the world’s largest producer, promoter and presenter of live entertainment. He sold the company SFX Entertainmentto Clear Channel for $4.4 billion in 2000. He also made money on Broadway as an executive producer for Mel Brooks’ musical The Producers.
Leading CKX, Inc., Sillerman bought majority rights to Graceland, the Elvis Presley estate; as well as the assets of Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, whose assets include TV hit American Idol and managed clients including football player David Beckham. The company also held a stake in Morra, Brezner, Steinberg & Tenenbaum Entertainment, the management company for Woody Allen, Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. The company also acquired 80% in Muhammad Ali Enterprises. In 2011, Apollo Management purchased CKX in 2011 for $512 million.
Flag Luxury Properties
In May 2009, Credit Suisse filed a request for summary judgment in New York State Supreme Court, alleging Sillerman had failed to pay the outstanding balance due under a credit agreement with Flag Luxury Properties LLC and that Sillerman defaulted on a series of payments due since April 2008, totaling $21.4 million. In a July 2009 interview with the New York Post Sillerman admitted failure, stating with reference to the Flag project: "I’m not very knowledgeable about real estate."
On February 8, 2011 Sillerman announced an agreement to acquire control of Gateway Industries, Inc. (GWAY.PK). The transaction renamed the company to Function (X), Inc. and changing its listing on the stock exchange to FNCX. The first product the company produced was called “Viggle”, released in January 2012, which used a mobile app as its primary interface. Viggle registers the television show you are watching, and engages the users with a loyalty program for viewing particular programs. Early rewards included gift cards to retail establishments. The app will also display the social media activity for other shows at the same time, along with what rewards are available for changing the channel to competing programs. On Jun 7, 2012, Function (X), Inc. was renamed Viggle, which changed the company stock listing to VGGL. As of the end of 2013 Viggle had about 3.7 million users. In December 2013 Viggle acquired Wetpaint for $30 million in stock and in early 2014 Viggle acquired Digit Media, an entertainment app producer. Its main app NextGuide and Digit Reminder Button was integrated into Viggle software. As of December 2013, Viggle companies had a combined 17 million monthly users. In July 2014, Viggle recorded its best month and as of that month the site had seven million users.
Sillerman restarted SFX Entertainment in 2012, focusing on electronic dance music, including the acquisition of Beatport for about $50 million. It was reported that SFX was initially in talks with about fifty different electronic music festival promoters for possible acquisition, and was looking to spend about one billion dollars an acquiring different companies. In 2013 SFX acquired electronic music festival promoters ID&T, Made Event, and Totem. In October of that year, the company made an IPO of $13 per share. DJ Afrojack was in attendance and helped ring the opening bell of the NASDAQ exchange. In addition to music festival promoters, SFX has also acquired MMG Nightlife, which operates the electronic music nightclubs LIV and Story in Miami. In 2014 SFX purchased the company React Presents. That year the company also purchased Plus Talent, a festival and party promoter in Brazil. Music festivals that are provided by SFX companies as of 2014 included Spring Awakening, Summer Set Music, TomorrowWorld, Mysteryland, Electric Zoo, Sensation, Disco Donnie Presents, Stereosonic, and Life in Color. On October 8, Sillerman bought back 575,000 shares of SFX on the open market; at this point the company’s market cap was $834 million.
From 1993 Sillerman served as the Chancellor of the Southampton College of Long Island University, replacing Angier Biddle Duke. Sillerman took the job on two conditions: that the college scrap ill-defined programs and focus on marine science and creative writing and that he be allowed to handle publicity. In that spirit, he named Kermit the Frog as the 1996 commencement speaker: 31 newspapers picked up the story, a free marketing bonanza that raised the college's profile and drew hundreds of new admissions. In 2000, Sillerman donated a $15 million gift through the Tomorrow Foundation to extend the library and for marine science scholarships.
In 2008, Sillerman donated $10 million in order to found The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis University. At the time it was the largest gift ever received by an alumnus to the university. For thirteen years, Sillerman served as the Chancellor of Southampton College and is the founder of The Tomorrow Foundation. Sillerman is also a donor and fundraiser for the Democrat Party in the United States.
In May 2012, Sillerman was accused of sexual harassment by an employee of Function X. The dispute was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. In February 2014, a lawsuit was filed against Sillerman, for allegedly having defrauded a trio of business partners. The suit alleges that Mr. Sillerman in emails promised a joint partnership in which the plaintiffs would receive 2.5 million "founders shares" of SFX, which never materialized.
- "Bio in the 2005 Forbes 400, he was #375". Forbes. 2005.
- "Robert F X Sillerman purchases WAFL NY-New Jersey Knights for $11 million". December 20, 1990.
- "Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How the Public Got Scalped" By Dean Budnick, Josh Baron Apr 24, 2012
- "KJOI-FM's $75-Million Price an Industry Record: Station's Sale Key Part of $155-Million Ownership Shuffle That Also Affects KTWV, Westwood One". Los Angeles Times. 1988.
- "American Idol Sillerman Dealt Elvis Default Heartbreak in Vegas". Bloomberg. 2009.
- "Clear Channel buys SFX". CNN Money. 2000.
- "The Rugged Elegance Inspiration Network: Elvis Presley Enterprise's New Owner, Robert FX Sillerman Offers $100M: "Graceland" Daughter Lisa Marie Accepts!"
- NASDAQ (March 31, 2014). "Mobile app Viggle sets terms for $50 million NASDAQ listing".
- NASDAQ (August 7, 2014). "Viggle Inc. Records Best Month to Date".
- A Concert Mogul Is Betting on Electronic Dance Music
- "Choosing honorary degree recipient an often-painstaking process". Post Gazette. 2014.
- "Long Island University Magazine". Long Island University. 2000.
- "United States SEC".
- "Music Managers Allege Deceit by SFX Founder". The Wall Street Journal. February 5, 2014.