Charles William Ergen
March 1, 1953
|Occupation||Chairman of Dish Network and EchoStar Corporation 1998-2019|
|Known for||Co-founder of Satellite provider Dish Network|
|Net worth||US$10.5 billion (November 2019)|
Charles William Ergen (born March 1, 1953) is an American billionaire businessman. He is co-founder and chairman of Dish Network and EchoStar. He stepped down as CEO of Dish in May 2011 in favor of Joseph Clayton. Ergen resumed as CEO upon Clayton's March 31, 2015 retirement and was CEO until December 2017 when he promoted president and COO Erik Carlson to CEO. Ergen owns 48 percent of Dish:6 and 46 percent of Echostar shares.:8 He holds 78 percent of Dish's:6 and 72 percent of EchoStar's:8 total voting power.
In 1980 Ergen, his future wife Candy, and Jim DeFranco started a new business called EchoSphere Corporation, investing $60,000 to purchase two C-Band antennas, targeting rural Colorado. They drove around the Denver metro area on a small budget, selling satellite dishes from the back of their truck.
In 1990 Ergen elevated EchoStar's profile by raising $335 million in junk bonds and purchasing orbital slots for satellites. Two years later, EchoStar got a DBS license from the Federal Communications Commission, giving the company its own geostationary orbital slot. In 1993, EchoStar Communications was incorporated. Under Ergen, EchoStar's net income doubled to $20.4 million, in 1993.
Under Ergen, Dish was the first satellite tv provider to offer two-way high-speed internet access and the first to introduce a Digital video recorder in a set-top box. He was also instrumental in making satellite receivers available for under $200. In 2012, the Big Four Broadcasters, NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox filed a suit against Dish after it launched AutoHop, a technology that records broadcasting programming and plays it back without commercials. Dish filed a suit seeking a declaratory judgment asserting the legality of the judgment. Preliminary injunction by Fox to block the service was denied. Ergen has stated that Dish's present focus is on acquiring a significant share of the spectrum for cellular wireless services. Dish is also looking for a partner to build a wireless network, with Google and AT&T speculated to be potential partners.
Various lawsuits in which Ergen has been involved include:
- In 2013 and 2014, Harbinger Capital Partners, a hedge fund managed by Philip Falcone, sued Dish Network and Charles Ergen personally in federal court in New York City, alleging racketeering and claiming that Dish Network had illegally tried to take away the hedge fund's control over LightSquared Inc. during its bankruptcy. In 2015, the federal court dismissed the suit.
- The Iron Workers Mid-South Pension Fund filed suit against Ergen in federal court in Colorado in September 2013. Ergen bought large amounts of LightSquared's debt at deep discounts while it was in bankruptcy. Ergen then made a personal bid of $2 billion to acquire LightSquared's assets. This increased the price that Dish had to bid in order to acquire LightSquared's rights to wireless spectrum. Indeed, Ergen ordered Dish to bid $2.2 billion on these assets. The suit claims this was a breach of Ergen's fiduciary duties to Dish shareholders. Dish and Ergen prevailed in the litigation.
- In 2005, a discrimination lawsuit was filed against EchoStar in federal court in Denver by an employee who said that EchoStar had engaged in "hostile conduct" against her after she had a baby in 2001. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount in August 2005.
Ergen was born into an Episcopalian family in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on March 1, 1953, the fourth of five children born to Viola (née Siebenthal) and William Krasny Ergen. His mother was one of the first female accountants in the state of Minnesota. His father was an Austrian immigrant who was working in Sweden as a nuclear physicist, and left Europe prior to World War II. His father coined the phrase "China Syndrome".:83 His parents married in Minnesota in 1944 and then moved to Camden, New Jersey, before settling in Oak Ridge where his father accepted a position at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Ergen received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where he was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. and an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. He was a professional blackjack and poker player.
Ergen is well known for his frugality. His office is furnished with second-hand couches and he does not fly first class. Ergen used to sign all the checks his company issued but currently signs only checks for $100,000 or more. Ergen's supporters call his negotiating style patient and prudent.
He is married to Cantey ("Candy") McAdam. They have five children. They live in The Village at Castle Pines, Colorado. Ergen is an avid mountain climber who has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Aconcagua in Argentina and Mount Everest base camp in Nepal. He is a member of the Colorado Mountain Club and has climbed all of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks. Besides mountain climbing, his interests include poker and pickup basketball.
In June 1991, Ergen was named 'Master Entrepreneur of the Year' for the Rocky Mountain region by INC Magazine. Two years prior, he had been honoured with a Home Satellite TV Association Star Award. Ergen played a key role in fighting for American consumers' rights to watch local television channels via satellite, which became a reality after the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act was passed in 1999. He has been an advocate of video competition issues and testified before the Congress, in this regard, on numerous occasions. He was recognized with a Rocky Mountain News' Business Person of the Year Award in 1996, and honoured a second time in 2001.
Ergen also won the Frost & Sullivan 2001 CEO of the Year of the Satellite Industry. In 2000 he was named 'Space Industry Business Man of the Year.' Ergen was named one of the 'World's Best CEOs' by Barron's magazine in 2007. He was also mentioned in Forbes Magazine 'Top Ten CEOs' list. Ergen co-founded the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association. He was in the 2012 class of inductees to the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame.
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- "Schedule 14A". SEC. 28 March 2018. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
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- "EchoStar to Acquire Hughes for About $1.32 Billion". Bloomberg. 14 February 2011. Cite journal requires
- "DISH Network's Intriguing 2011 Acquisitions". 4 December 2012. Cite journal requires
- Jonathan Stempel, Harbinger sues Dish, Ergen over LightSquared, seeks $1.5 billion, Reuters (July 21, 2015).
- Kurt Orzeck, Dish, Ergen Escape Harbinger's $1.5B Suit Over LightSquared, Law360 (April 28, 2015).
- "Shareholders Sue Dish, Charlie Ergen Over $2.2 Billion Spectrum Bid". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
- "Female EchoStar Executives Charge Ergen with 'Abusive Behavior'". Denver Post. United States. 6 April 2005.
- "EchoStar worker suit alleges sex misconduct". denverpost.com. 2006-06-12. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
- "Oral History of Viola Ergen, Interviewed by Keith McDaniel". Center for Oak Ridge Oral History. 18 July 2011.
"We joined the Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church in '48 when we came here."
- "BusinessWeek resume". Businessweek.
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