Early life and education
Cotsakos is a first-generation Greek-American from Paterson, New Jersey and is fluent in Greek. He is the fourth of five children. His mother worked as a store clerk and his father worked as a cook.
Cotsakos graduated from Eastside High School in 1965. He enlisted in the US Army in 1967. He served in the Vietnam War as a fire team leader and squad leader with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. He was honorably discharged from active duty in 1970.
He received a BA in Communications from William Paterson University in 1973. In 1983, he received an MBA from Pepperdine University. In 2002, Cotsakos graduated with a Ph.D. in Economics from Imperial College London.
In 1973, Cotsakos started as a package handler at Federal Express in Los Angeles. In 1988 he became VP for European Operations, a title he held until 1992. For his next job, he stayed in Europe to work for ACNielsen, a market research firm. He was promoted in 1995 and served as global co-chief executive officer, president, and chief operating officer of the company. He left the Nielsen Company in 1996 to become CEO of E*TRADE, a financial services company. In April 2011, Cotsakos was announced as the Founding Chairman, CEO, and President of EndPlay, a Web Content Management System serving media, entertainment and education companies.
Cotsakos co-founded and served as co-managing general partner of ArrowPath Ventures Inc. from 1999 to 2003.
In 2000, Cotsakos served as a technical advisor at President Clinton’s first Cyber Security Summit at the White House.
He has also served as an advisor to the Military in the Information Age, a project on national defense and security systems technology sponsored by the Pentagon.
From 2003-2008, Cotsakos served as founder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president of Mainstream Holdings.
Cotsakos served on the board of directors for the FOX Entertainment Group. In 2005, News Corporation acquired a minority interest in the FOX Entertainment Group, during which time Cotsakos chaired both the audit committee and the special committee of independent directors. Cotsakos also served as the senior interactive media and internet technology advisor for News Corporation.
Cotsakos served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors for the National Democratic Party’s candidate for the President of Liberia (2005–2006).
In 2008, Cotsakos joined the Board of Directors for Enterprise Development Corporation.
Christos is the former Chairman of the Board and CEO for E*TRADE, a financial services company. He was named president and CEO in April 1996. E*TRADE had its IPO on August 16, 1996. During Cotsakos' tenure as CERO, E*TRADE became a leading online financial services company. In 2000, Cotsakos played a large role in the E*TRADE Group, Inc. acquisition of Telebank, the nation's leading pure-play Internet bank for $1.8 billion. In January 2000, E*TRADE Group, Inc. invested $5 Million in Official Payments Corp and Cotsakos joined Official Payments Corp.'s Board of Directors.
Cotsakos served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer (1998–2003) and president and chief executive officer (1996–1998) of E*TRADE Group, Inc. In July 1998, E*TRADE Group, Inc. reported revenues of $62.3 million for the third fiscal quarter of 1998.
That same year, E*TRADE Group, Inc. signed a definitive agreement to acquire Card Capture Services, Inc., the largest independent network of centrally-managed automated teller machines (ATMs) in the U.S.
Cotsakos raised $13 million in private equity to help finance E*TRADE Group, Inc.‘s start-up operations, led the company’s initial public offering and listed E*TRADE Group, Inc. on the NASDAQ under the symbol EGRP in August 1996, raising an additional $53 million. In February 2001, after the company earned $1 billion in revenue, he listed E*TRADE Group, Inc. on the NYSE under the symbol ET.
Within three years Cotsakos helped turn E*TRADE Group, Inc. into the 2nd largest online stockbroker with a 15.1% share of the average daily trades, Cotsakos made E*TRADE Group, Inc. the 2nd largest online stockbroker with a 15.1% share of the average daily trades.
During his time as CEO of E*TRADE, Fortune magazine named E*TRADE Group, Inc. as one of the 10 most admired companies in financial services in 2002 and the company received numerous industry awards and recognitions for innovation, marketing, and technology. E*TRADE Group, Inc. was included in the S&P 500 and the Forbes Super 500 in 2003.
Cotsakos raised an additional $1.5 billion to finance E*TRADE Group, Inc.’s growth, infrastructure, technology innovations, and leading brand-building strategy.
He initiated the company’s global diversification program by acquiring 18 companies for over $3 billion and broadening the company's products and services portfolio to include online banking, an ATM network, corporate stock plan administration, international and institutional multi-currency securities execution and settlement services, community and calendaring, advisory services, market making, and personalized digital financial media.
Cotsakos launched international E*TRADE Group, Inc. destinations in Canada, Europe, and Asia.
Cotsakos founded, developed, and managed E*TRADE Group, Inc.'s global investment and venture portfolio, which included early-stage financing for Archipelago, an all-electronic financial marketplace that merged with the NYSE under the name NYSE ARCA, and completed their initial public offering in 2006.
In 2001, E*TRADE experienced losses of $242 million. On April 30, 2002 E*TRADE disclosed that it had paid Cotsakos $77 million in a compensation package. On May 10, 2002 Cotsakos offered to return $21 million to E*TRADE. 38 negative articles were written about Cotsakos’ excess compensation.
During Cotsakos' last year as Chairman and CEO, E*TRADE Group, Inc. reported the most profitable year in the company's history, earning $0.45 per share from ongoing operations in 2002, delivering its 3rd consecutive cash flow positive quarter and growing GAAP quarterly net income 41 percent over the same quarter the previous year. E*TRADE Group, Inc.'s results for the quarter ending December 31, 2002 were:
- Earns $0.14 Per Share from Ongoing Operations in the Fourth Quarter
- Double the $0.07 Earnings Per Share from Ongoing Operations in the Same Quarter Last Year
- Grows GAAP(1) Quarterly Net Income 41 Percent Over Same Quarter Last Year
- Delivers Third Consecutive Cash Flow Positive Quarter
- Total active accounts 4.2MM
- Cash and cash equivalents $771MM
Cotsakos resigned from E*TRADE on January 23, 2003.
Cotsakos has a portfolio management company, Pennington Ventures, LLC, as well as with a number of start-up companies.
In 2005, Cotsakos lead a nationwide effort to create an educational center near The Wall in Washington DC.
Cotsakos served as campaign chairman for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center helping to secure a $10M raising for the fund.
He helped secure the funding for Project RENEW, a program started by Chuck Searcy, dedicated to mine removal in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam. Christos Cotsakos has travelled to Vietnam multiple times to assist with the land mine removal program and other philanthropic initiatives.
In 2000, Cotsakos traveled to Vietnam with a delegation of corporate and political leaders and donated a computer center to the University of Hanoi.
Cotsakos donated $250,000 to help rebuild the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church after it was destroyed during the collapse of the Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.
In 2002, Cotsakos delivered the commencement address to Hellenic College and Holy Cross graduates. During the event, Cotsakos announced a gift of $1M to the school in honor of the Classes of 2002.
He is engaged in civic and community activities through the Cotsakos Family Trust. The Cotsakos Family Trust focuses on education, community outreach, and wildlife and environmental preservation.
Cotsakos has served on the board of directors of the Corporate Council for the John F. Kennedy Center.
Awards and recognition
In 1984, Cotsakos received the Chief Operating Officer’s Five Star Award for Leadership and Innovation while working at Federal Express and was instrumental in Federal Express receiving the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 1990.
Cotsakos was the 2001 recipient of an Ellis Island Medal of Honor and also received Dun & Bradstreet's Chairman's Award for Global Leadership in 1993 and the President's Award in 1995 for his innovative leadership in developing and expanding international strategic business units.
Cotsakos was invited to become a Visiting Professor of Economics at The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine from 2004 to 2006.
- Entrepreneur of the Year California (Entrepreneur of the Year Institute June 1998)
- The New Entrepreneurial Elite (Inc. December 1997)
Cotsakos was featured in the October 1999 issue of Time Digital: The 50 Most Important People Shaping Technology Today.
Hellenic American Bankers Association honored Cotsakos by awarding him the Executive of the Year Award in March 2001.
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