John C. Malone

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John Malone
John Carl Malone

(1941-03-07) March 7, 1941 (age 79)
EducationYale University (BA)
New York University (MS)
Johns Hopkins University (MS, PhD)
Net worthUS$6.6 billion (May 2020)[1]

John Carl Malone (born March 7, 1941) is an American billionaire businessman, landowner and philanthropist. He was chief executive officer (CEO) of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), a cable and media giant, for twenty-four years from 1973 to 1996. Malone is now chairman and largest voting shareholder of Liberty Media, Liberty Global, and Qurate Retail Group (formerly known as Liberty Interactive), and also owns 7% of Lionsgate and Starz Inc..[2][3][4][5] He was interim CEO of Liberty Media, until succeeded by former Microsoft and Oracle CFO Greg Maffei. By most estimates, Malone is the largest private landowner in the United States, possessing upwards of 2.2 million acres (3,437 square miles), more than twice the size of Rhode Island.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

John C. Malone was born on March 7, 1941, in Milford, Connecticut.[7][8] His father was Daniel L. Malone, an engineer.[9] Malone is of Irish heritage, his family originating in County Cork.[10][11][12] Malone is a Catholic. [13]

In 1959, Malone graduated from Hopkins School in New Haven, Connecticut. In 1963, he graduated from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and economics,[14] where he was a Phi Beta Kappa and National Merit scholar. In 1964, Malone graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a master's degree in industrial management.[14] He received a master's in electrical engineering at an NYU program at Bell Labs in 1965 before receiving his PhD in operations research at Johns Hopkins in 1967.[15]

Business career[edit]

In 1963, Malone began his business career at Bell Telephone Laboratories of AT&T, working in economic planning and research and development. In 1968, he joined McKinsey & Company, and in 1970, became group vice president at General Instrument Corporation (GI). He was later president of Jerrold Electronics, a GI subsidiary. For twenty-four years, from 1973 to 1996, Malone served as president and CEO of Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI).[14]

Malone is on the boards of directors for Bank of New York Mellon,, Charter Communications, Discovery, Inc., and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.[16] Malone is chairman emeritus of Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. and chairman of Liberty Global, Inc., and formerly the DirecTV Group.[15] His rise to chairman at Liberty Global was contentious at times.

In 2005, Malone held 32 percent of the shares in the media company News Corporation, and although only about half were voting shares, Rupert Murdoch reportedly had concerns that he might lose control of his company to Malone, and tried to oust him from the firm with a "poison pill" strategy.[17] He was director of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) from 1974 to 1977, and again from 1980 to 1993. During the 1977–1978 term, Malone was the NCTA's treasurer.[15]

In 1992, Malone coined the term 500-channel universe to describe a future media environment where a vast number of TV channels would be available, by eliminating the need for broadcast radio channels as a scarce resource.[18]

Land ownership[edit]

Malone owns Silver Spur Ranches, a ranching and beef company which includes the Silver Spur Ranch in Encampment, Wyoming, Bell Ranch and the TO Ranch in New Mexico as well as ranches in Walden, Colorado and Kiowa, Colorado.[8][19] As of 1 February 2011, he surpassed Ted Turner as the largest individual private landowner in the US, owning 2,200,000 acres (8,900 km2) of land, much of which is in Maine, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming.[6] His international real estate holdings include Humewood Castle[20] and Castlemartin House and Estate, both in Ireland.


In 2000, Malone gave $24 million for the construction of Yale's Daniel L. Malone Engineering Center, named in honor of his father.[9] In 2011, Malone gave the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering's largest gift ever of $30 million for a new building on Homewood Campus.[14] The building will be named Malone Hall.[21] In the same year, he gave the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science's largest gift ever of $50 million.[9] Malone has also given $60 million to Hopkins School to fund the construction of two new buildings, Malone Science Center, named for his father, as well as Heath Commons, named after his favorite Hopkins teacher.

In 2014, Malone and his wife donated $42.5 million to Colorado State University to help create their Institute for Biologic Translational Therapies, which aims to develop stem cell and other treatments for animals and people. Of the donation, $32.5 million will pay for half the construction costs and $10 million will go to operational expenses.[22]

Malone Scholars Program[edit]

In 1997, he established the Malone Family Foundation, which operates the Malone Scholars Program that provides scholarship endowments to select private schools throughout the United States after a rigorous research process of top schools,[23] including Hopkins School, Waynflete School, Seabury Hall, and thirty-six others as of 2011.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Malone is married to Leslie, they have two children, and live in Elizabeth, Colorado, US[1][25] His wife is active in dressage and horse breeding, and founded Harmony Sporthorses in Kiowa, Colorado.[26]

In 2008, their son Evan D. Malone joined the board of Liberty Media.[27][28]

Malone reportedly shuns the limelight and glamorous lifestyle and takes his family vacations alongside long time friend Gary Biskup, in a recreational vehicle.[29][30] However, in business dealings he has been dubbed "Darth Vader", a nickname allegedly given to him by Al Gore when Malone was the head of TCI, where he demanded equity positions in cable programming services in return for carriage, and attempted to defeat the must-carry rules which protected broadcasters, a battle which the cable industry eventually lost in 1997 in the U.S. Supreme Court.[31][32]

John Malone was awarded "Citizen Of The West", presented by then-Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

In 1994, Wired portrayed Malone on their cover as "Mad Max" from The Road Warrior (also known as Mad Max 2), with an interview describing his battles with the FCC.[33] He is also known as the "Cable Cowboy".[34]

Malone's political beliefs have been described as libertarian.[35] He is on the board of directors for the Cato Institute. He donated US$250,000 to Donald Trump's inauguration in 2017, with colleague Greg Maffei, Liberty Media, and Liberty Interactive each donating a further US$250,000.[36]


  1. ^ a b "Forbes profile: John Malone". Forbes. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  2. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (14 March 2016). "CBS Mulling Acquisition Of Pay Cable Network Starz".
  3. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (15 March 2016). "John Malone: 'Cable Cowboy' Faces the Test in Rounding Up the Right Mix of Assets". Variety.
  4. ^ Busch, David Lieberman, Anita (10 November 2015). "Lionsgate Strengthens Ties To John Malone: Liberty Global Buy Stakes".
  5. ^ Williams, Christopher (22 November 2015). "John Malone: the mystery method behind a media empire". Daily Telegraph.
  6. ^ a b Stebbins, Samuel (2019-11-25). "Who owns the most land in America? Jeff Bezos and John Malone are among them". USA Today. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  7. ^ "Gift from alumnus John Malone to fund engineering building". Yale Bulletin & Calendar. Archived from the original on 2009-04-18. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  8. ^ a b Jeff Hull, Meet the largest landowner in America, Fortune, September 27, 2012
  9. ^ a b c "SEAS nets $50 million donation". Yale Daily News. Archived from the original on 2011-05-30. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  10. ^ Patrick Counihan (December 27, 2012). "Irish American John Malone pays $10million for luxury Irish estate". IrishCentral.
  11. ^ Peter Flanagan (December 22, 2014). "US mogul John Malone buys up former Tony O'Reilly estate Castlemartin for €28m". Irish Independent.
  12. ^ Kim Bielenberg (April 5, 2014). "Homecoming of two million acre man John C Malone". Irish Independent.
  13. ^ Catholic Online (October 13, 2011). "Who is America's largest landowner?". Catholic Online.
  14. ^ a b c d GmbH, finanzen net. "Sirius XM's $3.5 billion Pandora deal is a bet on the future of streaming — here's how its largest shareholder, 'cable cowboy' John Malone, came to be worth $9 billion | Markets Insider". Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  15. ^ a b c "Company Overview -–Management". Liberty Media. Retrieved 2014-02-09.
  16. ^ "Leadership:Dr. John C. Malone". Discovery, Inc. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  17. ^ Trefgarne, George (August 26, 2005). "Murdoch's son sees pay doubled ahead of exit". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  18. ^ "Editorial: Going a la carte is right for cable. | Goliath Business News". 2011-06-15. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  19. ^ "Silver Spur Ranches". Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  20. ^ Flynn, Finbarr (21 May 2013). "John Malone Buys Irish 'Green Banana' as Castle Prices Fall". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2013-05-21.
  21. ^ "Liberty's Malone Makes Largest Gift Ever to Whiting School". Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
  22. ^ "Billionaire John Malone Donates Millions to Colorado State University". CBS Denver. 29 December 2014. Retrieved 2015-04-28.
  23. ^ "About the Foundation: Who We Are". Malone Family Foundation. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  24. ^ "Malone Scholars: Program Schools Offering Malone Scholarships". Malone Family Foundation. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  25. ^ "John Malone: The US billionaire buying up Ireland". Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Leslie Malone Is Growing U.S. Dressage One Horse And Rider At A Time". Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  27. ^ "Evan Malone joins Liberty Media board". Denver Business Journal. 14 August 2008. Retrieved 2020-04-14.
  28. ^ Bennett, Laurie. "Billionaire Offspring on Boards Can Spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E". Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  29. ^ "Darth Vader and the Sun King". London: The Independent. October 1, 2000. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
  30. ^ "An RV Story... McMansions On Wheels". October 15, 2005. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
  31. ^ Jamie Doward (July 6, 2003). "Ruthless champion of Liberty". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
  32. ^ Mark Lewis (July 11, 2001). "Cable's Darth Vader Is Back". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-02-11.
  33. ^ Kline, David (July 1994). "Infobahn Warrior". Wired. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  34. ^ Graham Rapier (August 10, 2017). "The amazing life of billionaire 'Cable Cowboy' John Malone, the single largest landowner in the US". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  35. ^ Littleton, Cynthia (May 18, 2016). "John Malone Talks TV Biz, Presidential Politics and His TCI Regret in Candid Q&A". Variety.
  36. ^ Avery, Greg (April 19, 2017). "Here are Colorado's biggest donors to Trump's inauguration". Denver Business Journay.

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