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. He graduated from Thomas Aquinas High School in 1963, where he was President of the Student Body. He obtained a BA degree from St. John's University. He was an aide to a U.S. Congressman Chief of Staff to the state Governor and later the founder and CEO of several privately held and public technology and media companies. Weening is currently President of QUAESTUS & Co., a private equity fund management company and Chairman and CEO of Prolitec Inc., a technology, media, and fragrance company specializing in commercial ambient scenting services. Prolitec is headquartered in Seattle, Washington and Milwaukee, Wisconsin and provides scenting services to several industry sectors including retail, hospitality, healthcare, transportation and commercial buildings in the U.S and 80 countries. Weening resides in Seattle, Washington.
From 1968 to 1970 Weening served as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Henry S. Reuss (D-Wis). 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. 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.
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. 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.
In 1977, Raintree formed childrens book publisher Macdonald-Raintree, a joint venture with UK printer and publisher BPC Ltd. Weening served as CEO. In 1981 Raintree acquired magazine publisher AgriData Resources (including FarmFutures magazine). Weening served as CEO and Publisher until it was sold in 1989. 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 (NASDAQ: ARIS). 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. In 1989, following the sale of AgriData Resources to ABC Publishing, Weening founded QUAESTUS & Co., Inc, a private equity fund management firm which specializes in start-up media and technology companies.
In 1993 QUAESTUS acquired another online services company Connect Inc.and converted it into an internet-based enterprise software company that built One-Server the first internet e-commerce platform for business. Connect did an initial public offering in 1995 (formerly NASDAQ:CNCT) and was later acquired by another e-commerce company.
In 1996 Weening and radio industry executive Lew Dickey founded Cumulus Media (NASDAQ:CMLS), a radio broadcasting company they headquartered in Milwaukee, WI Cumulus completed an initial public offering in 1998 and by the end of 1999 owned and operated 260 stations in 48 US cities. Caribbean Communications Company was merged into Cumulus. Weening served as Cumulus’ Executive Chairman from 1996 to 2000. He served as a member of the Cumulus board of directors until 2002.
In 2003,a fund managed by QUAESTUS acquired Prolitec SA, a French technology company. In 2004 the Company relocated from France to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and operates as Prolitec Inc., a global provider of home air care systems and ambient scenting services for business. . Weening is now Chairman and CEO of Prolitec Inc.
Weening is personally active as a venture philanthropist providing micro capital to entrepreneurs and small start-ups. Interested in conservation, Weening served as a Trustee of the African Wildlife Foundation www.awf.org Nairobi,Kenya and D.C. from 2004 to 2010. Weening's life partner is Victoria Hall Leslie, a philanthropist and charitable fund manager in Seattle. Weening and Leslie have 4 adult children between Max Airborne of Oakland CA ;Mia Lynn Weening, San Francisco: Robyn Leslie. San Francisco and Jessica Leslie, New York.
References and sources
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- Electra Private Equity Web Site
- Encyclopædia Britannica Online -- Entry for British Printing Corporation/Robert Maxwell
- The New York Times, Technology -- THE EXECUTIVE COMPUTER; A New Crop of Services Takes Root, PETER H. LEWIS, April 9, 1989
- Cumulus Media Web Site, News Releases -- CUMULUS WINS CONNOISSEUR GROUP, 35 Stations in 9 Midwest Markets for $242 Million, November 29, 1999
- Funding Universe -- Cumulus Media Inc.