Leonsis in 2013
|Born||Theodore John Leonsis
January 8, 1957
Brooklyn, New York
|Alma mater||Georgetown University|
|Organization||Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, Washington Mystics, Verizon Center, SnagFilms, Revolution Money, Groupon|
|Net worth||$1.0 billion (2015)|
Theodore John Leonsis (born January 8, 1957) is a Greek American sports team owner, venture capital investor, filmmaker, author, and philanthropist. He is a former senior executive with America Online (AOL). As the founder, chairman, and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, he is the majority owner of the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, the National Basketball Association's Washington Wizards, the Women's National Basketball Association's Washington Mystics and the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. He is a founding member and investor in the Revolution Growth Fund, which includes investments in FedBid, Resonate Insights, Optoro and CustomInk. He is the founder and chairman of SnagFilms, which produced the documentary film Nanking. The film was honored with the 2009 News & Documentary Emmy Award. In 2010, he wrote the book, The Business of Happiness.
Theodore John Leonsis was born on January 8, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York. He is the son of Greek American parents, who worked as a waiter and a secretary. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School, before moving to Lowell, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Lowell High School in 1973. In 2005, he was honored as one of Lowell High School's Distinguished Alumni for reaching the highest level of accomplishment and possessing the highest standards of integrity and character. After graduating from Georgetown University in 1977, he moved back to his parents' home in Lowell and began working for Wang Laboratories.
In early 2011, Leonsis purchased a 13-acre estate in Potomac, Maryland. He acquired the property for $20 million after selling homes in McLean, Virginia and Vero Beach, Florida. The 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) estate was once the home of Joseph P. Kennedy, summer home of Franklin Roosevelt, and was owned by the Gore family from 1942 to 1995. Leonsis purchased the home from Chris Rogers, a telecommunications executive who acquired Leonsis' home in McLean.
In 1987, Leonsis established the marketing communications company, Redgate Communications Corporation. When the organization was acquired by America Online (AOL) in 1994, Leonsis began working with AOL as a senior executive, remaining with the company for 13 years. Under his leadership, AOL increased its membership from under 800,000 members to over 8 million, while their annual revenue increased from $100 million to $1.5 billion. He held numerous positions at AOL during his years there, completing his tenure and retiring in 2006 as the audience group's president and vice-chairman. As of 2014[update], he serves as vice chairman emeritus of AOL.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment
Leonsis is the founder, majority owner, chairman and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the NBA's Washington Wizards, NHL's Washington Capitals and the WNBA's Washington Mystics. Monumental Sports additionally owns the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. and manages the Kettler Capitals Iceplex and George Mason University's EagleBank Arena. Formed in 2010 by a merger between Leonsis' Lincoln Holdings with Washington Sports & Entertainment, Monumental Sports & Entertainment is the only privately held company in a top-10 market to own and operate three professional sports teams and its arena. In January 2013 Monumental Sports & Entertainment launched Monumental Network, a digital platform that serves as a hub for Washington's sports and entertainment news.
Leonsis has a "hands on" approach to management of his sports teams. After purchasing the Wizards, Leonsis criticized the NBA's salary cap at a luncheon with business leaders. He was fined $100,000 by the league, for "unauthorized public comments regarding the league's collective bargaining negotiations." Leonsis has sought to roll-back changes to the Wizards and Capitals franchises that coincided with the opening of the Verizon Center in 1997. In 2007, he changed the Capitals team logo and its colors back to their original red, white, and blue, and in May 2011, received positive responses from media, fans, players and alumni when the Wizards unveiled a similar red, white and blue color scheme, along with uniforms reminiscent of those worn by the team under their former name, the Bullets, when they won the NBA Championship in 1978. Additionally, he had taken under consideration restoring the Bullets name to the franchise, though critics said that this would "send the wrong message" about gun violence in Washington.
- Washington Capitals
Leonsis has owned the Washington Capitals since the spring of 1999, and in that timeframe the team has won seven Southeast Division titles, a Presidents’ Trophy and has recorded more than 200 consecutive sellouts at Verizon Center.
In the early years of his ownership, the Capitals went on to win back-to-back Southeast Division titles in 2000 and 2001, but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins. In summer 2001, the Capitals traded for Jaromír Jágr and signed him to what was at the time, the largest contract in NHL history. The trade was enthusiastically well received by fans and over 300 people showed up at Dulles International Airport to greet Jágr when he arrived. After Jágr was traded in 2004, Leonsis was criticized by fans. He was involved in a physical altercation with a fan, who led a mocking chant of Leonsis during the game and hoisted a sign chiding him. In the altercation, Leonsis grabbed and threw the fan to the ground, which also caused a young child to fall to the ground. For his involvement in the scuffle, Leonsis was fined $100,000. He also received a suspension of one week, during which he was prohibited from having any contact with the team. After the incident, Leonsis personally called the fan to apologize for his actions and invited him and his family to watch a game in the owner’s box.
In 2009, a season ticket holder informed Leonsis of a homeless man, Scott Lovell, who spent his nights sleeping outside Verizon Center. Leonsis found Lovell a part-time job as a restaurant kitchen worker and provided him with a paid and furnished apartment, a prosthetic leg and Capitals season tickets for life. In return, Lovell vowed to remain clean and sober.
In 2010, journalist Damien Cox, author of the Ovechkin Project, a biography of Alexander Ovechkin, wrote that Leonsis was trying to circumvent the NHL's salary cap when signing Ovechkin's contract. He also alleged that Leonsis was bribing bloggers for positive coverage of the Capitals. Leonsis said that Cox was angry that he did not receive the access to Ovechkin that he wanted and defended his support for the league.
During the 2009–2010 season, the Capitals earned the NHL's President's Trophy as the team that finished with the most points in the league during the regular season.
The 2010–2011 season marked the highest attendance in franchise history, drawing 754,309 fans. The Capitals, like other teams, have raised ticket prices in recent years. In 2011, after raising ticket prices for the fourth consecutive year while shrinking the size of beers sold at the Verizon Center, he earned the nickname "Leon$i$". In 2001, Leonsis claimed to have written a computer program that prevented Pittsburgh Penguins fans (the Capitals first-round opponent) from purchasing tickets online. When asked if the actions were unfair, Leonsis stated, "I don't care. I'm going to keep doing it." Again in 2009, he received criticism for preventing visiting team fans from purchasing Capitals playoff tickets.
In the face of community opposition, Leonsis has persisted with a plan to expand the billboards around the Verizon Center. Critics said the signage would make the arena more garish and cheapen DC's Chinatown, Leonsis said it was necessary to raise an additional $20 to 30 million in annual revenue, and a sports expert explained that "an owner saddled with underperforming teams is under greater pressure to find income sources." Leonsis persevered and in March 2013 construction of the new signs were announced.
In 2013, Leonsis received a letter about Jack Dibler, a lifelong Capitals fan who had recently been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. In response, Leonsis sent Dibler a package that included a signed Alexander Ovechkin jersey and a letter inviting Dibler and his family to a game.
- Washington Wizards
Leonsis became the majority owner of the Washington Wizards in June 2010, inheriting a team that had 26 wins and 56 losses during the previous season. Leonsis has taken a fan-centric approach to running the franchise, by listening and responding to the concerns of Wizards supporters through his email and personal website. On May 10, 2011, the Wizards unveiled a new color scheme, uniforms and logo. The team reverted to its traditional red, white and blue colors. The uniforms are based very closely on those worn from 1974 to 1987, during the team's glory years. During Leonsis’ tenure as owner, the Wizards have compiled a promising young nucleus of players, including John Wall (No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft), Bradley Beal (No. 3 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft) and Otto Porter Jr. (No. 3 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft). They have also acquired veterans like Nenê and Marcin Gortat via trade.
Leonsis is the founder, chairman and largest shareholder of SnagFilms, a content and technology company with a full-service video streaming platform, professional video and journalism content assets and established relationships with the creative community. SnagFilms has more than 5,000 films in its digital library and is available online and on its proprietary applications on every mobile and connected device.
His first production was the documentary Nanking, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film is based on the book The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. It was honored with the 2008 Peabody Award and the 2009 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Best Historical Programming (Long Form).
In 2008, Leonsis produced Kicking It, which is a documentary by Susan Koch about the 2006 Homeless World Cup. The film was narrated by actor Colin Farrell and featured residents of Afghanistan; Kenya; Dublin, Ireland; Charlotte, North Carolina; Madrid; and Saint Petersburg. The film premiered in January 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival.
A third documentary, A Fighting Chance, tells the story of Kyle Maynard, who became a nationally ranked wrestler, motivational speaker, and bestselling author, despite being born without arms or legs.
In 2013, Leonsis produced the documentary Lost for Life, which explores juvenile offenders who have been sentenced to life without parole.
Venture capital endeavors
Leonsis is a cofounder and partner in Revolution Growth Fund II, which currently has made investments in eight companies: Bigcommerce, CustomInk, Echo360, FedBid, Lolly Wolly Doodle, Optoro, Resonate, sweetgreen, Revolution Foods and Handybook. In a 25-year period he has personally made investments and owned equity in numerous companies, including Groupon, Google, AOL, Revolution Money, AddThis, Preview Travel (Travelocity), GridPoint, Inside.com (formerly Mahalo), MobilePosse, ObjectVideo, SB Nation, Zedge, Triporati, Personal, I-Village, Proxicom, ePals, SnagFilms, MediaBank, Two Harbors, Videology, Algentis, Social Radar and Forbes’ travel guide.
As vice chairman of Washington 2024, Leonsis assumes a leading role in guiding the region's bid for Summer 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In June 2014 the United States Olympic Committee identified Washington and three other cities as potential locations.
Leonsis is the founder of the Leonsis Foundation, which supports children "overcome obstacles and achieve their goals". Through the Leonsis Foundation, his sports teams and the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, SnagFilms and his family’s personal giving, more than 400 charities were served and supported during the last 12 months. These charities and causes include Best Buddies, DC Central Kitchen, See Forever Foundation, Venture Philanthropy Partners, Street Soccer USA, YouthAIDS, GlobalGiving.org, DC-CAP, D.C. College Success Foundation, Potomac School, Georgetown University, Children’s Hospital, Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association, Salvation Army Angle Tree, Alliance for Lupus Research, Serve DC, Fort Dupont Ice Arena and Ice Hockey Club, USO of Metropolitan Washington, Capital Area Food Bank, Flashes of Hope, Inova Health System Foundation, UNICEF, obesity prevention and numerous local schools, cancer research and awareness programs.
- SnagFilms – Founding chairman[timeframe?]
- Groupon – Chairman of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
- AddThis – Former chairman and member of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
- American Express – Member of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
- Georgetown University – Member of the Board of Directors (2008–2009)
- FedBid – Member of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
- Resonate – Member of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
- Optoro – Member of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
- DC-CAP (District of Columbia College Access Program) – Member of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
- College Success Foundation (CSF), District of Columbia – Member of the Board of Directors[timeframe?]
Honors and awards
- 2001: Businessperson of the Year – Washington Business Journal and
- 2001: Washingtonian of the Year – Washingtonian Magazine
- 2009: Washington's Tech Titans – Washingtonian Magazine
- 2010: Washington Business Hall of Fame – Junior Achievement of Greater Washington
- 2010: John Carroll Award – Georgetown University
- 2013: Virginia's 50 most influential people – Virginia Business magazine
- 2013: No. 1 Sports PowerPlayer in Maryland
- Leonsis, Ted (1984). Software Master for the IBM PC (128k), Warner Software, 323 pages. ISBN 978-0446381253
- Leonsis, Ted (1984). Software Master for Pes: Apple Version (48k), Warner Software. ISBN 978-0446381772
- Chposky, James; and Ted Leonsis (1988). Blue Magic: The People, Power and Politics Behind the IBM Personal Computer, Facts on File Publications, 228 pages. ISBN 978-0816013913
- Leonsis, Ted (2010). The Business of Happiness: 6 Secrets to Extraordinary Success in Work and Life, Regnery Publishing, 256 pages. ISBN 978-1596981140
- "Surreal Estate: Ted Leonsis buys lavish Potomac estate". Washingtonpost.com. 2011-01-04. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Shapiro, Margaret (March 2, 2010). "Ted Leonsis of Washington Capitals suggests making goals to ensure a happy life". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
- [dead link]
- "Ted Leonsis". Revolution. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Heath, Thomas (2013-07-15). "On I.T". The Washington Post.
- "Ted Leonsis » Monumental Sports & Entertainment". Monumentalsports.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Kent Bernhard, Jr. (February 22, 2012). "AOL Founders Invest in Campaign-Focused Data Startup". Upstart Business Journal.
- "What You Can Learn from Ted Leonsis' Life List - Executive Coach - Management - GovExec.com". Blogs.govexec.com. 2012-08-22. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Ted Leonsis Oral History" (PDF). Computer World Honors Program. November 8, 2001. Retrieved May 18, 2011.
- "Marwood Estate Gets New Owner in Luxury "House Swap" | REsource". Mrisblog.com. 2011-01-09. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Kevin Baumer Jan. 8, 2011, 12:14 PM 108,962 7 (2011-01-08). "HOUSE OF THE DAY: Sports Mogul Ted Leonsis Buys A $8 Million Historic Mansion". Business Insider. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Washington Life Magazine: February 2006: Real Estate News". Washingtonlife.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Real Estate News About Don Imus, Ted Leonsis and Barbara Picower | Private Properties - WSJ.com". Online.wsj.com. 2011-01-07. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Garage 2 Gorilla". Netpreneur Exchange. June 8, 1999.
- Swisher, Kara (1998). aol.com: How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads, and Made Millions in the War for the Web, Crown Business, 333 pages. ISBN 978-0812928969
- Zillgitt, Jeff (January 19, 2000). "Dot-coms click into world of pro sports". USA Today.
- "Leonsis Pulls Away From Helm of AOL". The Washington Post. September 15, 2006.
- "Ted Leonsis-Led Group Completes Acquisition of Washington Wizards - Washington Capitals - News". Capitals.nhl.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Monumental Ownership - Washington Capitals - Team". Capitals.nhl.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Heath, Thomas (2010-04-28). "Ted Leonsis reaches deal to buy Washington Wizards from Pollin family". The Washington Post (in en-US). ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
- El-Bashir, Tarik; Heath, Thomas (2010-06-11). "Ted Leonsis takes control of the Washington Wizards". The Washington Post (in en-US). ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2015-11-05.
- "About Me: Ted Leonsis". Monumental Network. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- "Monumental to launch digital net". Sports Business Journal. January 21, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- "Ted Leonsis takes hands-on approach with Washington Wizards - Washington Business Journal". Bizjournals.com. 2010-12-17. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- [dead link]
- Hamilton, Tracee (May 10, 2011). "Wizards Unveil New Uniforms". The Washington Post.
- Lee, Michael. "Wizards Insider - Ted Leonsis says name change to Bullets is 'under consideration'". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "From the Wizards back to the Bullets? A bad call". Washingtonpost.com. 2010-10-09. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Jagr Arrives With a Message; Of Stanley Cup Win, New Capital Says, 'Hopefully We're Going to Do It'". Washington Post. July 17, 2001. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- "NHL to examine incident". Washington Times. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Leonsis involved in incident with fine". ESPN. January 29, 2004.
- La Canfora, Jason (January 27, 2004). "Capital Owner, Fan Fight After Defeat". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- "Scott Lovell goes from homeless to sober, clean and Caps fan". ABC 7 News. April 27, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- Monday, January 20, 2014 1:49 AM EST Facebook Twitter RSS (2010-09-03). "Cox: Outlaw owners get their way in Kovalchuk deal | Toronto Star". Thestar.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Damian Cox Continues To Stir The Pot With Ted Leonsis - SB Nation DC". Dc.sbnation.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Steinberg, Dan. "D.C. Sports Bog - The Ovechkin Project, Gare Joyce and Ted Leonsis". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Caps Claim First Presidents' Trophy". The Washington Post. April 4, 2010.
- "2013-2014 NHL Attendance - National Hockey League - ESPN". Espn.go.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Steinberg, Dan. "D.C. Sports Bog - Capitals raise ticket prices again". Voices.washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- McKenna, Dave (2010-02-19). "Cheap Seats Daily: Who Says Ted Leonsis = Dan Snyder? - City Desk". Washingtoncitypaper.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Leonsis, Ted Is Washington turning on its good-guy megamogul?". Washington City Paper. 2001. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Leonsis Prevents Penguins Fans From Buying Tix For DC Games". Sports Business Daily. April 17, 2001. Retrieved January 29, 2010.
- Molinari, Dave (May 2, 2009). "Penguins Notebook: Getting tickets tough call now". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved May 3, 2009.
- "Leonsis: Billboards could help Wizards, Caps". Washington Examiner. June 20, 2012.
- "Blasted By Opposition to Lighted Signs on Verizon Center, Ted Leonsis Asks For More Time". Washington City Paper. January 19, 2012.
- Heath, Thomas (March 6, 2014). "Verizon Center facade to get new digital, billboard-size signs after city’s approval". Washington Post.
- "Leonsis' plan to light up arena would cheapen Chinatown". Washington Examiner. January 12, 2012.
- "Caps fan diagnosed with cancer gets special gift from Ted Leonsis". ABC 7 News. February 13, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Access Pollywood: Head Wizard Ted Leonsis Casts a Spell". Washington Life Magazine. June 24, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Leonsis completes purchase of Wizards". Washington Times. June 10, 2010. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- Lee, Michael (May 10, 2011). "Washington Wizards’ new uniforms and logo became a reality more quickly than for most NBA teams". Washington Post. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Wizards acquire Nuggets' Nene". ESPN. March 16, 2012. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- Amick, Sam (October 25, 2013). "Wizards land Marcin Gortat in trade with Suns". USA Today. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- [dead link]
- 68th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2009.
- Calderone, Michael (2009-04-01). "Peabody winners: CNN, Ifill, Engel". Politico.Com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "A Fighting Chance". Fightingchancemovie.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "About Me: Ted Leonsis". Monumental Network. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Leonsis Foundation". Leonsis Foundation. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "About SnagFilms". Snagfilms.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Groupon, Inc. - Board of Directors". Groupon.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Leonsis tapped to lead Groupon after shake-up". The Washington Post. 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Meet Our President - Georgetown University". President.georgetown.edu. 2013-09-18. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- [dead link]
- "Past Washingtonians of the Year | People & Politics". Washingtonian. 2008-01-29. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Washington's Tech Titans | People & Politics". Washingtonian. 2009-05-01. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "Theodore "Ted" J. Leonsis". Junior Achievement of Greater Washington. November 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
- "John Carroll Award Recipients". Georgetown Alumni Online. Retrieved February 6, 2014.
- "50 Most Influential Virginians · Industries". Virginia Business. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- "The Top 13 Sports Power Players In Maryland". Pressboxonline.com. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
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