Thomas G. Stemberg

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Thomas G. Stemberg
Tom Stemberg Staples.jpeg
Thomas Stemberg at one of the first Staples stores
Thomas George Stemberg

(1949-01-18)January 18, 1949
DiedOctober 23, 2015(2015-10-23) (aged 66)
Alma materHarvard University
Harvard Business School
OccupationManaging General Partner at Highland Capital Partners
Known forFounder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Staples Inc.[1]
Spouse(s)Maureen Sullivan (divorced)
Dola Hamilton Stemberg (divorced)
Katherine Chapman O’Gara

Thomas George Stemberg (January 18, 1949 – October 23, 2015) was an American businessman, investor, and philanthropist. He was a pioneer of the office supplies superstore industry, most notably for founding office supply retail chain Staples Inc. with Leo Kahn.[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Stemberg was born on January 18, 1949 in Orange, New Jersey,[5] the son of immigrants from Vienna, Austria, Erika (née Ratzer) and Oscar Michael Stemberg.[5][6][7][8] His father was a lawyer who became a restaurateur.[9][10] His father was Jewish and his mother was Catholic.[11][12]

At Harvard College, he headed on managerial roles at Harvard Student Agencies, a hands-on organization of campus businesses, and the Harvard Independent, a newly established student newspaper.[10] In 1973, Stemberg graduated from the Harvard Business School receiving his M.B.A. as a George F. Baker Scholar.[4]


He started his career with the Jewel Company's Star Markets where he became the vice president for the company's sales and merchandising division.[13]

In 1986, Stemberg started Staples with backing from private equity firms, including Hambro International Ventures, Harvard Management, Bessemer Ventures, Adler & Company, and Bain Capital;[14] Bain co-founder Mitt Romney served on the company's board of directors for the next 15 years.[15] By 1999, Staples had worldwide sales of over US$7 billion, with more than one thousand superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce outlets, and a contract business.[14]

In 2005, Stemberg joined Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm, in Lexington, Massachusetts as managing general partner.[16]

Stemberg has an estimated net worth of $202 million, he was a philanthropist who donated funds in areas pertaining to education.[17]

Stemberg speaking at the 2012 RNC

Stemberg, a political supporter of Mitt Romney since Romney ran for the U.S. Senate in 1994, spoke on Romney's behalf at the 2012 Republican National Convention.[15] Stemberg encouraged Romney to make healthcare more accessible, which led Romney to reform healthcare in the commonwealth.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 2012, Stemberg was involved in a legal dispute with his first wife, Maureen Sullivan.[19][20]

Stemberg died on October 23, 2015 from gastric cancer. He was 66 years old.[21][22]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Martin, Douglas (May 12, 2011). "Leo Kahn, Trailblazer in Big-Box Retailing, Dies at 94". New York Times. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  3. ^ Shapiro, T. Rees (May 14, 2011). "Leo Kahn, entrepreneur who helped found Staples office-supply business, dies at 94". Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 19, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Stamberg, Thomas". Highbeam Research. Archived from the original on April 9, 2016. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  5. ^ a b The Guru Guide to Entrepreneurship: A Concise Guide to the Best Ideas from ... - Joseph H. Boyett, Jimmie T. Boyett – Google Books-
  6. ^ " is available at". is available at
  7. ^ Stemberg, Thomas G. (January 11, 2004). "EXECUTIVE LIFE: THE BOSS; An Austrian Advantage". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Who, Marquis Who's (1999). Who's who in Finance and Industry. ISBN 978-0-8379-0334-7.
  9. ^ "Stemberg, Thomas – Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Thomas Stemberg, Social and Economic Impact". Archived from the original on February 16, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Alumni Achievement Awards 2000: Thomas G. Stemberg". HBS Working Knowledge.
  11. ^ Roberts, Sam (October 23, 2015). "Thomas G. Stemberg, Who Joined a Rival to Found Staples, Dies at 66". The New York Times.
  12. ^ "Tom Stemberg". FamousWhy. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  13. ^ G. Stemberg Austria&f=false
  14. ^ a b Boyett, Joseph H.; Boyett, Jimmie T. (March 14, 2002). The Guru Guide to Entrepreneurship. ISBN 978-0-471-43686-7. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  15. ^ a b Goodison, Donna (August 30, 2012). "Thomas Stemberg preps for Stem-winder praising Mitt Romney". Boston Herald. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  16. ^ Founder and Former CEO of Staples Joins Highland Capital Partners from
  17. ^ "Net Worth: Founding CEO of Staples Tom Stemberg". The Squander. December 22, 2017. Retrieved April 2, 2020.
  18. ^ Luna, Taryn (October 23, 2015). "Staples founder Thomas Stemberg dies at 66". Boston Globe. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  19. ^ [1] from
  20. ^ "Ace of Spades HQ". Archived from the original on October 26, 2015. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  21. ^ "Staples founder Tom Stemberg dies". Fortune. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  22. ^ "Staples founder Thomas Stemberg dies at 66". Archived from the original on February 16, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2015.