Kevin O’Leary Net Worth: Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian businessman, author, politician and television personality who has a net worth of $400 million. He is best known for being the founder of the software company SoftKey International and the reality TV shows Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank.
Early Life: Terence Thomas Kevin O’Leary was born on July 9, 1954 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His mother is of Lebanese descent and his father is of Irish descent. Due to his paternal heritage, O’Leary also holds an Irish passport and citizenship.
After his parents divorced and his father died, O’Leary’s mother married Gorge Kanawaty, an economist. Because of his stepfather’s work at the UN International Labor Organization, O’Leary grew up around the world, including in Cambodia, Tunisia and Cyprus. His mother was a seasoned investor and taught him much of her knowledge, including the lesson to always save a third of your money.
On the advice of his stepfather, O’Leary went to college instead of pursuing his original career aspiration of becoming a photographer. At school he further developed his interest in economics and investments. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Waterloo in 1977 and his MBA from the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario in 1980.
Business Career: While pursuing his MBA, O’Leary did an internship at Nabisco and worked as an Assistant Brand Manager for the company’s cat food brand. He credits this experience with helping him develop skills that favored his later success. After leaving Nabisco, O’Leary embarked on a brief career as a television producer, founding the independent television production company Special Event Television (SET) with two former MBA colleagues. O’Leary’s stake in the company was eventually bought out by one of his partners for $25,000.
After selling his stake in SET, O’Leary founded the software company SoftKey in a Toronto basement in 1986 with business partners John Freeman and Gary Babcock. After a major financier pulled out of his $250,000 commitment, O’Leary used his $25,000 SET interest and a $10,000 investment loan from his mother to start the company, which produces CD-ROM-based software for Windows – and Macintosh computers published and distributed.
The company developed a number of educational software products and became a major consolidator in the educational software market in 1993 by acquiring competitors such as WordStar and Spinnaker Software. After acquiring The Learning Company (TLC) in 1995 for $606 million, Softkey adopted the TLC name. In 1999, Mattel acquired TLC for $4.2 billion. After a decline in Mattel’s sales and profits, O’Leary left the company. Mattel executives and O’Leary have been sued by Mattel shareholders for misleading investors about the state of TLC, but O’Leary denied all allegations and blamed the acquisition’s failure on the technology meltdown and cultural clash in the management of the two Company.
In 2003, O’Leary became a co-investor and director of Storage Now. This is a developer of air-conditioned storage facilities. After a series of development projects and acquisitions, Storage Now has become the third largest owner/operator of storage services in Canada. Storage Now had facilities in 11 cities and served major companies such as Merck and Pfizer. The company was acquired in March 2007 for $110 million.
Media and other ventures:In September 2011, O’Leary published his first book, Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life. He published two follow-up books in 2012 and 2013. O’Leary made his television debut in 2006 as one of five venture capitalists on the CBC show Dragons’ Den. He developed an on-screen personality as an outspoken, bullying investor, which was encouraged by the show’s producers. O’Leary was invited to 2009’s “Share Tank,” the American version of “Dragons’ Den.” He stayed on both shows until leaving Dragons’ Den in 2014. His appearances on the two shows earned him the nickname “Mr. Wonderful,” a tongue-in-cheek nod to his reputation for being mean, but also that his candid feedback for misguided entrepreneurs who appear on the show is helpful. He has a holding company, Something Wonderful, that manages his investments in the show. His notable deals from Shark Tank include investments in Talbott Teas (later acquired by Jamba Juice) and GrooveBook (later acquired by Shutterfly).
O’Leary’s other television and media activities include co-hosting Discovery Channel’s “Discovery Project Earth” in 2008, a segment on CBC News Network with journalist Amanda Lang, “The Lang and O’Leary Exchange”, in 2009 and producing and hosting his own reality show in 2012, Redemption Inc., in which he attempted to help ex-convicts start their own businesses.
Politics:On January 18, 2017, after months of public speculation, O’Leary officially entered the Conservative leadership race. During his election campaign, the press often compared him to US President Donald Trump: both were wealthy businessmen who gained greater notoriety through reality television and ran on platforms calling for tax and regulation cuts. O’Leary dismissed those comparisons, noting in particular that he differed from Trump on the issue of immigration. He himself is descended from Irish and Lebanese immigrants and “would not exist if Canada had walls”. On April 26, 2017, he officially retired from the party leadership race, stating that while he believed
Political Life: O’Leary has been married to his wife Linda since 1990, with a brief two-year separation in 2011. She is the Vice President of Marketing at O’Leary Wines. The couple have two children.
His primary residence is in Toronto, but he also owns a cottage in Muskoka, Ontario and properties in Boston and Geneva, Switzerland.
|Jul 9, 1954 (67 years old)
|Entrepreneur, venture capitalist, actor