Welcome to The National Herald’s Annual 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America Special Insert!
2020 is the second year that I am spearheading this incredible project. Although most of our top ten have been at the top of rankings such as Forbes magazine for many years, their incredible stories and biographies still strike me year after year. They instill in me a real sense of pride and relatedness – even though I have not had the opportunity to meet most of these high-net individuals first hand. I like to believe that this is because their stories are relatable – they are familiar to me. Growing up with immigrant parents, like most of our readers, I have heard and read countless stories about their hardships and year after year I can’t help but feel a renewed admiration for our people, our culture, our perseverance, and our work ethic. Many of our featured Greek-Americans came here with nothing in their pockets and had no other choice but to work incredibly hard to just put food on their table every night. Eventually, they caught their big break (again, with that unwavering work ethic and a little bit of luck) – and what is truly noteworthy is that most of these individuals managed to instill the same principles and ideals in their children (even if they were not able to be home too often).
America’s genius has always been its ability to attract the world’s brightest minds and hardest working people and have them live alongside each other to advance the common good – while at the same time maintaining and advancing our history, culture and religion. Our list proves that Greeks have been contributing mightily to the American success story for as long as they have been coming to these shores in the hopes of a better life for themselves and for their families. This courage is the indispensable kindling needed for the American patented entrepreneurial approach to work that creates jobs and fortunes.
Many studies have been conducted in an effort to understand why human brains love lists. In an article written just a few years ago, the New Yorker stated that whenever we encounter new information, our brains immediately try to make sense of it. Once they figure out what we’re seeing in a physical sense, they provide personal context and decide if it’s relevant enough to focus on further. The process is instantaneous – we don’t even realize we’ve made a choice in the time our minds have selected one path or another. Our gaze either stops, or we simply keep scanning. Recall a time when you were spacing out while skimming a stream of content and then, without quite knowing why, found yourself pausing to actually process the information. This is likely because we saw a phrase, a word, a location that we identify with.
It’s the same with our list. Once we see the name of the island we have roots in, or see the name of our church, or even see a job title or passion that we share with a particular individual, we automatically start paying closer attention. However, I encourage you to actually spend the time to read each and every one of the biographies of our featured individuals. Although many of the same individuals are featured year after year, their biographies are updated as more information becomes available. Not only that, the saying that ‘old habits die hard’ is truly representative of our culture. Despite the age of many of the people on our list, they have not slowed down – with many in their 80s and 90s still going to the office at least five days a week. Thus, while the numbers may be the most ‘fun’ part to skim over and the easiest way to list these individuals, it is by far the least valuable. Contrastingly, what is valuable is each person’s unique story – their struggles, their triumphs, their journey. They cover an impressively wide spectrum of industries: energy, retail, finance, shipping, food service, engineering, publishing, entertainment – just to name a few. I encourage everyone to take the time this weekend to actually read the biographies of these individuals – you may be surprised at how much we all have in common and you may get some ideas on what the next steps of your career should be.
Although countless hours were spent researching the various individuals featured on our list, we are aware that this list is not all encompassing (some individuals do not like to be in the public eye) and that the net worth of the individuals are approximations (i.e., the stock market’s daily fluctuations may cause some people’s net worth to change minute by minute). This is a ‘problem’ that is not unique to The National Herald but also to Forbes, for example, which is widely regarded as the ‘gold standard’ of such rankings.
We invite you, once again, to enhance this list by letting us know of any information – including, perhaps, a particular Greek-American we may have overlooked, so that this Special Edition can continue to get better and better, year after year.
By Vanessa Diamataris
TNH’s 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America List 2020: Numbers 50-41:
50. NICK MARKAKIS
$40 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Young Harris College; Married, 3 children
Nicholas William Markakis, 36, or more commonly known as Nick Markakis, with a net worth of approximately $40 million is a newcomer to TNH’S 50 Wealthiest Greeks in America List.
The Glen Cove, New York native is the starting right fielder for the Atlanta Braves. Markakis and family moved to Woodstock, Georgia from Glen Cove when Nick was still just a boy. It’s at Woodstock that he developed his passion for baseball and was drafted out of high school in 2001 by the Cincinnati Reds and again in 2002 but Markakis declined both advances and opted to attend Young Harris College.
Following his collegiate career, in 2003, Markakis represented Greece in the European National Championships where the Greek national baseball team won the silver medal. He impressed enough in the games that the Baltimore Orioles selected Markakis with the 7th overall pick in the 2003 MLB Draft, originally more as a pitching prospect, but wisely subsequently focused more on his hitting.
Following the draft, Markakis represented Greece again, this time at the Athens 2004 Olympics. Nick Markakis was drafted as a first rounder in 2003 by the Baltimore Orioles and would be promoted to the major leagues from the minor leagues in 2006. His Orioles tenure ended in 2014 and following the 2014 season, Markakis returned to Georgia as an Atlanta Brave and he remains there to this day.
Nick Markakis is an all-star (2018), Silver Slugger Award Winner (2018), and a 3-time Gold Glove Award Winner (2011, 2014, 2018).
49. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
$44 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Columbia University (Political Science); Married, 2 children
George Stephanopoulos was born to first-generation Greek-American parents, Nickolitsa and Robert George, in Massachusetts and grew up in Cleveland, OH. He attended Columbia University and in 1983 won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, where he received a master’s degree in theology. Stephanopoulos’ father is a Greek-Orthodox priest and dean emeritus of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City. His mother was the director of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America National News Service for many years. Stephanopoulos reportedly long considered entering priesthood but ended up in politics and media.
After beginning his career in Washington, D.C. he worked on the unsuccessful presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis in 1988 and then served as an aide to an Ohio Congressman. Stephanopoulos later helped with Bill Clinton’s 1991 presidential campaign, becoming the Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy post-election. In 1999, he published his memoir which became a New York Times best-selling book, All Too Human: A Political Education, an account of the 1992 and 1996 Clinton campaigns and of Clinton’s first term in office.
Stephanopoulos joined ABC News in 1997 as an analyst for This Week. Today, he serves as ABC’s News’ Chief anchor as well as an anchor of Good Morning America and This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
For more than a decade, his range and expertise have played a pivotal role at the network – garnering him three Emmys, a DuPont, three Murrows, and two Cronkite Awards.
Stephanopoulos married Alexandra Wentworth, an actress, comedian, and writer in 2001 at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. The couple has two daughters: Elliott Anastasia and Harper Andrea.
48. CRISS ANGEL – New York
$50 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Married; 2 Children
Christopher Nicholas Sarantakos was born on December 19, 1967 in the Town of North Hempstead, New York, to Dimitra and John Sarantakos. His father owned and ran a successful restaurant and doughnut shop.
Angel became interested in magic around the age of seven after his aunt Stella showed him a card trick. After graduating from high school, Angel opted not to go to college. Instead, he chose to follow the path of being a professional magician. He educated himself by going to public libraries frequently where he studied magic, music, mysticism, and even martial arts.
He practiced his trade in relative obscurity until he caught a big break in 1994 – appearing in a major prime time television special titled Secrets. Eventually, his popularity grew so much he ventured to the A&E Network to launch a reality show. Criss Angel: Mindfreak debuted on the A&E Network in 2005 and stayed on the air until 2011.
The shows were shot in Las Vegas and featured Angel performing a number of mesmerizing illusions. The illusions often gave off a sense of danger and this contributed to the popularity of the program. His live performance illusion show titled Criss Angel Believe at Luxor Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas generated $150 million dollars in tourist revenue for the city in 2010. In 2018 he was ranked number three on Forbes’ list of the world’s highest paid magicians.
Angel and his brothers J.D. and Costa founded the BELIEVE Charitable Foundation in 2007 in the loving memory of their father John who passed away in 1998. The foundation works for the benefit of children, especially those suffering from debilitating illnesses and diseases. He also actively supports the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Angel won the International Magician Society’s Magician of the Decade title in 2009 and Magician of the Century title in 2010. He is the only magician to have won the Merlin Magician of the Year twice. He holds the records for longest time submerged underwater (24 hours), the longest body suspension (5 hours, 42 minutes), and the fastest straight-jacket escape (2 minutes, 30 seconds).
Angel has two children, Johnny Crisstopher (2014) and Xristos Yannis (2019). His first born was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia – a form of cancer. After 18 months of chemotherapy, Johnny was in remission. However, just a few months ago, Angel announced that his son’s cancer had tragically returned.
47. GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO – Wisconsin
$60 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Giannis Sina Ougko Antetokounmpo, 24, is a Greek professional basketball player for the NBA team, the Milwaukee Bucks.
A bonafide NBA superstar, and the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player, whose fame has reached most corners of the world, Antetokounmpo was born in Athens, Greece to Nigerian immigrants from Lagos. He grew up in the Sepolia neighborhood in Athens and due to harsh working conditions for immigrants in Greece, Giannis and his brothers helped his parents financially by hawking items on the street. Giannis’ basketball journey began in 2007 as he was introduced to the sport then and within three years was playing on local club Filathlitikos’ youth squad.
In 2011, he was called up to the senior squad of Filathilitikos which competed in the Greek Basket League (Third Division) before the team was promoted to the Greek A2 League (Second Division) for the 2012-2013 season, In 2013, Antetokounmpo declared himself eligible for that year’s NBA draft where he was selected in the first round with the 15th overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. At the conclusion of his rookie season, Giannis was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team. After continuing to impress despite his young age, on September 19, 2016 Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a four-year $100 million contract extension with Milwaukee.
The contract reflected the superstar that Giannis had become and the faith that the Bucks had that he would only get better. In his seven NBA seasons to date, Antetokounmpo has been selected four times as an NBA All-Star (2017-2020), All-NBA First Team (2019), NBA All-Defensive First Team (2019), two times to the All-NBA Second Team (2017,2018), selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team (2017), NBA Most Improved Player (2017), NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2014).
In addition to his exploits at the club level with the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA, Giannis is a proud member of the Greek Men’s National Basketball Team and has represented his country 38 times to date. Giannis is one of four brothers born to Charles and Veronica Antetokounmpo. His father Charles passed away following a heart attack at the age of 54 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Giannis is an active member in the Milwaukee metro-area philanthropic community and has never forgotten his Greek roots. He gives back to Greece whenever possible and is the poster-child of Greek tourism, Aegean Airlines, and recycling initiatives in Greece. It was announced that he will be funding an indoor basketball court near Mati, east of Athens where 100 people lost their lives a year ago so that the community can continue to heal following the losses sustained. Giannis is currently unmarried, though he is in a relationship of two years with former Rice University volleyball standout Mariah Riddlesprigger who on February 10, 2020 gave birth to Antetokounmpo’s son, Liam Charles.
46. TINA FLEY– New York
$70 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
University of Virginia (Drama); Married, 2 children
With a celebrity star continuing to rise with no peak yet in sight, Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, known to the world as Tina, added to her net worth in 2019-20 to finish higher than last year in our top 50.
Fey’s maternal grandmother, Vasiliki Kourelakou, emigrated to the United States by herself in 1921 from the village of Petrina. Although Fey’s father was not Greek, Zenobia (nee Xenakis), her mother, spoke Greek at home with her children and took them to church every Sunday.
Knowing from an early age that she was destined for a career in comedy, the native Pennsylvanian (from the predominantly Greek suburb of Upper Darby), now 49, joined the cast of Saturday Night Live (SNL) more than twenty years ago. After a successful stint on the show’s consistently popular Weekend Update mock news segment, Fey shined even brighter in 2008 with her spot-on impersonation of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. She also became the first female head writer in SNL history.
Fey reprised the role several times during that campaign season (and did so again around the time of the 2012 and 2016 elections). In one bit characterizing Palin’s attestation that she is familiar with world affairs because as Governor of Alaska, she had to deal with fly-over zones of airplanes from neighboring Russia, Fey blurted out in a comically ditzy manner: “I can see Russia from my house.” In a classic example of how comedy bits can influence public thinking, many Americans polled have since then attributed that line to Palin, not realizing it was Fey who had actually said it.
Fey and her SNL sidekick, cohost for numerous award shows, and ‘BFF’, Amy Poehler, starred in the comedy film Sisters in 2015. Poehler joined Fey to cohost SNL in December 2015, reprising her own signature role as Hillary Clinton.
Also a writer and producer, Fey has won nine Emmy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, five Screen Actors Guild Awards, three Producers Guild Awards, and seven Writers Guild of America Awards. In 2010, she was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, becoming the youngest-ever recipient of the award.
Fey created, wrote for, and starred in the multi-award-winning sitcom 30 Rock (it received 112 Emmy nominations in total). Fey also co-created the Netflix comedy series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She has appeared in numerous feature films including Martin & Orloff (2002), Mean Girls (2004), Baby Mama (2008), The Invention of Lying (2009), and Date Night (2010), Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (2016), and most recently, Wine Country (2019). In August 2019, it was announced that Fey would voice the co-lead role in the Pixar fantasy comedy adventure film Soul, which is scheduled to be released in June 2020. Maybe surprisingly, Fey’s highest grossing film was the 2010 animated movie Megamind.
In 2011, she released her memoir, Bossypants, which topped The New York Times Best Seller list for five weeks and garnered her a Grammy Award nomination. Fey also created the musical adaptation Mean Girls, which premiered on Broadway in 2018, and earned her a Tony Award nomination. About a month ago, Fey took the stage at NBCUniversal’s 30 Rock headquarters to announce that she is executive producing one of the first original series for NBCU’s upcoming streaming platform, Peacock. Girls5Eva is a comedy about a one-hit-wonder girl group from the ’90s that reunites to give their pop star dreams one more shot.
Fey takes on many causes, including having done benefits and fundraisers for various charities including Autism Speaks and Mercy Corps, a global relief and development organization trying to end world hunger. She is also vocal about gender roles in America, having told Town & Country magazine in 2016 that, when hearing that this must be a great time for women in comedy, she responds: “No, it’s a terrible time. If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.”
In 1994 Fey began dating Jeff Richmond, a pianist who later became a composer on 30 Rock. They married in a Greek Orthodox ceremony on June 3, 2001. They have two daughters, Alice, born September 2005, and Penelope Athena, August 2011.
45. JAMES T. DEMETRIADES – California
Loyola Marymount University (Computer Science, Economics and Business Marketing; Married, 6 children
James (‘Jim’) Demetriades, 57, was last on our list in 2011. Raised in a family of scientists, Demetriadis began playing with computers at the age of nine at the California Institute of Technology, where his father would drop him off at the computer labs while he was visiting friends. A child prodigy, he began his scientific career at Caltech when he was just 11 years old, and is a 1980 graduate of the Webb School (which now has a James T. Demetriades ’80 Endowed Prize for Unbounded Teaching). After graduating from Webb, he attended Loyola Marymount University where he took a computer programming course which changed his life. There, under Professor Phil Dorin, he became passionate about computers and would frequently sneak into the locked computer labs late at night to play and work on the computers there. He knew that computers would one day change the world.
After graduating from Loyola Marymount, Demetriades worked for two companies designing software for insurance companies and hospitals. When he noticed that work being repeated up to 70 percent of the time, he created a product which would reduce the cost and time necessary to integrate applications. “I took the idea to my boss, and he said he didn’t want to focus on that aspect of the job, so I said, ‘Do you mind if I quit and work on this?’” In less than a decade, Demetriades found himself at the helm of a multi-million dollar, publicly-traded company.
At the age of 26 he started his own software company, SeeBeyond, that invented and patented numerous technologies in the software industry, including composite, client server based integration technology, distributed integration technologies, and cloud based integration and development products. These integration products were ranked number one in the world by the Gartner Group. Demetriades grew SeeBeyond, which he started with 5,000 dollars, into the world’s largest organically grown and self-funded integration software company with products used in dozens of companies around the world, including GM, Porsche, BMW, Pepsi, NY Columbia Presbyterian, JPMorgan Chase, Unilever, Air Liquide, the British NHS, Aetna, the Cleveland Clinic, and about another 10,000 customers. Demetriades ended up taking the company public and then successfully sold it to Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle) for $387M cash in June of 2005.
Demetriades also founded and manages his own groundbreaking venture capital investment company, Kairos, real estate development and management company, Multiversal, and his own unique children’s internet education media company, that he created called Inspero.net. Through Kairos Ventures Demetriades hopes to turn more scientific breakthroughs into successful businesses, raising $50 million for research at Caltech in 2015. Demetriades also serves on boards of numerous technology companies in a variety of industries. He has devoted the last few years to raising (and homeschooling) his six children, with his wife Nancy. He has invested in a hotel (The Landing), and a bar and two restaurants on six acres in Mammoth Lakes, California. An avid yachtsman, he has won both California’s Big Boat Series and Long Beach Race week.
44. JASON CALACANIS
$100 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
INTERNET ENTREPRENEURSHIP, BLOGGING
Fordham University (Psychology); Married, 3 children
Jason McCabe Calacanis, 49, is an American entrepreneur, noted angel investor, and author who hails from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Calacanis started his professional career in earnest in the 1990s, as one of a handful of people who went “all-in” on the internet from its outset. He created a highly successful monthly magazine called Silicon Alley Reporter to keep readers up to date on the happenings in the newly created mass-tech sector of the economy during the dot-com era.
Learning from the fickle nature of the internet, Calcanis didn’t waver in his pursuit of total immersion into the newly created web-based world and co-founded Weblogs, Inc. in September 2003 along with Brian Alvey. Weblogs, Inc. was a blog networked platform that featured entries of a variety of different interests, primarily tech news but also had video game, automobile and cultural features. About 18 months after its founding, Calcanis sold Weblogs, Inc. to AOL for $30 million.
Since the sale of Weblogs, Inc. to AOL, Calacanis has amassed the majority of his fortune by being an angel investor. Most notably, he was one of the first investors in tech behemoth Uber that was recently valued at more than $100 billion. He has reportedly invested in over 70 startups and is currently investing $15 million a year in 30 promising startups through the LAUNCH Fund and his AngelList Syndicate, which has 400 members. In 2018, Calacanis invested in Calm, a meditation app that is valued at $1 billion.
After three years of hosting TechCrunch50, he founded LAUNCH Media, which publishes the LAUNCH Ticker and produces a number of events, including the annual LAUNCH Festival, the largest startup conference in the world with over 9,000 attendees last year. The Festival features 50+ startups that launch in front of 5,000+ industry leaders. Previous graduates include Mint, Dropbox, Yammer, Fitbit, and Room 77.
Since 2009, Calacanis has been the host of popular podcast This Week in Startups, the largest talk show about technology and startups in the world. Past guests on the show include Mark Cuban, Twitter founder Evan Williams, Paul Graham of Y Combinator, and angel investor Chris Sacca.
Calacanis is also the founder and CEO of Inside.com, a real-time mobile news app with the mission of being the world’s best news product. He also authored a book in 2017 titled Angel: How to Invest in Technology Startups – Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000. He is expected to be among the speakers at the first Philippine Fintech Festival in Manila this coming May.
Calacanis graduated from Xaverian High School in 1988 and earned his B.A. in psychology from Fordham University.
43. JOHN VARVATOS – New York
$120 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Eastern Michigan University & University of Michigan (Pre-Med & Education); Married, 3 children
Born in 1954 in a suburb of Detroit, John Varvatos, now 54, is a Greek-American contemporary fashion designer known around the world. His parents were both Greek. His father worked as an accountant in Michigan, and according to various sources, Varvatos has roots in Cephalonia.
In 1982, Varvatos entered the design industry at 17, joining Polo Ralph Lauren, and in 1990 moved over to Calvin Klein (CK), where he was in charge of menswear design and pioneered the concept of “boxer briefs,” which are men’s underpants that are a hybrid between boxers and briefs. That innovation propelled Varvatos to the top-tier of the design industry, as boxer briefs were highly touted as one of the greatest apparel revolutions of the 20th century after being made famous by a series of 1992 print ads featuring Mark Wahlberg.
Varvatos, later asked about what gave him the idea, said: “we just cut off a pair of longjohns and thought, this could be cool.”
Varvatos returned to Lauren in 1995, as head of all Polo menswear design, and he created the Polo Jeans Company.
Just at the turn of the century, in late 1999, Varvatos started his own company, debuting his first clothing line a year later, and opened a boutique in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood. The brand now includes belts, handbags, footwear, eyewear, and fragrances and is available at retail stores as well as his own stores. A few years later, Varvatos also signed a new deal with Converse, the athletic footwear manufacturer, to design a line of clothing under the Chuck Taylor label. For several years, he had designed his own version of classic shoes in the Converse line. The designs were so popular that they have continued to this day.
Varvatos joined the cast of NBC’s Fashion Star in 2012. One year later he saw the release of a limited edition Chrysler 300 in his name. In 2014, he partnered with a music label to launch John Varvatos Records, initially signing the Zac Brown Band.
Varvatos attributes his early interest in fashion to his love for rock and roll, observing the fashion statements of various rock musicians, from Alice Cooper to Green Day. Music, he says, also inspired his philanthropic causes, and he was influenced particularly by Beatles legend Ringo Starr’s involvement in “inner peace and global peace, both of which are important to me.”
Varvatos was named Gentleman Quarterly’s (GQ) Designer of the Year in 2007.
In 2015, Varvatos melded his three worlds: fashion, rock music, and Detroit, into the John Varvatos Detroit fashion line. An avid hockey fan, Varvatos had the privilege of creating custom-blazers for the National Hockey League’s top all-time 100 players at an event in early 2017 during the League’s All-Star Weekend.
In March 2019 Varvatos and HBO launched Game of Thrones upscale merchandise clothing – marking Varvatos’ first partnership with a television series. The line includes 11 menswear pieces including a hand-dyed leather jacket, cross-over Henley shirts, pants, a textured messenger bag and graphic prints over spray dyed t-shirts that feature emblems such as the ‘iron-throne’ motif.
A few months later, in September, the band Badflower were chosen as the cover artists for the latest John Varvatos Star USA campaign for the fall/winter of 2019. In that same month, Varvatos and singer Nick Jonas announced that they will be joining the celebrity tequila market with a brand called Villa One, created by the Stoli Group.
In a fascinating 2019 interview with the Untouchable Blog, Varvatos said the following when asked about whether his Greek roots come through in any of his collections: “I don’t know if they come through in my collections, but they definitely come through in my passion for what I do and my humility for what I do. I grew up in a 100% Greek family that was very humble – seven people in an 800 square foot house with one bathroom – and family was very important, relatives were important, the heritage was important. And now, I am very true to the heritage of my brand and have a respect for the heritage of menswear.”
42. ANDREW N. LIVERIS – Michigan
$138 MILLION (TNHE)
CHEMICALS, PLASTICS, MANAGEMENT
University of Queensland (Chemical Engineering); Married, 3 children
Andrew Liveris, 65, is the former chairman and CEO of the international chemical, materials, agroscience, and plastics global giant, Dow Chemical Company, based in Midland, MI. The Australian-born Liveris succeeded Dr. William Stavropoulos, a friend and mentor (also listed supra), in 2004 and became Chairman of the Board in 2006. Liveris, a 40-year industry veteran, left Dow after piloting the merger of the United States’ two largest chemical producers – Dupont and Dow – in a $130 billion deal in 2017. According to Bloomberg, Liveris received $65.7M in pay for his last year at the company. Liveris spent a total of 42 years at Dow and was the company’s longest-serving CEO. As per the American Chemical Society, Liveris transformed Dow from a cyclical chemicals manufacturing company into one powered by science, driven by innovation, and delivering solutions to the world.
Liveris first started working at Dow Australia in 1976 and spent time in their manufacturing, engineering, sales, marketing, business, and general management departments. During much of this time he worked in Asia, including 14 years in Hong Kong. He served as general manager for Dow in Thailand, and president of all Asia-Pacific operations. He joined Dow’s board of directors in February 2004, and was named CEO in November 2004. He was elected chairman of the board, taking over on April 1, 2006.
In 2012 he helped spearhead the founding of The Hellenic Initiative (THI), a global, nonprofit, secular institution whose vision is to mobilize the Greek diaspora and philhellene community to invest in the future of Greece through programs focused on crisis relief, entrepreneurship, and economic development.
Liveris is a firm believer in incentives for increasing manufacturing in the United States. He wrote and frequently speaks on his book Make it in America (2011) on that topic. Under his leadership, he wanted the ‘new’ Dow to make new products in America, often with an environmentally friendly or research-based core, such as solar shingles for homes.
He was tapped by the Trump Administration to help identify new ways to spur innovation and revitalize the U.S. manufacturing sector, and served as Co-Chair of U.S. President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership steering committee (which aims to pool the efforts of industry, schools, and the government for innovation in fields like information technology, biotechnology, and nanotechnology) and as a member of the U.S. President’s Export Council.
With roots in Kastellorizo, Greece, Liveris was born in Darwin, Australia. As he told students in a lecture in 2005, his grandfather was a Greek sailor who made the impromptu decision to stay in Darwin after traveling there on a merchant ship at the start of the 20th century. He has been quoted saying: “I am a proud Greek. Though I was not born on the banks of the Aegean or on the shores of the Mediterranean, I come from a country that enjoys its beaches and likes its meat on a skewer – that country is Australia. There are millions of Greeks like me around the world, born overseas but drawn to our homeland. We grew up hearing stories from our parents and grandparents about our heroes and our history. And no matter our heritage, our accent, or our current address, we feel a special connection to Greece.”
Liveris attended the University of Queensland in Brisbane, graduating with a bachelor’s degree (first-class honors) in chemical engineering, and was awarded the University Medal for that year. In 2005, he received an honorary doctorate in science from the school. Within a week of stepping down from his position as CEO of Dow Chemical, he revealed that he was donating $13.5 million to the university to be used to establish an endowment for what will be called the Liveris Academy for Innovation and Leadership.
Liveris sits on the Board of Directors of IBM, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Novonix, and he is a member of the Concordia Leadership Council and the Australian government’s Industry Growth Centres Advisory Committee. He serves as a trustee of Saudi Aramco, The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the California Institute of Technology, and the United States Council for International Business. He is also on the board of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF), serves as Co-Chair of the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum, and was appointed deputy chairman of Worley, a global engineering company. Recently, Liveris was named Senior Advisor to the Saudi Arabian Government’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, PIF.
Liveris is a chartered engineer and a fellow of the Institute of Chemical Engineers, as well as a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. In 2011 alone he received awards from the Committee for Economic Development, the U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB), and the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute. He was awarded the Order of Australia, the nation’s highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service, in 2014. In 2019, the Greek community of Melbourne also honored Liveris.
Liveris and his wife Paula, also a native of Australian, have three adult children: Nicholas, Alexandra and Anthony.
41. SAM GORES – California
$150 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
American Academy of Dramatic Arts; 3 children
Sam Gores, brother to Alec and Tom Gores (also featured on this list), founded the entertainment talent Agency Paradigm in 1992 and has become one of the top agents in Hollywood. After arriving in the United States with his family from Israel, Gores worked as a butcher and as a grocer. Gores now oversees Paradigm’s 700 employees out of its Beverly Hills headquarters, in addition to offices in almost a dozen other cities. Over the years, he has grown his company by wisely acquiring niche agencies and diversifying Paradigm’s client base. Paradigm remains privately owned, although in 2019 it discussed (and ultimately declined) merging with rival UTA. Earlier this year, Paradigm made significant cuts to its staff (about 4%) – laying off about 30 agents and support staff and reshuffling its executive suite. This lead to rumors that live giant CAA was considering an acquisition bid for Paradigm but Gores shut down those rumors by saying: “let me state emphatically – we are not for sale, nor are we selling the agency.”
Gores worked his way up the Hollywood food chain. He studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and was part of the first graduating class of the original California campus. In 1977 he took a job at The Gage Group, a talent agency headed by well-known industry player Martin Gage. In 1986, he founded his own shop, SGA Representation, and after a series of mergers and acquisitions, the Paradigm Agency was born.
In 2014, he acquired a 50% stake in London-based CODA Music. Gores further expanded the firm’s European reach by partnering with X-ray Touring and Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa in 2017. And just a few short weeks ago, it was announced that Paradigm was investing in and expanding into the sync world via a strategic investment in UK sync and sound branding agency, Pitch & Sync.
Paradigm first became a player in the music industry by purchasing Monterey Peninsula Artists (Dave Matthews Band, Phish, Aerosmith, Toby Keith) in 2004 and Little Big Man (Coldplay, The Fray) in 2006. Other noteworthy names in Paradigm’s repertoire include: Kacey Musgraves, Shawn Mendes, Tiesto, Imagine Dragons, Janet Jackson, Zoe Kravitz, Halsey, Diplo, Gucci Mane, Antonio Banderas, Neil Patrick Harris, Kenny Chesney, Ed Sheeran, The Black Eyed Peas – as well as teen phenom Billie Eilish, who swept the Grammys last month, winning all four top awards. Paradigm’s dominance in the festival space was underscored recently by a much-shared Rostr infographic showing the agency breakdown at Coachella, which gives Paradigm 35% of all acts. For comparison, the aforementioned CAA has 13%.
Gores has donated to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. He is also an active participant in Conservation International and Hand in Hand: Center for Jewish Arab Education in Israel which builds schools in Israel for both Jewish and Arab children. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the Recording Academy. He also serves as a Trustee at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and is on the board of Geffen Playhouse.