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Eastern Michigan University & University of Michigan (Pre-Med & Education); Married, 3 children
When asked in an interview for the Untouchable Blog whether his Greek roots come through in his collections, Varvatos said: “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.”
Born in 1954 in Detroit, John Varvatos was born to Greek parents originally form Kefalonia, his father working as an accountant in Michigan.
The internationally acclaimed fashion designer entered the design industry at 17, joining Polo Ralph Lauren. In 1990, he moved 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. “We just cut off a pair of longjohns and thought, this could be cool,” said Varvatos on his innovation. In 1995, Varvatos returned to Ralph Lauren as head of menswear design for the entirety of Polo Ralph Lauren brands, creating the Polo Jeans Company during his tenure.
Following his second appointment with Ralph Lauren, Varvatos started his own eponymous company in 1999, debuting his first clothing line a year later, and following it up soon thereafter with 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.
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, who was named GQ’s 2007 Designer of the Year, 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.”
In March 2019 Varvatos and HBO launched Game of Thrones upscale merchandise clothing – marking Varvatos’ first partnership with a television series. The line included 11 menswear pieces including a hand-dyed leather jacket, cross-over Hen-ley 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 would be joining the celebrity tequila market with a brand called Villa One, created by the Stoli Group.
Varvatos makes his comeback on our list following his namesake company’s bankruptcy in 2020 and its sale to Lion Capital, and just as his most recent venture is picking up steam. Launched a few months ago, once more in SoHo, Varvatos is currently heading OTD, a new brand which is currently expanding to a target of four stores in the United States, with a UK store planned for 2023. Talking to Glossy about the new brand, Varvatos said: “Because we are doing men’s, women’s, and unisex, instead of just men’s, there are a lot more shared responsibilities across the team. It’s a lot of jack-of-all-trades designers working together on several different [product] categories. Aside from a few interns, there aren’t a lot of junior people on the team. We opted for a smaller but more experienced team, and that’s helped us get off to a good start.”
OTD stands for On This Day. And on this day, it looks pretty good.
39. Jason Calacanis
$100 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
INTERNET ENTREPRENEURSHIP, INVESTMENTS
Fordham University (Psychology);
Married, 3 children
Take it from Fast Company’s comment on his acclaimed 2017 book Angel; How to Invest in Technology Startups – Timeless Advice from an Angel Investor Who Turned $100,000 into $100,000,000: “…that’s the thing about Calacanis. Only a sucker would bet against him.” Of course, the question is moot, since there are not that many people betting against Calacanis. And with a personal net worth of $100 million, there’s ample evidence that he can win his bets. Now 51, this noted digital entrepreneur, angel investor, and author, was born Jason McCabe Calacanis, to parents of Greek and Irish origin.
A psychology major, Calacanis saw his future in the future of tech, initially covering the internet industry as a reporter in the 1990s, before becoming one of that industry’s prominent figures. His journalistic vehicle was the Silicon Alley Reporter, a 16-page photocopied newsletter which blew up into a fully-fledged, 300-page magazine. In 2003, along with Brian Alvey, and with an angel investment by Mark Cuban, Calacanis co-founded Weblogs, Inc., a blog network featuring entries of a variety of different interests – primarily tech news, but also video game, automobile, and cultural features – which he sold to AOL for $30 million, only 18 months later.
Since then, Calacanis took on for others the role that Cuban played for him, amassing most of his fortune by his activity as 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 300 startups and is currently investing $15 million a year in 30 promising startups through the LAUNCH Fund and his Angel-List Syndicate, which has invested, among others, in Thumbtack, Trello, Robinhood, and Calm, the award-winning meditation app 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+ start-ups 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. Earlier in March, Calacanis, who maintains an active twitter presence, headlined the Emergence Sydney conference on investment opportunities.
38. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON
$125M (MD Daily Record)
University of Cambridge (Economics); 2 children
Catapulted to fame by her (married) namesake news site, Arianna has proven to be a true, modern, (Greek) Renaissance woman – or, “the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus,” as she was once described. Founded in 2016, Huffington’s most recent venture is Thrive Global, a company dedicated to behavior change, which is currently orienting its resources toward tackling the burnout crisis plaguing the workforce after the peak of the pandemic. Huffington also sits on the boards of several companies, including Uber, Onex, and others.
Originally Ariadne Anna Stassinopoulos, she was born in 1950 in Athens, Greece, to Elli (a Red Cross worker) and Konstantinos. She was raised by her mother in a one-bedroom apartment with her sister, Agapi. Her father was a newspaperman. During World War II, when Germany occupied Greece, he was publishing an underground newspaper but was eventually caught and sent to a concentration camp where he spent the rest of the war. Afterwards, he recovered at a sanatorium in Greece where he met Arianna’s future mother, who was recovering from TB.
In a 2010 interview published on the website Inc., Arianna said she got her knack for relationships from her mother: She was capable of having an impersonal relationship with anybody. The delivery man would arrive at the house, and she’d say, ‘Sit down; have something to eat.’ As a result, I find it very easy to connect with people. And that’s part of the Huffington Post. I’m bringing in voices – some well-known, some not – and providing a platform.”
Stassinopoulos left Greece for Great Britain during her teens and studied at the University of Cambridge before moving to the United States in 1980. The following year, she released an acclaimed biography of one of the world’s opera greats – Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend.
Stassinopoulos eventually married Michael Huffington, who held a position in the U.S. Department of Defense, and the couple had two children. The two later divorced, but Arianna kept his last name.
In 2005, Stassinopoulos (now Huffington) launched the online site The Huffington Post, serving as its co-founder and editor-in-chief. In March of 2011, AOL acquired The Huffington Post Media Group for $315 million (the company is now owned by BuzzFeed). In 2016, she announced that she was leaving the company in order to start Thrive Global, a health and wellness venture. She has authored 15 books, including Thrive, where she makes an ‘impassioned and compelling case for the need to redefine what it means to be successful in today’s world’ – after her own experience of collapsing as a result of exhaustion and lack of sleep while she was president and editor of the Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington also tipped her toe in the film industry and executive produced Valley of the Boom, a docuseries about the tech boom of the 1990s that was released in 2019.
Huffington has been named to the Forbes Most Powerful Women list as well as the Most Influential Women in Media list. She was also named to Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and The Guardian’s Top 100 in Media list. This year, she is portrayed by Uma Thurman in Showtime’s TV series Super Pumped.
37. HOWARD LORBER
REAL ESTATE, INVESTMENTS, FOOD
Long Island University; Married, 2 children
The chairman of real estate powerhouse Douglas Elliman, Howard Lorber’s Greek roots go back to the impressive, resilient Jewish community of Thessaloniki. Appointed, in 2017, to serve as Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by President Trump, to whose 2016 campaign he was a senior economic adviser, Lorber talked to Leaders Magazine and discussed his family history: “My grandmother and grandfather were Greek Jews born in Thessaloniki. Greece had 100,000 Jews and 50,000 of them lived in this area of Greece. Ninety-five thousand of those 100,000 Jews were killed. In Thessaloniki, 48,000 of the 50,000 were taken to Auschwitz and murdered. Luckily, my grandparents were able to come to the United States years before World War II. I remember my grandmother telling me that my grandfather died so young because he had lost his will to live as a result of every single relative and every person he knew having had been murdered. When I looked at getting involved in the museum, those whom I’d spoken to who had been involved in the past all described the experience as life-changing. I then accepted the opportunity to become the Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.”
In addition to Douglas Elliman, one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms with over 7,000 employees, Lorber is also the President and CEO of Vector Group Ltd. and its wholly owned subsidiary, New Valley, LLC. He also serves as the Executive Chairman of Nathan’s Famous, Inc., which is headquartered in Jericho, NY. Earlier this year, SEC filings revealed a gross transaction value of $51 billion for 2021, nearly doubling its 2019 and 2020 performance.
Lorber was honored with the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award by the Washington ‘Oxi’ Day Foundation, which highlights the courage of the Greeks during the Holocaust.
36. ANDREW N. LIVERIS
$141 MILLION (TNH)
CHEMICALS, PLASTICS, MANAGEMENT
University of Queensland (Chemical Engineering); Married, 3 children
Andrew Liveris, 68, 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. Currently, he is the chairman of Lucid Motors, a director of IBM, Saudi Aramco, Worley, and NOVONIX. He is also on the advisory board of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and NEOM, an initiative driven by Saudi Vision 2030.
Liveris, a 40-year industry veteran, left Dow after piloting the merger of the U.S.’s 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. According to 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 then elected chairman of the board, taking over on April 1, 2006.
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.
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 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), and serves as Co-Chair of the Saudi-U.S. CEO Forum. Recently, Liveris was named Senior Advisor to the Saudi Arabian Government’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, PIF. Most recently, Liveris was reportedly meeting with Dennis Mehiel and other business leaders to craft a set of proposals, including a potential carbon tax, to help pay for the infrastructure plan of the Biden administration.
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. 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 and 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 and his wife Paula, also a native of Australia, have three adult children: Nicholas, Alexandra and Anthony.
35. PETE SAMPRAS
$150 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Married, 2 children
Tennis fans are somewhat spoiled these days. The Big Three -Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal – remain active, setting record upon record. Greece’s own Stefanos Tsitsipas builds his steady trajectory with tenacity – and some controversy. Fame, records, money, it becomes ever more the norm – and yet, there remains the legend of a player who did all this before it was so, who did it, it might appear, with whispers rather than flamboyance. The great Pete Sampras held the #1 spot in the sport for 286 weeks (3rd longest of all-time), winning 14 major singles titles, including seven Wimbledon titles – the French Open being the only Grand Slam to have eluded him.
Almost 51 now, Sampras retired in 2003 in true legend fashion, his last game being his 2002 U.S. Open win against long-time rival, Andre Agassi. Just four years later, in 2007, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2007.
Born in Potomac, MD to an American-born father (Sotirios) of Greek descent and a mother (Georgia) born in Sparta, Sampras, who has been ranked number one in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for a record six consecutive years, showed an extraordinary gift for sports from the early age of just 3 years old. In 1988, just before his 17th birthday, Sampras turned professional, and began the year ranked number 893 in the world. Before the year was over, he climbed up the rankings with lightning speed, finishing at 97. In 1990, Sampras became the youngest U.S. Open men’s champion at 19 years and 28 days old. Because of his precise serve, he earned the tiled ‘Pistol Pete’. In 1993, he became the first player to serve more than 1000 aces in a season.
Sampras’ mother, Georgia, grew up with six sisters and two brothers and didn’t come to the United States until she was 25. Not surprisingly, Greek culture was an important part of Sampras family life. As a kid, Pete attended Greek Orthodox Church services every Sunday with his parents and siblings.
Sampras now plays exhibition tennis to raise money for charities, such those that assist earthquake victims. Sampras and his wife, Bridgette Wilson, live in California with their two sons.
His ‘rival’, Andre Agassi, a tennis legend in his own right, was quoted saying about Sampras, “A great rival is like a mirror. You have to look at yourself, acknowledge where you fall short, make adjustments, and nurture the areas where you over-achieve. There were times my rivals brought out the best in me; there were times they brought out the worst. They probably helped me win things I never would have otherwise; they also cost me titles. I don’t know how you quantify what it would have been like without a rival like Pete Sampras. I would have won more. But I think I would have been worse without him.”
This tennis great makes a comeback on our list at #35, but don’t let that number deceive you. As when he retired, he remains at the very top of his game.
34. D. JAMES BIDZOS
$216 MILLION (WallMine)
An internet and security industry pioneer, Greek-American D. James Bidzos, 67, owes his fortune to the information technology revolution. Founder, Chairman of the Board, Executive Chairman of Verisign, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRSN), which provides domain name registry services and Internet security worldwide, Bidzos’ company offers a range of security services, including cyber-threat reporting. Verisign currently manages $21 billion worth of .com domains, with each domain base registry fee costing $7.85 annually. Bidzos served as Verisign’s first CEO from 1995 to 2001. In 2010 the company’s authentication services were purchased by Symantec for $1.28 billion but Bidzos returned to the CEO job in 2011. The following year, he was named Fortune’s 2012 Businessperson of the year for reviving Verisign’s income, growth, and stock performance, which previously had flagged. His compensation increased by 46% in 2013 to $8.5 million, including his bonus and stock awards.
Born in Greece, Bidzos came to the United States as a boy. His father worked as a barber, and his mother managed a restaurant.
A former computer programmer, Bidzos is credited with foreseeing the need for online security in the early 1990s. He became an internet and security industry pioneer, whose accomplishments include building RSA Security into the early standard-bearer for authentication and encryption, and launching Verisign as a company in 1995 to develop the digital certificate infrastructure for internet commerce. Verisign operates infrastructure services that enable and protect billions of interactions every day across the world’s voice, video and data networks. Among the company’s services are providing .com, .net, .cc, .tv, .name, and .jobs domain names for websites. According to Verisign’s website, the company reported revenue of $1.27 billion for 2020, up 2.7 percent from $1.23 billion in 2019 and net income of $815 million for 2020, compared to net income of $612 million in 2019.
Bidzos has been named one of Time magazine’s Digital 50, and is in CRN’s Computer Industry Hall of Fame. In September 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration named Bidzos, who is a certified pilot, to the FAA Airmen Certification Database. In late 2016, the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame honored Bidzos, who is an inductee, by naming him keynote speaker at its fifth annual award ceremony in October in Baltimore, MD, for his “key role in the creation of the cyber security industry.”
33. JOHN & CHRIS PAPPAS
$225 MILLION (WallMine)
RETAIL & WHOLESALE – FOOD
Since entering our list for the first time last year, Chefs Warehouse founders John and Chris Pappas have seen a slight drop in their combined fortune, but that is more than offset by their company’s performance. A specialty food products distributor for restaurants, Chefs Warehouse recently posted an impressive earnings release for 2021 Q4, with sales just over $558 million. That number goes to show that the company, which recently acquired several assets of Martin Preferred Foods, as well as those of Capital Seaboard, has more than rebounded from the woes that the pandemic inflicted upon the restaurant industry, considering that Q4 sales for 2019 and 2020 were $427M and $282M, respectively.
According to the company’s website, “the Chefs’ Warehouse has been the trusted source of the world’s greatest ingredients to North America’s top chefs for 35 years, including Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Eric Ripert, Missy Robbins, Michael Mina, Nancy Silverton, Dan Barber, Daniel Boulud, Jose Andres, and many others.”
Chris and John started the company (originally called Dairyland USA) inspired by their father Peter Pappas who was a “butter and egg man” years ago, selling from his truck. Peter Pappas and his cousin, Greek Cypriot immigrants and Korean War veterans, founded the Veterans’ Butter and Egg Company in 1956, providing butter, eggs, and cheeses to many New York City restaurants.
Chris, 59, has served as the Chefs’ Warehouse chief executive officer since 1985 as well as Board chairman since the company’s IPO. Prior to founding the company, Chris played basketball professionally in Europe for several years following his graduation from Adelphi University in 1981 with a BA in Business Administration. Chris currently oversees all of the company’s business activities, with a focus on product procurement, sales, marketing, strategy development, business development and operations. He also serves on the board of directors of the International Foodservice Distributors Association and the Hudson National Golf Club.
John is also a graduate of Adelphi University. He currently serves as the company’s vice chairman, a position he has held since March 2011. From the company’s founding in 1985 to 2011, he served as CEO. He has 25 years of experience in logistics, facility management and global procurement and oversees the Chefs Warehouse network of distribution centers nationwide. John is also active in the development of the company’s corporate strategy.
During the pandemic, Chefs’ Warehouse began offering home delivery to home cooks in New York and Connecticut in an effort to help home cooks “stay safe and avoid long supermarket lines” as per the Daily Voice. Chris told the Daily Voice, “we recognize that COVID-19 presents significant challenges for consumers to obtain day-to-day household foods. We are transforming our company to serve our communities in their time of need.” The Chefs’ Warehouse management team also announced that they would be donating 10% of retail sales profits to their front-line furloughed employees and other impacted employees of the foodservice industry.
32. THEODORE ANTHONY SARANDOS JR.
California $250 MILLION (Celebrity Net Worth)
Married, 2 children
As Netflix’s co-CEO and Chief Content Officer, 58 year-old Theodore (“Ted”) Anthony Sarandos Jr. is leading a company, and in many ways, an industry that is part of most people’s everyday routine. This Greek-American businessman, who is the fourth of five children, once discussed his Greek heritage in an interview where he described how his paternal grandfather came from the Greek island of Samos to the U.S. as a young boy. Their original family name was Kariotakis, which his grandfather later changed to Sarandos.
In an interview with The Standard, Sarandos spoke about his first visit to Samos with his children: “My father described it: ‘You get into the port. Make a left. Look up the hill. There’s a yellow house with goats in the yard.’ I’m like, ‘it can’t be that simple.’ But it was. My kids were excited to meet their family. We knock on the door but they don’t speak English, and I don’t speak Greek, so I am trying to explain who I am, and finally they close the door on us. Sarah [his daughter] starts crying, ‘I thought we were going to see our family.’ I go, ‘Sarah, imagine if someone came to the door and started screaming at you in Chinese. But back at the hotel the manager wrote them a letter. So I handed it to them and five minutes later we are eating together and drinking together.”
Sarandos himself was born in Phoenix, AZ. Before joining Netflix, Sarandos begun working as a store manager for the Arizona Video Cassettes West chain, later becoming Western regional director of Sales and Operations for East Texas Distributors, and Vice President of Product and Merchandising for Video City/West Coast Video. In 2000, he joined the now-leading streamer, which, under Sarandos’ leadership, this year celebrated a full decade of original programming. In 2020, the company picked up 10.1 million worldwide subscribers during the April-June period, more than triple what it usually adds in that period. Netflix currently boasts over 209 million paid memberships in over 190 countries.
Sarandos oversaw the production of series such as ‘House of Cards’, ‘Arrested Development’, ‘Orange is the New Black’, ‘Stranger Things’, ‘Dark’ (Germany), ‘La Casa De Papel’ (Spain), and ‘Sacred Games’ (India), as well as original films like ‘The Irishman’, ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’, ‘Bright’, ‘Bird Box’, and the 3-time Academy Award winning film ‘ROMA.’ Netflix’s series and film productions frequently garner critical acclaim, allowing the streamer to dominate during awards season. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also signed a deal to make programs with Netflix, which counts event former President and Michelle Obama’s production company among its partners. Meanwhile, hit creator Shonda Rhimes proved Sarandos’ right in signing her onto the platform for what is now rumored to have ballooned into a mid- 9 figure deal, delivering shows like Bridgerton and the recent hit Discovering Anna. Sarandos is also responsible for the company’s massive investment in the UK, which resulted in over 40 shows including global hits like ‘Our Planet’ and ‘The Crown. In September, Sarandos made the biggest deal in Netflix’s history, as it acquired the Roal Dahl Story Company for an impressive $700 million.
In response to the pandemic, Netflix created a $100 million emergency support fund for workers in the creative community affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Regarding the fund, Sarandos said, “This community has supported Netflix through the good times, and we want to help them through these hard times, especially while governments are still figuring out what economic support they will provide.”
Sarandos has two children from his marriage to Michelle Sarandos, and is currently married to Nicole Avant, the former United States Ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009-2011 who was appointed to the post by former President Barack Obama. Last year, Sarandos landed among the 100 most influential people in the world in the ‘Titans’ list of Time magazine (a/k/a TIME 100). He is also a member of the Tribeca Festival and the Los Angeles Film Festival boards and he has been named Consultant of the Digital Entertainment Group. He has served on Spotify’s board since 2016.
31. GEORGE SAKELLARIS
$250.4 MILLION (Benzinga)
University of Maine-Orono; Married, 2 children
George Sakellaris, 75, has persevered in the energy industry, working to eliminate regulatory barriers to investing private capital into energy efficiency and renewable initiatives.
Sakellaris was born in Laconia, Greece, where the young boy excelled in math and science. According to the Worcester Business Journal Sakellaris remembers one of his teachers telling him he must use his math skills to either become a teacher or an engineer. After graduating from high school in Greece, he traveled to Bangor, ME, as a college exchange student in 1965. He spoke little English when he first enrolled at the University of Maine-Orono, but worked his way through his studies and earned a BSEE degree, driven by a love of mathematics and the sciences. His parents arrived in the United States in 1969 and the family settled in Boston. Sakellaris then started working at local utility New England Electrical Systems (NEES), earning an MBA and MSEE from Northeastern University along the way. Then, Sakellaris explains, “in 1979, while working for NEES, the management wanted to establish a company to promote energy efficiency to avoid the need to build new generation plants. They asked me to lead that initiative and I welcomed the challenge.” The subsidiary he launched was called NEES Energy. Then in 1990, Sakellaris purchased NEES Energy and it became the energy conservation company he re-named NORESCO.
In January 2000, he founded Ameresco which he took public 10 years later. The company has become one of the largest energy solutions companies in North America with over 1,000 employees and more than 70 local offices throughout America and the United Kingdom. Ameresco specializes in providing comprehensive services, energy efficiency, infrastructure upgrades, asset sustainability, renewable energy, and energy information management solutions. The company, whose motto is “Green. Clean. Sustainable,” increases energy efficiency for federal, state and local governments, healthcare and educational institutions, public housing authorities, and commercial and industrial customers.
Most recently, Forbes media announced that Ameresco will be named number six on the 2021 America’s Best Mid-size Companies List – the only energy solutions provider included among the annual list’s 100 companies. In recognition of this high honor, Sakellaris said, “over the past 20 years, Ameresco has maintained a relentless focus on leading the quest to change the world as a trusted sustainability partner. As a clean tech market leader, we are proud to see this industry recognition, and even more excited as we pursue the tremendous opportunity on the horizon.” Ameresco was also named one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the nation by the National Association for Business Resources for the second straight year.
Sakellaris is a Distinguished Member Inductee of the Frances Crowe Society at the University of Maine, which gave him the Edward T. Bryand Distinguished Engineer Award in 2007. In May 2012, the University of Maine granted him an Honorary Doctorate for his lifetime of achievements, recognizing his dedication and exemplary leadership in the field of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Some of his other awards include winning an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of The Year 2011 New England award, and Business Leader of the Year 2012 for Large Business by the Worcester Business Journal. In 2009, he received a Gabby Award (named loosely from the acronym “Greek America’s Best and Brightest”) from the Greek America Foundation. In 2020, he was named an Environment + Energy Leader E+E 100 Honoree and the Silver Winner of Best in Biz’s Executive of the Year category.
Per industry coverage, covering the fourth quarter of 2021 and full-year results, Ameresco recorded full-year revenues of $1.2 billion, an 18% increase on 2020 figures, with a 30% rise in net income attributable to common shareholders, for a total of $70.5M.
Sakellaris supports numerous educational institutions, including Northeastern University, Hellenic College/Holy Cross, and the University of Maine. At UMass Lowell, he established an endowment in memory of his mentor, the late Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas. In addition, he was a founding member of Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism. He is an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and a major benefactor at his local church, St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Braintree, MA.
An avid sailor, Sakellaris has won the RORC Caribbean twice – once in 2014 and then again in 2016. He has also won the sailing competition Les Voiles de St. Barth three times consecutively – in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
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