Owner of numerous sports teams, Ted J. Leonsis has been the toast of the Washington, DC area sports world for years, and he is as focused and driven as ever.
He is the founder, chairman, CEO and majority owner of Monumental Sports and Entertainment, which owns and operates the professional sports teams Washington Capitals (National Hockey League), Washington Wizards (National Basketball League), Washington Mystics (Women’s National Basketball League) and Verizon Center in downtown Washington, DC. The partnership also operates Kettler Capitals Iceplex (the Washington Capitals’ training facility and front office headquarters) and the George Mason University Patriot Center. He formed Monumental Sports in June 2010 by merging his Lincoln Holdings LLC and Washington Sports & Entertainment Limited Partnership.
After surviving an airplane crash landing in 1983, he resolved to “rethink my priorities and how I planned to lead my life going forward,” he explained. He drafted a list of 101 goals to accomplish. To date he has completed 82 of the tasks, including owning a sports franchise, playing one-on-one basketball with Michael Jordan, and starting a family charity foundation. (See the complete list at tedstake.com.) In 2010, he published The Business of Happiness: 6 Secrets to Extraordinary Success in Life and Work.
Few people have roots as deep in the computer industry, or as much knowledge and experience of its history and potential. A pioneer of the Internet and new media, Leonsis participated in launches of the Apple MacIntosh, the IBM PC and the Wang office automation. He has led four businesses that have grown at record rates: he built Wang WP (the first word processor) from a $200 million to a $1 billion company with the largest female management team in the country. He was founder and CEO of Redgate Communications Corporation, considered the first new media marketing company. He built AOL into the first $1 billion interactive services company and the world’s biggest media company, helping to increase its membership from fewer than 800,000 to more than 8 million in a four-year span (1994-97). He retired from AOL in 2006 and currently serves as vice chairman emeritus.
The grandson of Greek immigrants, Leonsis was born to a family of modest means in Brooklyn, and spent his early years there. His family later moved back to his mother’s hometown of Lowell, MA. He graduated from Lowell High School in 1973 and attended Georgetown University. After graduating in 1977, he moved back to his parents’ home in Lowell and began working for Wang Laboratories. In 1980, Leonsis started his own company, which grew quickly, and sold it to International Thompson for $60 million in 1981. He then started Redgate, which he sold to AOL in 1993, commencing his relationship with the once-pervasive online juggernaut. He completed his tenure as AOL’s president and vice chairman before stepping down in 2006.
In 2015 he became Board Chairman of the District of Columbia College Access Program (DC CAP), a private non-profit organization that encourages and enables public high school students to enroll in and graduate from college.
Leonsis is a co-founder and partner at Revolution Growth Fund, chairman of the Groupon board of directors, and founder/chairman of SnagFilms, a website that streams thousands of movies and TV episodes free. He has produced award-winning documentaries including “Nanking,” which told the story of the 1937 invasion of Nanking, China by the Japanese army. It premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and won a Peabody Award and an Emmy Award in 2009.
Leonsis and his wife, Lynn, live in Maryland. They have a son, Zachary, and a daughter, Elle.
In early February, Sports Techie concluded that if arena football can be saved in the United States, Ted Leonsis is the person to do it.