You may not know his name, but chances are you’ve used a service or watched a channel with connections to John C. Malone.
The largest individual landowner in the US, Malone is the chairman of Liberty Media and has interests as wide ranging as race cars, the Discovery Channel, and the Atlanta Braves.
Here’s a taste of his diverse interests:
- He is largest stakeholder of Liberty Media, which is worth $US24 billion.
- He owns 28% of Discovery Communications, which just sealed a $US14.6 billion deal for Scripps.
- He owns a quarter of Liberty Global, the largest international cable company with 29 million subscribers.
- He owns 8% of the publicly traded Atlanta Braves.
- He owns 2.2 million acres of land, making him the single largest landowner in the US.
But the media mogul wasn’t just born into his $US9.22 billion net worth. Here’s how one of the richest and most powerful people in American business rose to prominence.
John C. Malone was born to parents of Irish descent on March 7, 1941, in Milford Connecticut, a suburb about two hours north of New York City.
He attended the prestigious Hopkins School in neighbouring New Haven, graduating with a National Merit Scholarship in 1969.
The school, founded in 1660, is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. But Malone didn't always feel that he fit in.
'I was neither a preppy nor a town kid,' Malone said in 1994. 'So I put a lot of energy into athletics.' He got letters in fencing, track, and soccer. 'It was raw drive, not skill,' he says.
He has since donated $US25 million to fund school's science center, which bears his name.
After high school, Malone stayed in New Haven and attended Yale University. He graduated in 1963 with a degree in electrical engineering and economics.
Sticking with the Hopkins name (but no relation), Malone headed to Baltimore to study industrial management at Johns Hopkins University, receiving a master's in 1964.
In 2011, Malone made the largest donation to the university. His $US30 million donation has funded construction of a new, 56,000-square-foot research building for the Whiting School of Engineering.
Malone's introduction to the telecoms industry came as a student in the electrical-engineering program at New York University and Bell Labs.
Now owned by Lucid Technologies, Bell Labs is named for the telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. The lab is credited with developing many telecom innovations, including the laser beam, the programming language C, early calculators, and radio transmission.
Malone returned to Johns Hopkins in 1967 to do a doctorate in operations research.
In his three years consulting for large companies such as General Electric and IBM, Malone quickly learned of Wall Street's disdain for cable companies.
At Jerrold, Malone met Bob J. Magness, who in 1973 offered him the job of CEO of his almost bankrupt cable company, Tele-Communications Inc.
So Malone and his wife, Barbara, headed west to Colorado to try to save the company, which had only 400,000 subscribers and $US12 million in annual sales. Worse, the company owed creditors $US132 million. Malone wasted no time getting to work.
Over the years, Liberty Media's holdings have almost always beat the market average. With two-thirds of the shares, Malone's wealth has skyrocketed. He's ranked 151st on Bloomberg's billionaires index.
He owns millions of acres of woodlands near Boothbay, New Hampshire, where he keeps his sailing yachts.
All these deals -- and his 2.2 million acres of land -- have earned Malone the nickname 'Cable Cowboy.'
When not running a massive media conglomerate, Malone enjoys the finer things in life, like his Florida beach house.
Beyond land and houses, Malone has returned to his family's roots, buying up multiple high-profile hotels and castles in Ireland.
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