Last Updated on January 4, 2021
Who is Kevin O’Leary?
Terence Thomas Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian businessman, television personality, author, and politician.
As a businessman, Kevin O’Leary is best known for founding the software company SoftKey International. And on television, O’Leary gained recognition as one of the venture capitalists on the reality television shows Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank.
|Full Name:||Terence Thomas Kevin O’Leary|
|Popular Name:||Kevin O’Leary|
|Birth Date:||July 9, 1954|
|Parents:||Terry O’Leary and Georgette Bukalam O’Leary|
|Birth Place:||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|Nationality:||Canadian and Irish|
|Ethnicity:||Irish and Lebanese|
|Education:||Stanstead College, St. George’s School, University of Waterloo, and Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario|
|Children:||Trevor O’Leary and Savannah O’Leary|
|Net Worth:||USD 400 million (as of November 1, 2020)|
|Source of Wealth:||Entrepreneurship, Reality Television Shows, Writing, and Other Ventures|
|Height:||5′ 9″ (1.75 m)|
|Weight:||81 kg; In pounds: 178 lbs.|
Early Life and Career Information
Kevin O’Leary was born on July 9, 1954, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, to Terry O’Leary and Georgette Bukalam O’Leary. His father was a salesman, whereas his mother was a small-business owner and investor.
O’Leary’s parents divorced when he was a child, mostly due to his father’s chronic alcoholism. After the divorce, Georgette Bukalam married economist George Kanawaty who was at the time working with the United Nation’s International Labour Organization.
As a child, O’Leary aspired to become a photographer. However, his stepfather advised him to attend university. He proceeded to the University of Waterloo, where he graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. He went on to pursue an MBA in entrepreneurship at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School, graduating with the same in 1980.
While pursuing his MBA, O’Leary worked as an intern at Nabisco. He left Nabisco and decided to venture into the entertainment industry, mostly as a television producer. He teamed up with two of his former MBA classmates to found Special Event Television (SET), the company through which he undertook most of his television production projects. O’Leary would later sell his shares in SET to one of the investors for $25,000.
In 1986, O’Leary co-founded the software company SoftKey International, along with his business partners Gary Babcock and John Freeman. SoftKey mostly dealt in the distribution of educational software products. By the early ‘90s, the company had established itself as a leader in the educational software market. It went on to acquire rival companies at the time, including WordStar and Spinnaker Software.
In 1995, SoftKey acquired The Learning Company (TLC) for $606 million, after which it adopted the TLC name. Four years later, Mattel acquired TLC for $4.2 billion. However, Mattel witnessed a drastic dip in sales over the first few years following its acquisition of TLC, and O’Leary left the company.
From then, Kevin O’Leary has been involved in a string of investment projects, including:
• StorageNow Holdings, a Canadian company involved in the development of climate-controlled storage solutions,
• Genstar Capital, a private equity firm where O’Leary served on the advisory board, and
• O’Leary Funds Inc., a mutual fund company founded by O’Leary, which he currently chairs
In 2006, Kevin O’Leary made a television appearance as one of the venture capitalists on CBC’s Dragon’s Den. Three years later, Dragon’s Den spawned its American version known as Shark Tank, and O’Leary appeared on the show again as a venture capitalist.
Still on television, O’Leary is remembered for co-hosting the Discovery Project Earth aired on the Discovery Channel. The show attempted to explore sustainable ways of reversing the adverse effects of climate change. Other television shows that Kevin O’Leary has appeared in include The Lang & O’Leary Exchange on CBC, as well as hosting his own reality television show known as Redemption Inc.
As an author, Kevin O’Leary has written three notable books, including:
• Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life (2011)
• Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women & Money (2012)
• Cold Hard Truth on Family, Kids and Money (2013)
Kevin O’Leary’s Net Worth
As of November 1, 2020, Kevin O’Leary had a net worth of $400 million. O’Leary made his first million during his earlier days working with SoftKey International.
Although SoftKey International registered dismal performance after it was acquired by Mattel, O’Leary had already cashed in on his shares in the company. Which explains why he found it convenient to depart the company.
In addition to SoftKey International, StorageNow Holdings is another one of O’Leary’s highly-successful ventures. In 2007, StorageNow was acquired for $110 million. O’Leary had purchased shares in the company worth $500,000. And by the time the company was acquired, his half-a-million worth of shares translated into $4.5 million.
Lessons from Kevin O’Leary
1. Pick a few valuable lessons from those who came before you
Kevin O’Leary credits many of his investment lessons to his mother. After she died, O’Leary didn’t just inherit her leadership role in the family business, but also many of her business principles.
2. Diversify your income
O’Leary strongly emphasizes the need to diversify one’s investments in multiple sectors. According to him, you shouldn’t invest more than 20% of your financial portfolio in one sector.
3. The sky is the limit
Kevin O’Leary doesn’t believe in living in the comfort zone. Although he’s an accomplished businessman, he has always had his eyes set on greater achievements. In 2017, he unsuccessfully campaigned for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, and was actually one of the frontrunners in the polls before dropping out.
Famous Quotes by Kevin O’Leary
“Here’s how I think of my money – as soldiers – I send them out to war every day. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them.”
“I’m not planning on giving my kids any of my wealth. They know when their education is over, I’m pushing them out of the nest. The bird you see dead under the nest is the one who didn’t think about the future.”
“I’m not a tough guy. I’m just delivering the truth and only the truth and if you can’t deal with it, too bad.”
“There is a discipline required as an entrepreneur about working to optimize the business. There is no balance in life as an entrepreneur. You can’t expect to work 9 to 5 that’s never going to happen. You have to expect that it is going to consume your life for a period of time. That’s the downside, but the upside is that you buy yourself freedom in perpetuity.”
“What are the most important qualities that make a successful entrepreneur? The ability to communicate. The ability to express your idea with certainty. That’s how you become a leader even if you are unsure, your ability to explain your vision and your direction is the attribute you need the most. Articulate your idea in 90 seconds or less.”
Kevin O’Leary is a successful venture capitalist with a net worth of $400 million in 2020. He attributes his impressive net worth to his sharp business acumen, which has seen him diversify his investment portfolio across multiple industry sectors.