Monday, April 27, 2009

Theodore "Ted" Waitt (More about business innovation)

Theodore "Ted" Waitt (born January 18, 1963) is an American billionaire who was a co-founder of Gateway, Inc.


Waitt was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa and attended the University of Iowa. Waitt and Mike Hammond started Gateway 2000 onSeptember 5, 1985 with a $10,000 loan from Waitt's grandmother. The Company began on Waitt's father's cattle ranch moved to Sergeant Bluff, Iowa and later to North Sioux City, South Dakota, where they continued to develop their "down-home" branding, complete with computer boxes that patterned with black and white Holstein cow patterns[1].

He led a move of the company's headquarters from South Dakota to La Jolla, California in 1998. Mr. Waitt released the reins as CEO of Gateway in late 1999 to Jeffrey Weitzen, but returned to the post in January 2001.

In 2004, after the acquisition of eMachines, Waitt turned over day-to-day operations of Gateway and the title of CEO to Wayne Inouye[2], the former CEO of eMachines. In May 2005, he resigned as chairman of the company[3], ending a near 20-year run with the company he co-founded.

Waitt has been featured on numerous lists by Forbes magazine. He has held a spot on both the Forbes 400 Richest in America as well as Forbes list of the World's Billionaires. He has also been listed on Fortune Magazines "40 Richest Under 40", a list of the 40 wealthiest self-made Americans under the age of 40 in the United States. The 2008 Forbes 400 List listed Waitt with a net worth estimated at $1.4 billion, the $400 million drop from the previous year was explained by "souring real estate" and a nine figure divorce settlement. [3]

According to the September 2002 issue of Fortune Magazine[4], Waitt sold $1.1 billion in Gateway stock during the dot com era. However, in October 2007 when Gateway was acquired for $1.90 per share, his remaining 46.5 million shares were valued at a mere $88.36 million.

Labeled a maverick by national business and technology publications[5], he has gone on to form two enterprises that are his chief interests: Avalon Capital Group, Inc., a wholly-owned, billion-dollar private investment company with diverse interests in technology, health care, energy, finance, and real estate; and the Waitt Family Foundation, Waitt Institute for Discovery and Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention, nonprofit organizations dedicated to the improvement of mankind’s knowledge through historical and scientific exploration.


Through the Waitt Family Foundation, Waitt has become one of America’s 50 most generous philanthropists, according to Business Week[6]. The Foundation funds partnerships and projects, sometimes in conjunction or collaboration with the Waitt Institutes, that seek a deeper understanding of human history and improve mankind’s knowledge through historical and scientific exploration.

Established in 1993[7], the Foundation initially focused on domestic violence prevention and community development, knowing that building stronger families and societies will help foster the vision of a better world. The creation of the Waitt Institutes in 2005 --- the Waitt Institute for Discovery, and the Waitt Institute for Violence Prevention --- has allowed the Foundation to broaden its program interests to the global community.

Waitt serves as the Chairman of the Founding Fathers campaign of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, just one of the efforts that he supports in the fight to prevent domestic violence. Waitt was appointed by Congress to serve on the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce and has served on numerous other corporate and philanthropic boards of directors, including the Advisory Council of the National Geographic Society and as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees[8] of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.

On 1 May 2008, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies announced [9] the grant of $20 million from the Waitt Family Foundation to fund the creation of an Advanced Biophotonics Center. On 18 December 2008, the William J. Clinton Foundation released a list of all contributors. It included Theodore Waitt, who gave between US$10–25 million.[10]

Mr. Waitt resides in La Jolla, California with his family.

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