Kevin O’Leary is a multimillionaire from Canada, best known as the founder of Softkey Software and a member of the jury in Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank TV shows.
Born in Quebec, Canada, in 1954, Kevin O’Leary is a child of Irish father Terry O’Leary and a Lebanese mother Georgette. He has one brother, Shane. Thanks to his father’s origin, O’Leary also has an Irish passport as well.
O’Leary’s first job was at Nabisco, where he landed an internship during his studies. He later became an assistant brand manager for Nabisco’s cat food brand. He often stated that his success is in part due to the experience he gains while working there.
His first private venture was Special Event Television, a company he started with two of his friends. The company produces sports TV shows like The Original Six, Don Cherry’s Grapevine, and Bobby Orr and the Hockey Legends. O’Leary later sold his shares in the company for $25,000. He then started SoftKey in 1986. By the 1990s, the company became a major dealer of educational software and in 1995, they purchased The Learning Company (TLC) for $606 million.
Despite the new investments and acquisitions, TLC was losing money and was sold to Mattel for $4.2 billion in 1999. It was later dubbed as one of the worst purchases in history. Mattel even sued O’Leary, claiming that he deceived them. O’Leary defended himself in court and Mattel had to pay an additional $122 million to settle the suit. Later, O’Leary said that it was the technology meltdown and a culture clash of management that destroyed TLC.
In 2008, he started his own mutual fund investment company O’Leary Funds Inc. He serves as lead investor and CEO, while his brother Shane is a director.
Kevin O’Leary is known to the general public for his appearances in Dragon Den and Shark Tank. His TV persona of a rough and abrasive investor brought him his nickname Mr. Wonderful. He also co-hosted Discovery Channel’s Discovery Project Earth.
Kevin O’Leary net worth is estimated at $400 million. Considering in how many successful projects he has been involved, it isn’t surprising that he managed to amass such wealth. He is proof that, no matter how humble one’s origin is, it is still possible to rise to the stars.