Ted Turner is for many the epitomy of capitalism. He is the owner of the Superstation TBS, TNT, CNN, the Atlanta Braves and Hawks sports organizations and other channels like the Cartoon Network. Ted Turner is one of the top 50 wealthiest men (Forbes) with a net worth over 2 billion $$.
He is a media-mogul who pioneered the concept of the TV "super-station" broadcasting to cable systems nationwide via satellite. The system later dubbed TBS (Turner Broadcasting Station) enters over 160 million homes in 200 countries and nearly 40 languages. When TBS "merged" with Time Warner in 1996, Turner became Time Warner's largest shareholder with 10% of the company. Time Warner is the largest entertainment company in the world.
In 1986, Turner made a bid to purchase CBS but failed. As a consolation, Turner purchased Metro-Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) / United Artists. The mark of a true entrepreneur is not being afraid to try and Turner has attempted many unique ideas such as the "Checkout Channel" which provided news and information to people in supermarkets. Although this particular service was short-lived many other ideas thrived.
Turner has been very vocal about "giving back". In October, 1997, Turner made a plea to the "wealthy" of the world to use their wealth to make the world a better place for us all. He has pledged to donate $1 billion to the United Nations.
"We took names and I paid them all back -- with interest". "I've never been bashful about asking for help" - Ted Turner (In regards to a near bankrupting experience at WRET-TV in Charlottesville NC in 1970)
"Whenever, wherever, people are being treated badly, I'm concerned. What's wrong with that?"
Turner made a a desperate plea for donations for his financially struggling station. He asked viewers to contribute the equivalent of a pair of movies tickets to the station. He placed a fishbowl in the lobby of the station for collection. Viewers responded and donated $25,000
In 1971, with the TV station WTSG (which stood for "watch this station grow") he became the #1 independent TV station in the South.
Entrepreneurship at an early age
Born 1938, Turner began his career in the advertising business with his father selling space on billboards. Tragically, his father died but the memory of his father lived on and many believe his father to be the inspiration that gets Ted through the hard times.
Profiting from the billboard business, Turner's jump start came in 1970 when he purchased Rice Communications (later to be re-named Turner Broadcasting System). Losses in the first year totaled nearly $700,000. Turner was able to turn WSTG around and brought it to a #1 regional ranking. After nearly 9 years of traditional "wattage" broadcasting, Turner capitalized on the idea of satellite transmission communication to homes all over the world.
Key thoughts for entrepreneurs
Ted Turner went through the typical entrepreneurial journey of great highs and great lows. Like other entrepreneurial greats such as Bill Gates and Richard Branson, Turner was able to take a virtual start-up to a billion dollar company. At some point in a business life cycle, entrepreneurs realize (hopefully) they either need to cash out and sell the company (that's Gerard Levin of Time Warner consummating the merger with Turner Broadcasting to the right) or raise capital through private means or IPO (Initial Public Offering). Scenario #2 of going public, involves submission to a board of directors or to professional managers. Few have the ability to independently grow a company to a billion $$ enterprise. We salute you.
Turner is in many ways thick-skinned when it comes to asking for specific moneys for obtainable goals. Many entrepreneurs "believe" they need cash (and often spend way too much) before they learn where and how to spend the money. Take the time to find a mentor - someone who has been in your shoes. With quality research and the use of the network around us, we find many of the tools needed to build our business are right in front of us. Most of us begin the journey as individuals and "hire" as needed. The net result is that YOU need to build it but you don't need to be by yourself on the journey. It's your choice - truly one of the wonderful benefits to self-employment.
Today, Turner is continuing to build his empire. His most recent venture is is his restaurant, Ted's Montana Grill. Ted's Montana Grill was born as a result of Turner's love for Big Sky Country and its tradition of hearty food. The staple on the menu that any diner will see is bison.
Although an avid entrepreneur, Turner constantly gives back. He formed a partnership between Ted's Montana Grill and Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry in hopes of making sure no child goes hungry, and to help eliminate child hunger by 2015. The program gives children access to the nutrition they need to live healthy, active lives. Furthermore, in Turner's commitment to giving back he also gave 1 Billion dollars to United Nation's causes.
Books by or about Ted Turner:
Ted Turner : It Ain't As Easy at Is Looks : A Biography by Porter Bibb
Ted Turner Speaks : Insight from the World's Greatest Maverick by Janet Lowe