Kevin O’Leary is a Canadian businessman, author, and television personality. He co-founded O’Leary Funds and SoftKey. Currently, he appears on the ABC reality television show Shark Tank as one of the show’s “sharks.
If ever there was a shark in a tank who was more feared but well respected among his peers, it was Keven O’Leary. If he jumps onboard, he smells money.
A Brief Bio of Kevin O’Leary
O’Leary was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, the son of Georgette (née Bukalam), a small business owner and investor, and Terry O’Leary, a salesman. His father died when Kevin was a teenager. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts in History from Stanford University in 1984. After his graduation from Stanford, O’Leary worked as an assistant brand manager for Nabisco in Toronto.
Kevin is well respected but also known as a hard person, which was probably due to his upbringing and background. He worked from the bottom all the way to the top, but he did it in his own way.
In 1986, with two friends, he formed Special Event Television (SET), a company that produced television commercials for Canadian corporations. In 1987, they sold their first company to Mattel for $4 million.
In 1989, O’Leary co-founded SoftKey Software Products, a technology company that specialized in educational software for the PC. SoftKey was acquired by The Learning Company in 1995 for $606 million. As a result of the sale, O’Leary made more than $200 million.
After the sale of SoftKey, O’Leary founded an investment fund called OCI Partners. He is also a co-founder of O’Leary Ventures, a private equity firm.
O’Leary has appeared on several Canadian and American television shows, including Red Green and Discovery Channel’s Project Earth. He also produced and starred in a CBC Television series called The Lang and O’Leary Exchange.
In 2009, O’Leary appeared on the fifth season of Dragons’ Den, a Canadian reality television show in which entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of venture capitalists.
The Shark Tank Years
In 2011, he appeared on the U.S. version of the show, Shark Tank. Ever since Kevin has been on the show, his demeanor is considered intimidating. One would believe he is a shark that will bite, which is kind of funny.
He is a highly intelligent investor who knows his numbers. Kevin is one of the most conservative with his money and only moves when profits are above a certain margin that fits to his liking.
There are not many who attract the shark’s attention, but when they do, the other sharks know they have something special in their presence in front of them.
Kevin goes for the throat when it comes to bidding. This is where the other sharks become a bit intimidated. Only those who know how to bid and make deals that stick can go up against Kevin O’Leary.
It is best to say, if he chooses to invest with the entrepreneur, the product would have to be considered golden. The truth is he is all business and does not care about a person’s feelings face to face when doing the numbers. When the curtain falls, he shows a bit of remorse for the human side.
Books and Politics with Kevin O’Leary
O’Leary has written two books: Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life and Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women & Money. Both were best sellers and speak of the blunt side of the intimidating shark. His profits come from these best-sellers and previous businesses, along with investing in new businesses.
O’Leary is a supporter of capitalism and has said that he is “pro-business, not pro-free markets”. He is also a supporter of the scientific consensus on climate change.
On February 27, 2017, O’Leary announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. He officially entered the race on April 26, 2017. On May 28, 2017, he withdrew his candidacy.
O’Leary is married to Linda O’Leary and they have two children. They reside in Toronto, Canada. His net worth is estimated to be $400 million.
The Best and Worst Investments
Some of Kevin O’Leary’s best investments on Shark Tank include:
- Scrub Daddy: A smiley face sponge that changes texture based on water temperature. This was one of the most successful products in Shark Tank history, with sales exceeding $100 million by 2018.
- Tipsy Elves: A company that sells ugly Christmas sweaters. This was a controversial investment, as some felt that the product was in bad taste. However, the company has been very successful, with sales exceeding $10 million in 2018.
- Groovebook: A service that creates a photo book from your phone’s camera roll each month. This was a very successful investment, with the company being acquired by Shutterfly for $14.5 million in 2014.
Some of Kevin O’Leary’s worst investments on Shark Tank include:
- Send A Meal: A meal delivery service that was unable to keep up with customer demand and went out of business.
- Grace & Lace: A clothing company that was accused of plagiarizing another company’s design. The company has since changed its name and is still in business.
- Naked Juice: A juice company that was sued for false advertising. The case was settled out of court and the company is still in business.
Kevin O’Leary Outside of Business
O’Leary is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. He is also a supporter of the English soccer team Arsenal FC. In his free time, he spends time on the water sailing in his boat. He tells reporters and all who interview him he loves his family, but as for money, they have to earn their own.
Kevin’s way is his money and he is a man with great pride in his accomplishments. He is not one to share the spotlight if he did things himself but he is grateful for all he has and all those who support him. In the end, that’s all that matters.