Billionaire Profile: Todd Wagner

Todd Wagner is best known as the co-founder of Broadcast.com and founder of the Todd Wagner Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing access to technology and education to at-risk and inner-city children.

Wagner was born in 1960 in Gary, Indiana and attended Indiana University. He also earned a law degree from the University of Virginia and gained his CPA (Certified Public Accountant) certification in Texas before beginning a career in law.

How did he make it?

In 1995, Wagner created AudioNet, an internet broadcasting company, with his partner and fellow Indiana University alumnus Mark Cuban. Although this company started as little more than a single PC and an ISDN line, the company grew quickly. Within three years, Wagner took AudioNet public as Broadcast.com. The Broadcast.com IPO opened with a remarkable 249% growth in value, from an initial share price of $18 to nearly $63 per share at closing.

After four years of steady growth, Wagner and Cuban agreed to sell Broadcast.com. When Yahoo! purchased the company for $5.7 billion, its employees became instant millionaires, and Wagner and Cuban became billionaires. Wagner agreed to continue to lead the Broadcast.com division, but he left the company (and an opportunity to become Yahoo!’s chief operating officer) to pursue other interests, including other business ventures and philanthropy.

Where is he now?

After their success with Broadcast.com, Wagner and Cuban began to build a portfolio of companies involved in the creation and distribution of entertainment-industry products. This portfolio includes 2929 Productions, for which Wagner serves as CEO. This production company primarily produces films focused on social issues, with the goal of creating inspirational and moving films. Examples of 2929 Productions films include Good Night and Good Luck and We Own the Night.

Wagner also continues his philanthropic work with the Todd Wagner Foundation, which provides technology access & education to inner-city and other at-risk youth. The foundation has started several after-school programs, including the After-School-All-Stars, to provide educational, cultural, and athletic opportunities to students in inner-city schools. Wagner has also developed a program called MIRACLES, a program for inner-city children that focuses on technology education and life skills. Because of his dedication to helping the country’s under served youth, Wagner has received a number of philanthropy awards.

Lessons learned

Todd Wagner’s brilliant career provides some valuable lessons to anyone trying to find success in the business world: First, choose to invest your time and energy in an industry that you care about. Second, don’t be afraid to walk away and start again. Most importantly, remember to give back once you’ve found success.