Robert L. Johnson is best known for Black Entertainment Television (BET) and currently is chairman and founder of RLJ Development and former majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, a National Basketball Association franchise along with rapper Nelly and NBA legend and current majority owner Michael Jordan. Johnson is still a minority investor in
In 2001, Johnson became the first African American billionaire, and the first black person to be listed on any of Forbes world's rich list. He's been inducted into Junior Achievement's U.S. Business Hall of Fame.
BET was the first black-controlled company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. BET reached over 65 million
Upon selling BET, Johnson started The RLJ Companies which he calls his "Second Act", to create a premier holding company and asset management firm run by a minority businessperson. The RLJ companies is a diverse portfolio of companies in the financial services, real estate, hospitality, professional sports, film production, automotive and gaming industries. The RLJ Companies is headquartered in
The RLJ Companies’ core businesses include: RLJ Development, a privately held hotel real estate investment company; RLJ Lodging Fund II and RLJ Real Estate Fund III, both of which are private equity real estate funds; the three together have over $2 billion in combined assets and additional purchasing power of nearly $4 billion;
Johnson founded Our Stories Films, a Los Angeles-based film company partnering with Harvey Weinstein's, Weinstein Company serving as distributor. Johnson recently petitioned for a license to place a new cable network known as UTV on ION Group's network, which would be a multi-faceted network.
Last year, Mr. Johnson talked Black Economics to Congress discussing public policy and making suggestions to address this compelling national problem. He recommended allowing black businesses to be eligible for government set aside contracts if they own 10 percent of a business rather than the existing 51 percent due to the 10-to-1 wealth gap between Blacks and whites. He also encourages majority-owned businesses to invest in black-owned companies. And he wants African American families earning less than $250,000 annually to defer federal income taxes, without interest.
Mr. Johnson wants the government to create a Treasury-backed fund to securitize short-term borrowing or emergency loans made by minority banks or other lending institutions to African American families provided these loans are marketed and made in a regulated and transparent manner. And ask Congress to require large banks under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to fund a nationwide marketing campaign targeted to the African American community, particularly young adults that will focus on financial literacy and savings.
Once married for 33 years to Sheila Johnson and two children from the union, Robert has led a prosperous life since his early days as a struggling businessman less than 30 years ago.