No. 2: Robert L. Johnson, The Power Player

Follow the Black Enterprise 40th Anniversary countdown of the most impactful black business leaders of the past 40 years

Robert L. Johnson made business history when he took BET public in 1991, the first time a black-owned company was traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2000, he sold the cable network to Viacom for $3.2 billion, making him the first African American billionaire. He acquired the Charlotte Bobcats in 2003, creating the first black-owned NBA franchise and launched four other BE 100s companies.

VIDEO: Watch Robert Johnson’s Power Player profile on the Black Enterprise Business Report

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, Black Enterprise is taking a look both forward and backward at the world of black business. Our list of 40 “Titans: The Most Powerful African Americans in Business–and How They Shaped Our World” recognizes and pays homage to the entrepreneurs and business men and women who paved the way for all of us. Follow our countdown of the most important black business leaders of the four decades since Black Enterprise Magazine was founded in August 1970.

These are the men and women who fought the odds, suffered setbacks, regrouped, and eventually emerged victorious. Whether they conducted business from their own offices or the executive suite, their professional excellence, deal-making prowess, and unwavering advocacy converted promise into channels of prosperity and levers of power. These are the pioneers who withstood the elements—institutional racism, resistance from the business establishment, and lack of resources—to plant a flag on their own patch of territory.

These are the Titans: bold leaders who shattered conventional modes of commerce. Because of their contributions over the past 40 years, the world of business has been transformed forever.

Be sure to pick up the commemorative 40th anniversary August 2010 issue of Black Enterprise, which contains the entire Titans list.

  • Michael Mims

    I have a number of ideas that would interest a company such as RLJ Developement, but I don’t know how to go about submitting them without the ideas being stolen from me. I tried freely writing a letter to a well-know person and within a year afterwards the ideas were used. But the details of the ideas wasn’t given and they eventually flopped and was off the air with those particular shows. I have two invention ideas and about 10 different business ventures that will take a person of status to bring them out mainstream. I feel I’m a small shark amongst whales looking to partner with them so that we both can grow bigger. Is there hope for me? Or a possibility of life becoming of this vision that I have and want to share with someone? I would appreciate any advice at all from you! Thank you….

    Michael Mims

  • Michael Mims

    I like the article….It’s very inspiring….I pray that what I Ieft as my comment gets seen though….It seems that there is less than a hand full of people that God has Bless with creativity, innovating new ideas and concepts, and a different approach into making money by our businessmen or the moguls from music. Mr. Johnson is one! But the ideas that I have will/could spiral into an empire that would inspire, gain the trust, bring back honesty, integrity, hope, and meanwhile reaping profits and continually growing as an empire like no other. I think of this vision of being a modern day underground railroad system helping all to get to the next level in life. Being a true outlet for the talented and gifted and partnershiping the whole way. I’m looking for a way of introducing this vision to someone like a Bob Johnson….


    Michael L. Mims

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  • Robert L. Johnson is the currently a Board of Director for KB Home Inc. On Wikipedia Johnson’s bio has no mention of Johnson who sits on KB Home Board of Directors? Clearly Robert L. Johnson does not want to be associated with one of the nations largest builders?

    Robert L. Johnson does not have a biography on the Charlotte Bobcats Official Website? The RLJ Companies, Robert L. Johnson does include 2 words: KB Home.

    Currently, Mr. Johnson serves on the following boards:

    * KB Home
    * Lowe’s Companies, Inc.
    * Strayer Education
    * International Management Group
    * NBA Board of Governors
    * Deutsche Bank Advisory Committee
    * The Business Council
    * Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

    Other distinguished KB Home Board members include Robert L. Johnson’s buddy Bruce Karatz who was just convicted as a felon and is currently under house arrest in his 24 room Bel-Air Mansion (not built by KB Home) serving out his 8 months home confinement for swindling 11 Million Dollars. Martha Stewart is a spokesperson for KB Home also served time for her former stock swindle; Martha was not offered a spokesperson job for the BET Black Entertainment Television. Gary A. Ray head of KB Home human resources is a convicted felon in this current stock swindle.

    Robert L. Johnson and KB Home built this lemon with Bruce Karatz. KB Home is under a Federal Trade Commission Consent Order. KB Home must buy back your home if not 100% satisfied within the first year? Robert L. Johnson has never responded as KB Home Board of Directors to any customer complaint letter sent to him by certified mail. KB Home sells Lemons, Just Google Robert L. Johnson Sucks.

    Seems the entire BET, Charlotte Bobcats, a National Basketball Association franchise have an image problem? Not mentioning their chairman’s proud accomplishments at KB Home.

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