Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Frank Batten

It is going to be clear with a high of 62 degrees in Huron, OH, where I am today. In Clemson, SC (where I’m from) it will be partly cloudy with a high of 79. I know these things thanks to Frank Batten, Sr. and weather.com.

Batten is a veteran newsman who built his wealth though the acquisition and running of several newspapers starting with his work as the publisher of The Virginia-Pilot in the 1950’s. But when he teamed with weatherman John Coleman to launch the first 24-hour all-weather television network, he made the leap from rich guy to Forbes 400 worthy super-rich guy.

The Weather Channel was initially met with a great deal of skepticism, as most people could not envision the need for such an entire station dedicated to 24 hours of weather related programs. But from his time as a newspaperman, Batten recognized that the weather section of his paper was one of the most consistently read sections of the paper. The Weather Channel was a surprising success and its empire eventually included the incredibly popular weather.com, which gets over 300 million hits per month. Batten cashed out at an opportune time, selling his Weather Channel empire to to NBC Universal for $3.5 billion, just prior to the collapse of the stock market last year.

Batten is often quoted regarding the importance of his education in his development as a successful entrepreneur. Like so many of our other Heroes, Batten has become increasingly well-known as a philanthropist in recent years and fittingly his focus has been education. He has given large sums of money to Harvard Business School, the University of Virginia and Old Dominion University.

See if this sounds familiar. Frank Batten recognized an opportunity to provide a much desired service more creatively and efficiently than anyone else previously had attempted. As a result, his Weather Channel is a regular feature on most people’s basic cable package and a frequent stop during morning coffee for millions of Americans, and Frank Batten is an extremely wealthy man.

Batten Profile

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