Kevin O’Leary is a fraud. He is a fake character played by an actor. His real identity may remain elusive, but we do know one thing: He is the same actor that plays the well-known comedian, Eugene Levy. He also maintains at least one fake Facebook account.
A CAPITALIST EXTREMIST CHARACTER…OF COURSE.
In the false dichotomy that is popular economics (capitalism versus socialism), what the opposition thought we absolutely needed was a clown capitalist cheerleader who would make such callous remarks as outlined below to the fact that the richest 85 people have more wealth than 3.5 billion combined worldwide:
“It’s fantastic and this is a great thing because it inspires everybody, gets them motivation to look up to the one percent and say, ‘I want to become one of those people, I’m going to fight hard to get up to the top.’ This is fantastic news and of course I applaud it. What can be wrong with this? I celebrate capitalism. Don’t tell me that you want to redistribute wealth again, that’s never gonna happen … it’s a celebratory stat. … If you work hard, you might be stinking rich one day”
Of course. A target for the majority of reasonable people to waste their time on. A distraction. Bread and circus. It’s no wonder his O’Leary character has been involved with TV and the media from the earliest days of his so-called financial empire… Much like his other character, Eugene Levy. We can be overwhelmingly certain that neither of the biographies of either character are factual or reliably truthful.
The Official (Fake) Billionaire Story
His father was Irish and his mother was of Lebanese descent. O’Leary’s parents divorced when he was young, and his father died shortly thereafter. His mother, Georgette, later remarried. He attended St. George’s School. After graduating from high school, O’Leary studied for two years at the Royal Military College Saint-Jean followed by the University of Waterloo, where he received an honours bachelor’s degree in environmental studies and anthropology. In 1980, he earned an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario.
Immediately after college, O’Leary and two friends launched Special Event Television (SET), a television production company that met limited success producing small television shows and in-between-periods commercials and local professional hockey games. Later he was bought out for $25,000 by one of his partners.
O’Leary then moved on to his second business venture, a software company in the basement of a small Toronto home along with partners John Freeman and Gary Babcock. His mother provided the seed investmentcapital of $10,000, which he used to start software publisher SoftKey. Softkey products typically consisted of software intended for home audiences, especially compilation discs containing various freeware or sharewaregame software packaged in a “jewel-case” CD-ROM. By 1994, Softkey had become a major consolidator in the educational software market, acquiring no fewer than 60 rivals, such as WordStar and Spinnaker Software.
In 1995, Softkey acquired The Learning Company (TLC) for $606 million, moved its headquarters to Boston, and took The Learning Company as its name. TLC bought its former rival Brøderbund in June 1998 for $416 million. In 1999, TLC and its 467 software titles were acquired by Mattel in a $3.8 billion stock swap. Sales and earnings for Mattel soon dropped, and O’Leary departed from Mattel. The purchase by Mattel was later called one of the most disastrous acquisitions in history.
In 2003, he became a co-investor and director in Storage Now, a developer of climate-controlled storage facilities. Through a series of development projects and acquisitions, Storage Now became Canada’s third-largest owner/operator of storage services, with facilities located in 11 cities serving such companies as Merck and Pfizer when it was acquired by the In Storage REIT in March 2007 for $110 million.
In March 2007, O’Leary joined the advisory board of Genstar Capital, a private equity firm that focuses on investments in selected segments of life science and healthcare services, industrial technology, business services and software. Genstar Capital appointed O’Leary to its Strategic Advisory Board to seek new investment opportunities for its $1.2 billion fund. O’Leary also serves on the executive board of the Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario. He is a member of the investment committee of Boston’s 107-year-old Hamilton Trust and an investor of EnGlobe, a TSX listed company. He is a former co-host of SqueezePlay onBusiness News Network, Canada’s national business television specialty channel. O’Leary is currently working as the entrepreneur, investor, and co-host for the Discovery Channel’s Discovery Project Earth, a project that explores innovative ways man could reverse climate change.
In September 2011, O’Leary released his book, Cold Hard Truth: On Business, Money & Life, wherein he shares his secrets, experiences, insights, and lessons on entrepreneurship, business, finance, money and life as well as advice for budding entrepreneurs. A sequel to his first book called The Cold Hard Truth On Men, Women, and Money: 50 Common Money Mistakes and How to Fix Them was followed up in 2012, which focused a greater emphasis toward personal financial money management techniques, common money mistakes, tricks and tips to earn more financial freedom each targeted toward a specific stage in a person’s life.
O’Leary serves as foil to journalist Amanda Lang on The Lang and O’Leary Exchange onCBC News Network. He is a venture capitalist on the Canadian television show Dragons’ Den as well as a shark on the American version of Dragons’ Den, Shark Tank, which airs on ABC. He is referred to as “Mr. Wonderful” and “The Undertaker” by Mark Cuban on the show. He has also hosted his own television show, Redemption Inc.
During a segment on the Occupy Wall Streetprotests on 6 October 2011 episode of theCBC News Network‘s The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, O’Leary criticized Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges for sounding “like a left-wing nutbar.” Hedges stated afterwards that “it will be the last time [he appears on the show]” and compared the CBC to Fox News. CBC’s ombudsman found O’Leary’s behaviour to be a violation of the public broadcaster’s journalistic standards.
In August 2013, O’Leary interviewed Rachel Parent, a 14-year-old anti-GMO foods activist. In the interview, O’Leary expressed concern that Parent had become a “shill” for environmentalists. The video went viral on social media.
Having carved out a niche for the O’Leary brand in the software industry, O’Leary moved on to establish the O’Leary name and brand in a multitude of industries, companies and products. Following his successful business ventures in software, storage facilities, and private equity, O’Leary has established his name in a number of other industries, including O’Leary Funds (a mutual and investment fund management firm that handles over $1.5 billion), O’Leary Ventures (a private early-stage investment company that invests in and partners with early-stage, high-growth-potential companies in various Canadian industries), O’Leary Mortgages (a mortgage firm), O’Leary books, and O’Leary Fine Wines (a winemaking company). In April 2014, O’Leary Mortgages went out of business. Little over a year after launching with much fan fare and notoriety including weekly plugs on hisDragons’ Den prologue, O’Leary was unable to keep one of his 3 core businesses afloat. Industry reports seemed unsurprised by the failure given O’Leary’s confusing public persona and the company’s Chief Executive Officer’s, Alexey Kenjeev, lack of industry experience.
Poverty activists have condemned O’Leary’s comments on an Oxfam report that the 85 richest people have the same wealth as the 3.5 billion poorest people on the planet. O’Leary had commented “This is fantastic news and of course I’m going to applaud it. What can be wrong with this?”
In 2011 O’Leary was condemned by the CBC ombudsman Kirk LaPointe for his use of the term “Indian Giver”. The ombudsman wrote that his comments were “unambiguously offensive”
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FAKE BILLIONAIRE STORY
From Globe: SoftKey’s most prominent takeover was the consummation of its 1995 hostile bid for San Francisco-based The Learning Company (TLC). As part of its due diligence, TLC hired the Center for Financial Research and Analysis (CFRA), a forensic accounting firm, to examine its suitor’s financials. Thus began the counternarrative to O’Leary’s heroic foundation story. Reports by CFRA were the first in a series of analyses that stand in stark contrast to the O’Leary version of events. One of CFRA’s reports alleged that SoftKey may have overstated its earnings by bundling various general and administrative costs into write-offs. CFRA was also unhappy with SoftKey’s response after its auditor, Arthur Andersen, found deficiencies in the company’s internal controls.
While O’Leary says in his memoir, Cold Hard Truth, that TLC was a money-making machine, an SEC filing shows that TLC suffered net losses of $376 million in 1996, $495 million in 1997 and $105 million in 1998. Moreover, TLC’s accumulated deficit topped $1.1 billion by the end of 1998. In an interview, Scott Murray, TLC’s former CFO, attributed the losses to goodwill write-offs that stemmed from buying other firms. He concedes there were a lot of “accounting losses” but contends that if one looked at EBITDA—earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization—it was a different matter.
In 1998, toy giant Mattel Inc. made a takeover bid for TLC. Desperate to reverse a steep slide in the company’s stock price, Mattel CEO Jill Barad seized on educational software as a driver of future growth. The takeover offer shocked many. Software-industry analyst Sean McGowan couldn’t believe that Barad zeroed in on TLC, given that it was a well-known “house of cards” that was burdened with tired brands—not helped by the fact that O’Leary had slashed R&D from 24% down to 11% of expenditures. “There was a lot of [TLC] inventory out there that was not moving very well,” McGowan says. “They pumped up the sales by repackaging and distributing to convenience stores and drugstores. And that’s stuff which sits there and gets returned.” Indeed, TLC was accused in a shareholders’ lawsuit and later by a Mattel executive of “stuffing the channels”—shipping product at the end of a quarter and recording it as revenue, even though much of the merchandise would be returned.
Mattel purchased TLC for about $4 billion in the spring of 1999. (Depending on how debt is considered, the figure ranges from $3.4 billion to $4.2 billion.) O’Leary took over as president of Mattel’s new TLC digital division, having received a hike in salary from $400,000 to $650,000 and an increase in his severance package from $2.1 million to $5.25 million. A few months after the sale went through, O’Leary sold most of his Mattel stock and pocketed nearly $6 million, according to a court document.
Weeks after the sale, CFRA produced a critical report on Mattel, claiming TLC was already experiencing collapsing revenue, a surge in receivables and a deterioration of operating cash flow. In the third quarter of 1999, Mattel expected profits of $50 million from the TLC division. When Mattel revised that estimate to a loss of between $50 million and $100 million, the announcement wiped out more than $2 billion in shareholder value in one day, as the company’s share price slid from nearly $17 to $11.69. The actual divisional loss for the quarter turned out to be $105 million; the next quarter, the loss was $206 million. In November of 1999, O’Leary was fired, six months into a three-year contract.
O’Leary did not do as well at Environmental Management Solutions Inc. (later called EnGlobe Inc.), an Ontario waste management firm. In 2004, O’Leary was asked to join the board (of which Mark McQueen was also a member). Soon after, the board fired the company’s CEO. But the company’s leadership was unable to arrest a decline in its fortunes brought on by an overambitious acquisition program; the stock price slid from close to $4 to 3.5 cents during O’Leary’s term of almost five years as a director. When the company was bought by an Onex Corp. fund and privatized in 2011, shareholders received less than 30 cents per share. “I lost whatever my investment was in that,” says O’Leary, who owned 500,000 shares. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. …It was a zero for me.”
Monetizing his Popularity: The Real Agenda
As O’Leary became a household name, he occasionally quipped to associates that he needed to monetize the attention. Mulling over his options, he decided to put his weight behind an asset management company. In the wake of Ottawa’s decision to tax income trusts, which had paid juicy yields to retail investors, O’Leary figured he could create dividend-oriented funds that targeted this income-starved group.
But there were two problems: O’Leary had publicly railed against mutual-fund fees for years, and he wasn’t licensed to manage money. O’Leary acknowledges that he regularly took mutual-fund managers to task for gouging investors.
EUGENE LEVY: SHARK and DRAGONS and AMERICAN PIE
Eugene Levy, CM (born December 17, 1946) is a Canadian actor, comedian, singer and writer. He is known for his work in Canadian television series, American movies, and television movies. He is the only actor to have appeared in all eight of the American Piefilms, as Jim Levenstein‘s dad Noah. Like his Levenstein character, Levy often plays nerdy, unconventional figures, with his humor often deriving from his excessive explanations with matters and the way in which he deals with sticky situations. Levy was appointed to theOrder of Canada on June 30, 2011. Levy was born to a Jewish family inHamilton, Ontario. His mother was a homemaker and his father was a foreman at an automobile plant. He went to Westdale Secondary School, and attended McMaster University. He was vice-president of the McMaster Film Board, a student film group, where he met moviemaker Ivan Reitman.
An alumnus of both The Second City, Torontoand the sketch comedy series Second City Television, Levy often plays unusual supporting characters with nerdish streaks. Perhaps his best-known role on SCTV was as the dimwitted Earl Camembert, a news anchor for the “SCTV News” and a parody of real-life Canadian newsman Earl Cameron. Celebrities impersonated by Levy on SCTV include: Perry Como, Ricardo Montalban, Alex Trebek, Sean Connery, Howard Cosell, Henry Kissinger,Menachem Begin, Bud Abbott, Milton Berle,John Charles Daly, Gene Shalit, Jack Carter,Muammar al-Gaddafi, Tony Dow, James Caan, Lorne Greene, Rex Reed, Ralph Young (of Sandler and Young), F. Lee Bailey, Ernest Borgnine, former Ontario chief coroner Dr. Morton Schulman, Norman Mailer, Neil Sedaka, and Howard McNear as “Floyd the Barber”.
Original Levy characterizations on SCTV were comic Bobby Bittman, scandal sheet entrepreneur Dr. Rawl Withers, “report on business” naïf Brian Johns, 3-D horror auteur Woody Tobias Jr., cheerful Leutonianaccordionist Stan Schmenge, lecherous dream interpreter Raoul Wilson, hammer-voiced sports broadcaster Lou Jaffe, diminutive union patriarch Sid Dithers (“San Francisckie! Did you drove or did you flew?”), fey current-events commentator Joel Weiss, buttoned-down panel show moderator Dougal Currie, smarmy Just for Fun emcee Stan Kanter, energetic used car salesman Al Peck, guileless security guard Gus Gustofferson, Phil the Garment King (also of Phil’s Nails), and the inept teen dance show host Rockin’ Mel Slirrup.
Though he has been the “above the title” star in only two films, 1986’s Armed and Dangerous and 2005’s The Man, he has featured prominently in many films. He is the co-writer and frequent cast member ofChristopher Guest’s mockumentary features, particularly A Mighty Wind, where his sympathetic performance as brain-damaged folksinger Mitch Cohen won kudos; his accolades included a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Musical or Comedy and the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared in Splash, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Club Paradise, Stay Tuned, Multiplicity, and other comedies. Levy was the creator of Maniac Mansion, a television sitcom based on the LucasArtsvideo game of the same name. He was also seriously considered for the role of Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, a role that went to actor Richard Schiff.
American Pie series
Levy’s career received a tremendous boost in 1999, when he was cast as the clueless but loving dad in the blockbuster American Pie. Reprising the role in three film sequels and starring in four straight-to-video sequels made him something of a cult hero. Levy has been quoted as saying the American Pie series was a particular turning point in his career, affording him “a new perspective on his career at the time”. Since working on the first twoAmerican Pie movies, Levy has worked withSteve Martin and Queen Latifah in Bringing Down the House, and most recently appeared with Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Levy again appeared as his famous character, Noah Levenstein, in the fourth theatrical movie in the American Pie film series,American Reunion. He is the only actor to appear in all eight American Pie films.
Levy, along with Christopher Guest andMichael McKean, was awarded the 2003Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media for the title song from A Mighty Wind. Levy appeared in the corner of a poster hanging outside the movie theatre in Springfield in the “See Homer Run” episode ofThe Simpsons. (The poster was advertising for Rockstar Princess and featured a girl with an electric guitar, with Levy in the corner wearing a royal crown. A liner note under him read “Eugene Levy as the King”).
In March 2006, it was announced that he would receive a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. In 2002, the entire cast of SCTV was given a group star, and although Levy is not mentioned on the actual star, he was still inducted as a part of the group. This makes him one of only four two-time honourees, alongside fellow SCTV alumni John Candy,Martin Short, and Catherine O’Hara.
Levy is one of only a handful of people who have won at least five Canadian Comedy Awards, including two for Best Writing (Best In Show in 2001 and A Mighty Wind in 2004) and three for Best Male Performer (Best in Show,American Pie 2 in 2002, and A Mighty Wind).
On May 3, 2008, the Governor General of Canada presented Levy with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA), a lifetime achievement award considered Canada’s “most prestigious artistic honour”. In 2010, Levy was awarded the ACTRA Award by the union representing Canada’s actors.
In 2011, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada “for his contributions as a comic actor and writer, and for his dedication to charitable causes.”
On May 22, 2012, Levy delivered a commencement address at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, NS, and was awarded the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa).
On June 11, 2012, he was presented with theQueen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.