Eric Lefkofsky: American Business Man and Charitable Billionaire

Eric Lefkofsky, Jewish American entrepreneur, was born September 2, 1969 in Detroit, Michigan. As Eric grew towards adulthood, his passion for law and business would fuel both his education, and future venture capital.

At age 18, Lefkofsky graduated from Southfield-Lathrup High School to peruse an education at the University of Michigan. While in attendance of the university, he began what would be a long standing business career by selling carpet on campus. Graduating with honors in 1991 at age 22, Eric furthered his education by attending University of Michigan Law School where he received his Juris Doctor, a professional law degree.

Currently known as Chairman of Groupon, and co-founder of Lightbank, a venture capital firm, Lefkofsky was not always such a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. His original entrepreneurial ventures were smaller and less successful, but in 2001 he helped found InnerWorkings. InnerWorkings, a print procurement company that helps manage costs of printed items such as leaflets, brochures, and magazines for mid-size companies, has witnessed growth and has continued successful stock ratings in the United States. As of 2012, Lefkofsky left the company for bigger and better ventures.

MediaBank, a company that procures media technology, was Lefkofsky’s next business venture with his college friend Brad Keywell. MediaBank in 2007 bought out Datatech, the number one media buying company in the United States. In a $1.5 billion deal, MediaBank became Mediaocean after it merged with Donovan Data Systems.

Possibly one of Lefkofsky’s most successful and notable companies is Groupon, an e-commerce marketplace that connects subscribes to local merchants whom offer services and goods at a marketable price. In 2007 however, it was known as The Point. Andrew Mason, founder of The Point, wanted a web based company that would allow people to organize behind causes they found important and achieve a certain goal based on their cause. The company in it’s state only grew a small attraction as people wanted to back and organize for savings and deals. Seeing the opportunity, Lefkofsky funded the company with a cool $1 million. In 2008, the company changed its name to Groupon- a combination of the words group and coupon as homage to what the company now sought to do. As of 2010, Forbes declared Groupon the fastest growing company in history. In 2013, Lefkofsky became CEO of Groupon but later stepped down to take the roll as chairman in 2015. As of 2014 they had a reported income of $3.2 billion and an estimated 10,000 employees.

Beyond business ventures, Eric and his wife Elizabeth Lefkofsky have both been charitable with their earnings. In 2006 they started a charity trust called the Lefkofsky Foundation, a private foundation that contributes to smaller organizations, programs, and research that may improve the quality of their surrounding communities. That includes initiatives that introduce foreign culture, further education, and benefit medical research. They are also participating members in The Giving Pledge, a foundation started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage globally influential people of wealth to redistribute some of their earnings to charitable causes.

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