How Telecom Entrepreneur Howard Jonas is Striking It Rich Again

Turned acquisitions by AT&T and now Verizon into billion-dollar paydays.

May 12, 2017 11:24 am
Howard Jonas, the Telecom Speculator Who's Made Billions From Verizon, AT&T Deals
Straight Path Communications Inc. signage is displayed on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Monday, May 8, 2017. (Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Good things actually come in twos for Howard Jonas.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Jonas, a telecom speculator, is selling his company Straight Path Communications Inc., to Verizon for $3.1 billion. That represents his second big payout from an acquisition in 20 years, since he sold his stake in Net2Phone back in 2000 to AT&T for $1.1 billion.

On paper, Verizon’s acquisition doesn’t seem like that big a get; the company has just nine employees. But for the telecom giant, it’s banking on the licenses Straight Path’s holds to “use high-frequency radio waves that some engineers think could form the backbone of next-generation networks,” per the Journal.

Just who is the man behind these incredible deals? The 60-year-old Jonas, originally from the Bronx, has an economics degree from Harvard, and founded his first telecom company in 1990. As the Journal explains:

“Mr. Jonas doesn’t fit the stereotype of a New York investor. His fourth floor office in downtown Newark, N.J. overlooks the Passaic River and Harrison, N.J., and the décor reflects his eclectic interests. On the wall is an original painting by Winston Churchill, an 1878 letter from Thomas Edison, pictures of Mr. Jonas with past Republican presidents and a drawing of him from comic legend Stan Lee. He has a framed check for $37.02 signed by notorious Jewish gangster Meyer Lansky in 1936 to the New York Telephone Company, now part of Verizon.”

Get to know Jonas better by watching a 2011 interview he did with Bloomberg.

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