Daniel Snyder Brings Entrepreneurial Accolades to the Washington Redskins

Daniel Snyder has earned all sorts of accolades and positions of leadership over his lifetime, including top positions at Six Flags and the owner of a successful multimedia company.

In 2020, he was ranked No. 804 on Forbes’ list of billionaires, and in 2019, was ranked as No. 333 on the Forbes 400 list. His net worth as of 2020 is about $2.6 billion.

One thing people have remarked about Snyder is that he’s considered a self-made billionaire, unlike some top dogs who gained their fortunes through inheritance.

What is even more impressive about Snyder is that, although he likes making money, many of the projects he invests in have a more philanthropic nature, something that can benefit the greater community.

For instance, in 1999, he put together an impressive financing package to purchase the Washington Redskins football team and its stadium for $750 million. At the time, the facilities were in poor shape, and the team didn’t have a great reputation at a team level and within the NFL.

During interviews following this purchase, Snyder, a native of the Washington, D.C., was asked if he did it all for the money. The answer was a firm no – he emphasized how lucky he was to be part of a team he grew up watching, and how he and other officials were going to make the community proud.  His goal was to “focus on the opportunity and the dream.”

Over the last 20 years with Dan Snyder at the helm, the football organization has seen all sorts of improvements and enhancements in the stadium, including attracting various sponsors and offering naming rights. (FedEx was one of several organizations that stepped up, and now the entire stadium bears its name).

Dan Snyder also created the Redskins Charitable Foundation, which supports all sorts of educational and service programs in the D.C. community. This include programs that brighten the lives of children and families, including teaching programs and raising money for disaster relief at a local, national and global level. The foundation has invested in hospitals, tribes, the military and more.

Today, the football organization is worth about $3.1 billion, which definitely has presented a substantial return on Snyder’s investment.

Dan Snyder’s projects

Although Dan Snyder came to the attention of football fans when he began negotiations for the team’s purchase, he was already a recognized leader in the areas of finance and media.

Snyder was born in November 1964 in Silver Springs, Maryland. Early records show he was always eager to work hard, and some of his jobs as a teen included working at a mall bookstore and mopping floors in the cafeteria of the National Institutes for Health.

He attended grade schools and high schools in London and the U.S., and looked for ways to put deals together that connected people and provided useful services.

One of his first projects, that ultimately failed, was selling bus trips for local hockey fans to attend Washington Capitals road games in Philadelphia. Next came an effort to arrange private jets to take college students in his area from where they live to popular spring break destinations. This effort actually did well, and he was making so much money working from home that he dropped out of the University of Maryland, College Park.

His next venture was publishing Campus USA, a national magazine designed especially for college students. It generated subscribers as well as profitable sponsors. Part of this effort came with support from Mortimer Zuckerman, publisher of U.S. News and World Report. This effort folded after three years but it did help Snyder create some excellent connections in the publishing and advertising field.

Success in this field led to a partnership between Snyder and his sister Michele. Snyder Communications, founded in 1985, looked for new ways to allow advertisers to get their brand noticed, starting with wallboards, which area static ads positioned in prominent areas. More and more businesses became excited by wallboards, and the family advertising firm also began helping businesses hand out samples, which also was lucrative. Soon the company expanded into many media services such as direct marketing and database marketing, and continued to find prominent ways for client brands to be seen.

The company went public in 1996, and Dan Snyder became the youngest CEO of a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. By 2000, there was more than 12,000 employees world-wide. That same year, French media company Havas purchased Snyder Communications for $2.3 billion, leaving Snyder with a nice portion.

Today, he is founder and chairman emeritus of inVentv Health and founder and managing member of the board of Red Zebra Broadcasting. This company owns a variety of radio stations in the D.C. area that carry, among other things, Redskin games.

Redskins effort

The effort to buy the team was definitely complicated but worked out well for Snyder in the end.

The team only had two previous owners, George Preston Marshall, who was involved with the team from 1932 to 1969. He was followed by Jack Kent Cole, who ran the team from 1969 to his death in 1997. Cooke’s will created a foundation to offer scholarships, and he also gave $10 million to his son John Kent Cooke, but didn’t directly pass team ownership to him.

What happened then was competing proposals, a blind auction and the creation of various financial entities all interested in ownership of the franchise.

Initially, John Kent Cooke felt that he should receive the team to continue family ownership and found support from the NFL, but he eventually was outbid by the other offers for the team. As many as 10 entities presented bids, including owners of other sports teams and successful entrepreneurs such as Daniel Snyder. He created a partnership with Howard Milstein, a real estate investor, and offered $800 million. However, there were concerns about debt. Later, Snyder put together his own deal which was eventually approved by the NFL and Cooke’s trustees.