Tom Kalinske is currently Executive Chairman of Global Education Learning, a start-up, dedicated to teaching English and other subjects to children in Asia via on-line activities, DVD’s, and printed books/curriculum. He is also Chairman of Gazillion Entertainment, and Heads the Audit Committee at Cambium Learning group (NASDAQ: ABCD). From 2004 to June 2006 he served as Leapfrog’s CEO/Chairman, and he also served as CEO/Chairman 1997-2002. Tom has been part of LeapFrog since orchestrating the investment in it by Knowledge Universe in 1997, helping LF grow from a start-up specialty toy company to the largest Educational Toy Company in the world, taking it public on the NYSE in 2002, expanding to International Markets, founding it’s School Products Division in 2003, and achieving total revenue of $650 Million by 2004; merging it with V-Tech in 2016.
Tom Kalinske joined Knowledge Universe (KU) at its founding in 1996 as its President and on its Board of Directors. With an initial funding of $500Million, KU has been the parent of a diverse group of Educational operating companies with a common theme of helping individuals and businesses to realize their full potential by using technology to improve education. By 2004 the KU Companies had achieved revenues of over $2.0 Billion. Among the core areas addressed by the over 30 Knowledge Universe Companies are early childhood education; educational products, content, and software; charter schools; K-12 curriculum; workforce performance solutions; I.T. Training; Strategic, Economic, Human Resources and Technology Consulting; testing and assessment; staffing. Mr. Kalinske has been involved in the acquisition or start-up of many of these companies and has served on the Board of several, advising them on strategy, management, marketing and financial matters. The Board of KU decided to distribute the assets of the KU Companies back to the investors and management in late 2005. Some of the KU Companies were: LeapFrog Inc. (LF), Spring Plc. (an I.T. Training Company)., Nobel Learning (NLCI), U-Next ( an early on-line MBA program where every professor had a Nobel Prize), Teacher Universe ( dedicated to help teachers use technology in classrooms effectively), Knowledge Beginnings (became the largest chain of preschools with 3500 centers in the world, own KinderCare, Child Discovery , Bumblebee and many others), K-12 (LRN) (provides curriculum to home schoolers and charter schools), Productivity Point International (technology consulting), and Vistage International (formerly TEC – helps small business owners improve operations ).
Previously, from 1990-96, Mr. Kalinske was president and CEO of Sega of America, Inc. Under his leadership, Sega’s share of the then $4 billion U.S. interactive entertainment (Video Game) market grew from under 10% to over 50% by 1994, passing Nintendo the then market leader. SOA became the largest US based developer of entertainment software, developed the Sonic the Hedgehog Brand, Games, Syndicated and Network TV Shows, and developed numerous award winning sports, action, and strategy role playing software titles. He served on the Entertainment Software Association Board, initiated the first video game rating system (ESRB), and started the E-3 Industry Show, after deciding the CES no longer served the video game industry well. During his tenure the market value of Sega grew from under $2 Billion to over $5 Billion. Recently a book, Console Wars by Harper Collins has chronicled Tom’s strategies and fight against Nintendo 1990-96, it has been turned into a 90 minute documentary film that stars Tom, which will be released this summer, and Seth Rogan, and Evan Goldberg are adapting a feature film from the book, Scott Rudin (Producer of Moneyball, Social Network, Captain Phillips, Grand Budapest Hotel, and many others) has agreed to produce it, Sony will distribute it scheduled for late 2016 early 2017
From 1987 to 1990, Mr. Kalinske served as President and CEO of Universal Matchbox Group (NYSE), and was responsible for restructuring the company, rebuilding the Matchbox Brand, returning the company to profitability, when it was then acquired by Tyco.
Prior to that, he served as President and Co-CEO of Mattel, where he managed the building of the Barbie Brand from approximately $42 million in 1973 to more than $550 million, building Hot Wheels to a $100 million business, entering the preschool toy market, developing the He-Man Masters of the Universe Line, the Princess of Power, Rainbow Brite, and many other successful toy lines and TV shows. He also emphasized the building of business outside the US, and increased Mattel’s international business to 40% of Mattel’s revenue. Tom was involved in starting the Mattel Foundation which is dedicated to improving children’s health and has funded in large part the Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA. While in senior management positions at Mattel, total revenues grew from $188 million in 1972 to $1.3 billion in 1987 when he left the company.
Mr. Kalinske joined the Board of Cambium Learning Group (ABCD:NASDAQ) in 2010, CLG develops curriculum for children with “special needs” for the Public school market, some of its brands are Voyager, Sopris, DIBELS, Learning A to Z, Math 123, Gizmos, and Explore Learning. Tom also serves on CLG’s audit committee, and has helped the company transition from all print to digital content. He also served on the Board of Blackboard Inc., a University and K-12 enterprise software applications company, (NASDAQ: BBBB) until its sale to Providence PE in 2011. Tom also serves on the Board of Directors of Genyous Omnitura a Cancer drug development company, the National Board of Advisors of the University of Arizona School Of Business, and is an Emeritus Member of the University Of Wisconsin School Of Business Advisors. He is past Chairman of the Board of Spring Group, PLC; the Toy Industry Association; is a past trustee of the RAND Corporation’s Institute on Education and Training; the Milken Family Foundation; The National Education Association (NEA) Foundation where he was a board member for 10 years; and the Keys School Board in Palo Alto, where he served for 13 years. Through these businesses and foundations, and the local schools in his area, Mr. Kalinske has been very involved in helping to improve K-12 education. He has been honored to receive the NYC Boy Scout’s Man of the Year award, the Video and Software Dealers Man of the Year award, the Starlight Foundation Man of the Year Award, was named a “Distinguished Fellow” by the University of Wisconsin Business Consortium, and is one of 18 living Americans to receive the prestigious Toy Industry Hall of Fame award. Whose members include Walt Disney, George Lucas, Jim Henson, Jim Lassiter (of Pixar fame), Merrill Hassenfeld (founder of Hasbro), and Ruth & Elliott Handler (Founders of Mattel), to name a few. Tom has been a long time member of the Los Angeles and S.F. Nor-Cal Chapters of YPO and WPO.
Mr. Kalinske is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. He earned an MBA from the University of Arizona, and attended the Harvard Business School’s Strategic Management Program. Tom served honorably in the US Army as an NCO in The 826 Military Intelligence.
He is married to the former actress Karen Panitz; they have six children, and reside in Northern California.