Tom Kalinske is Executive Chairman of Global Education Learning and one of the founders of the company. GEL is involved in acquiring education companies in China focused on improving education for young children 2-7. Tom is on the Board & heads the Audit Committee of Cambium Learning Group (ABCD: NASDAQ), an education company supplying curriculum for kids with special needs. He is also Vice Chairman of Leapfrog (LF: NYSE). From 2004 to June 2006 he served as CEO/Chairman, and he also served as LF’s CEO/Chairman 1997-2002.
Tom Kalinske joined Knowledge Universe (KU) at its founding in 1996 as its President and CEO. With an initial funding of $500 Million, KU has been the parent of a diverse group of Educational operating companies. By 2004 the KU Companies, i.e. LeapFrog, K-12 (NASDAQ: LRN) , Knowledge Begginings (largest Chain of 3500 Preschools in world), SpringPlc, Vistage, and many others; had achieved revenues of over $2 Billion. Among the core areas addressed by the over 30 Knowledge Universe Companies were early childhood education; educational products, content, and software; charter schools; K-12 curriculum; testing and assessment.
Previously, from 1990-96, Mr. Kalinske was president and CEO of Sega of America, Inc. Under his leadership, the market value of Sega grew from under $2 Billion to over $5 Billion. A book “Console Wars”, by Blake Harris tells the story of how Nintendo had a 98% share of market in 1990, but Sega, under Tom’s leadership, passed Nintendo in Share of Market by 1993. A documentary film has been shot and Seth Rogin, Evan Goldberg, and Scott Rudin (Money Ball, Social Network, Captain Phillips) have purchased the feature film rights.
From 1987 to 1990, Mr. Kalinske served as President and CEO of Universal Matchbox Group (NYSE), and was responsible for restructuring the company, returning the company to profitability, when it was then acquired by Tyco.
Prior to that, he served as President and Co-CEO of Mattel. Tom has been credited with reviving the Barbie business, building the Barbie and Hot Wheels Brands, introducing He-Man Masters of the Universe, and developing the He-Man and She-Ra TV series. While in senior management positions at Mattel, total revenues grew from $188 million in 1972 to $1.5 billion in 1987 when he left the company.
Tom started his business career at a special unit of JWT that specialized in introducing new products; some of those products were Chunk King Frozen Eggrolls and Flintstones Vitamins.
Tom also serves on the Board of Directors of Genyous Omnitura, a cancer drug development company, the Board of Advisors of the University Of Arizona School Of Business, serves on the Board of the University of Wisconsin Center for Education Products, and is an Emeritus Member of the University Of Wisconsin School Of Business Advisors. Previously he served on the Board of Blackboard (BBBB: NYSE), and on its audit committee, advising on the sale of BBBB to Providence PE in 2011. He is past Chairman of the Board of Spring Group, PLC; past Chairman of the Toy Industry Association; is a past trustee of the RAND Corporation’s Institute on Education and Training; the National Education Association (NEA) Foundation; and the Keys School Board. He is also one of 16 living members of the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, whose roster includes Walt Disney, George Lucas, Jim Henson, Ruth & Elliott Handler (founders of Mattel), and Merrill Hassenfield (founder of Hasbro), to name a few. Tom was named “Man of the Year” by the Starlight Foundation, The NY Boy Scouts of America, the Video Software Dealers Association, was named a “Distinguished Fellow” by the UW Business Consortium, and has been deeply involved in many children’s charities.
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.
He and his wife Karen have 6 children and live in Atherton California.