Jimmy’s Blog

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From AOL to Kiswe

In early ’95, while I was working for HTS (the regional sports network that aired games primarily from the Bullets, Capitals and Orioles) as the Advertising Manager, I received a call from a friend who was going to work for a technology company in Tysons Corner called America Online, known as AOL. They were launching a Sports Channel (’95 was the first year that a number of sports internet sites first launched). During my initial interviews with Randy Dean (channel GM) and Anne Levy (business development lead and friend who first contacted me about AOL), we hit it off immediately. And, I’ll never forget the line that Randy told me, “…just like Roone Arledge was an innovator with broadcasting sports on TV, we have the chance to be the innovators of Sports content on the internet.” That was the line that hooked me and I joined the AOL Sports team in Spring ’95 in a business development / account management role.

We had a terrific team in place and along with, we were ranked one of the top two sports sites in the mid to late 90’s. It was the like the Wild West back then, but our team developed and launched a number of innovative concepts. This included the first real-time scoreboard (which had a huge impact on Fantasy Sports and where people went first to access the latest in scores and stats), community tools (now called social media) for their favorite teams and athletes (live chat rooms, message boards, photo downloads), athlete journals (now referred to as blogs), cyber-casts of MLB and NFL games, electronic balloting (NFL Pro Bowl), and so much more.

I vividly recall in June ’95, we were doing our first cyber-cast at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and after the 2nd inning, Tom Davis of HTS interviewed our AOL President, Ted Leonsis. Ted loved the interview and then turned to me and said, “you left them to joins us? What were you thinking?” I immediately responded, “I believed your hype about the Internet!” Well, it was by far the best career move I ever made. I thought I might work there for a few years when I started but I ended working there for 14 years and left in the Spring ’09.

It’s rare to have the opportunity to work for one of the most innovative companies the world. AOL introduced many people to email, instant messaging, e-commerce, browsing the internet, etc. It was a magical place full of tremendous people. As they say, “people make the place.”In ’13, I had the opportunity to partner with Jeong Kim and Wim Sweldens to launch Kiswe Mobile. At the time, most content owners delivered passive content to interactive audiences. We saw the opportunity to deliver interactive content to interactive audiences — with a focus on mobile devices.

It’s been a grind and the first few years were not easy. I’d never been involved with a start-up before — and our technology was ahead of its time. But, the past couple of years, we’ve really hit our stride. And, our cloud-based, remote production is resonating strongly in the market (especially during this COVID period). We are, in essence, a “production truck in the cloud.” We’ve added 40+ partners this year, including many of the biggest sports leagues and broadcasting companies in the world — in the US, Asia, Europe and South America. Although we’ve been sports-focused, we’re now doing much more work in the music space, including partnering with BTS to create the largest digital music concert in history.

So, I feel extremely fortunate and grateful to have worked for AOL and for working now with Kiswe. Developing world-class innovative technologies and win-win strategic partnerships were two of the keys to the global growth of AOL and its key to the global growth of Kiswe. And, similarly to AOL, it’s the people at Kiswe that make the difference. Our 55 employees are all working remotely from NY, NJ, DC, Korea, Belgium, England and Singapore. We haven’t seen each other since early March — yet, we’re working so well together as a team in a virtual environment.I get messages from time to time asking me what I’m up … so just thought I’d spell it out. My full-time, day job is Kiswe, my part-time, evening job is teaching at Georgetown … and a majority of my free time is focused on mentoring minority and first-generation college students. Life can be about balance and about making a difference — and that’s what I’ll continue to focus on in the coming years.

Digital Revolution — from Internet to Mobile — 20 years later

I regard 1995 as the year that Sports on the Internet launched and initially took off in popularity.  So, as we celebrate our 20th year, I’ve been thinking back to the digital revolution in Sports … from the internet in the mid 90’s to the mobile space now.  A few of my students at Georgetown Univ have asked me what it was like “back in the day” — so I’m doing a write-up of my personal experiences over the past two decades.

Back in early ’94, I left the radio industry to go work for Home Team Sports (now Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic).  Terry Chili hired me as an Advertising Manager.   The primary role of our team was to develop, implement and execute the marketing plans for this regional sports network serving a 6-state region.  Our primary partners were the Washington Bullets (before they became the Wizards), Washington Capitals and Baltimore Orioles.

We marketed via the traditional marketing channels, re cable TV, print, radio, billboards, bill stuffers, etc.  But, in the summer of ’94, I attended a ProMax conference in New Orleans and watched a presentation from an executive from AOL — the topic was interactive news.  The premise that the consumer doesn’t just read the news but can interact via posting messages, looking at photos and videos, etc.  That concept intrigued me and I started thinking how it might apply to Sports.

Then a short while later, one of our consultants, Jeff Grimshaw (a former Turner Sports promotion whiz), scheduled our HTS team to go meet with Bell Atlantic (they were one of the seven Baby Bells after the AT&T was forced to break out into regional companies).  I recall Mitch Praver and Anne Levy gave us a terrific presentation about “interactive TV.”  In essence, one could watch numerous cameras angles (not just the one director’s shot) from a standard TV production truck, order food online, shop and buy clothes online, buy advance movie tickets, etc.

This was a very intriguing proposition — I thought it’d be great if we could offer these services to our fans watching the Baltimore Orioles games via HTS and O’s TV throughout the region.   Also, at that time, Time Warner was also testing the “world’s first interactive TV network” in Orlando, Florida (this would become more relevant personally at the end of the decade).

We did not enter a partnership with Bell Atlantic but I made connections that would change my professional life.

I received a call from Anne Levy in early ’95 — inquiring if I might be interested in working for an innovative technology company based in Vienna, Virginia.  Although I very much enjoyed working for a regional sports network, I was very intrigued with this new online / internet sector that was being developed.

Anne had left Bell Atlantic and joined America Online (AOL) in early ’95.  I went there to interview with Anne and the GM, Sports — Randy Dean.  The three of us completely hit it off.  So, although I was only at HTS for over a year, I left in the Spring ’95 to join the AOL Sports team.  At that time, I thought I’d work for AOL for 3 – 4 years and then I could launch my own business — as a sports marketer with experience in PR, radio, TV and internet.  I had no idea AOL would become a global brand in the coming years.

I ended up staying at AOL for 14 years.  It was an incredible and invigorating run.  I made professional and personal contacts that have changed my life in such a positive manner.  For that, I’m eternally grateful.  I have many friends to thank – including the ones mentioned in this blog.

In ’01, AOL and Time Warner merged and AOL Time Warner was the largest media company in the world.  And, one of the driving forces to the deal was Jerry Levin, Time Warner’s Chairman, who wanted to leverage the internet and interactivity to drive Time Warner’s various business units (Time Inc, HBO, Turner Broadcasting, Time Warner Cable, Warner Brother Studios, etc).   He saw the vision back during the Time Warner’s trials in Orlando that interactivity would have a major impact in media.

I left AOL in ’09 — to start a consulting business focused on digital sports — and I also taught Sports courses full-time at Georgetown University.  The combination of consulting, teaching and mentoring was nearly perfect.

But, in the fall of ’13, I had a couple of meetings with the brilliant technology visionary, Jeong Kim.  Jeong sold his first company, Yurie Systems, to Lucent, for over $1.1 billion in ’98 — making him one of Washington, DC’s first tech superstars.  He also become one of Ted Leonsis’ partners with the Washington Wizards, Capitals, Mystics and Verizon Center.  Then, in ’05, he became the President of the legendary Bell Labs.

Jeong introduced me to his good friend, Wim Sweldens, another technology visionary who ran the Wireless and Ventures groups for Bell Lab’s parent company, Alcatel-Lucent.  They built that into a global, $4 billion business — building out mobile networks all over the world.

The three of us brainstormed and we decided to start a mobile platform business focused on building a more interactive, personalized and live sports and entertainment experience.  Thus, Kiswe (we took the first two letters from Jeong’s last name the first three letters from Wim’s last name) was officially launched on Dec 1, 2013.

As we fast forward to Feb ’15, it’s been an invigorating 15 months as we are developing for the mobile space what we built out for the internet sports space in the mid 90’s to early 00’s.  There are a lot of similarities.  But, there’s no doubt that we will be able to add value to sports leagues, teams, association, brands and agencies globally.  We will develop incremental revenue streams by leveraging innovative, world-class technologies.

Ironically, some of our key offerings, including the ability to switch and watch multiple camera angles, create interactive advertising, offering the ability to touch the screen and order e-commerce, fantasy sports / gamification, etc are what we first observed during the Bell Atlantic and Time Warner interactive TV test trials over 20 years ago.  What was just once a dreams in the minds of technology visionaries is now a reality.  And, now we are focused on making this available globally on mobile platforms.

With over 2.5 – 3 billion mobile devices globally — and with Sports being among the most popular content categories, I’m excited that Kiswe Mobile will stake a leadership position in the Mobile Sports space — similarly to how AOL Sports did so in the 90’s.

AOL’s former CEO, Bob Pittman, used to always tell us “I’ve seen this movie before.”  This comes from his days of co-founding MTV (and sharing those experiences into developing AOL into a global brand).  I now truly can relate.  It happened to the internet in the 90’s — and it’s happening in mobile right now.  Global, Mobile and Social.

WWE – 1st Sport to embrace Social Media

Was the World Wrestling Federation the first “sport” to embrace social media?   Were they the first sports organization to leverage social media in smart, strategic ways to grow the popularity of its’ brand and of its’ athletes?

I consider ’95 to be the first year of the Digital (internet) Sports Revolution.  That was the year that many of the sports internet sites and league sites launched.  So, as we approach the 20th anniversary next year, it made me think back to the early days of AOL Sports.  I started at AOL Sports in the Spring ’95 in a business development / account management role (thanks to Randy Dean and Anne Levy).

At that time, our business model was straightforward.  AOL members paid $9.95 a month for 10 hours of usage and then an additional $2.95 per hour of usage.  Our content partners, which were called “information providers,” were paid a revenue share, somewhere in the 10 – 20% range of the total monthly usage in their specific area.  So, our task was to create content that the members would like and would keep coming back to use on a regular basis.

Our Sports team had a number of other business development folks at AOL scoff at us for signing the WWF (before they changed to WWE) to a content deal.  But, in hindsight, it was a brilliant deal and partnership.  Why?  Because this was before the internet took off — at the time, WWE fans could not find their content in traditional media, re newspapers (NY Times, USA Today); radio; print (Sports Illustrated); broadcast TV (only found on cable), etc.   So, what we ended up doing is proving the WWE fans 24 x 7 access to their favorite stars — not just the wrestlers, but also the managers.

Our leaders at AOL, Steve Case and Ted Leonsis, used to stress to us the power of “community.”  And that’s what our AOL Sports did in helping create an enormously popular WWE content area on AOL Sports.   We used the community tools and integrated it with WWE content.   Our “Grandstand” message boards were in a fact a pre-cursor to the now popular Sports blog sites; AOL Instant Messenger was the pre-cursor to Twitter; fans loved to email and receive photos of their favorite wrestlers and managers (Instagram); we also created short videos of the wrestlers (Vine); we leveraged the NTN trivia machine to create a wildly popular WWE Trivia Game; we also instituted polling so members could vote on their favorites.

The other phenomenon were the chat rooms on AOL Sports — we would watch the chat rooms start to fill up and explode every day after 3pm.  Why?  Because kids were getting home from school and going to the chat rooms to talk about their favorite heroes.  And, across the whole service, we had “AOL Live,” where members could ask questions and interact with world-famous celebrities.  Trust me – we had many famous athletes from the glamour sports do AOL Live Chats but none of them came close the numbers generated when a WWE wrestler would do a live chat.  It was incredible to witness.

Btw, when I mention managers, the one that stands out is Sunny.  She quickly became very popular with AOL members – and her photos made her the most downloadable female celebrity on AOL in that first year.

This WWE on AOL was also a great example of how an online presence and its active community (now labeled social media) drove people to watch the WWE shows on the cable networks — helping them become the most popular and watched shows on basic cable in the mid to late 90’s.  That’s a powerful example of cross-promotion.

So, as we approach the 20th anniversary of Digital Sports – and as I think back to Year 1 of AOL Sports, the WWE on AOL Sports clearly stands out as a great success story — and the first sport to thoroughly embrace the popular community tools – which are now called Social Media.  So, perhaps the WWE was the first sport to fully embrace social media and help its grow immensely in popularity.  It will be interesting to follow how they continue to leverage social media – especially since they now have their own TV network.



Why I love baseball – bat boys

I love that baseball has bat boys. Whatever sport allows a youngster to be so close to the action. Yes, there are water boys and ball boys in other sports but you’re not as consistently close to the action.

I also have great memories of being a bat boy on older brother’s baseball teams when I was a young kid. My brother is three years older and he played on some good teams when we were growing up in Japan. And, there was that one special memory created when the team was one player short at the beginning of the game. So, they let me pinch-hit – and I drew a walk. What a thrill at that time.

And, of course, who can ever forget the classic time that Dusty Baker’s (the manager) young son was a bat boy and headed toward the plate when there was a play at home plate? Fortunately, a Giant, I believe JT Snow, scooped him away and he avoided getting hit and hurt.

Bat boys – what a great tradition. And, another reason that I love baseball.

Why I Love Baseball – Friendships

One of the most enjoyable things about having a baseball team in town is attending the games with your friends.  Ever since the Nationals came to DC, my friends and I have been season ticket holders.  81 games is a lot of games – and it can get expensive – so we wisely share amongst a core group of friends.

I share the Nats with a group of very good friends — Kurt, Ross, “Breezy” and Todd.  Kurt, one of my closest friends, is by far are most ambitious and ardent supporter of the Nats.   When he doesn’t use our tickets, he goes to additional games.  He must attend 35 – 40 games a year – plus he goes to support the Class A team in Potomac, VA.

After not having a MLB team in town for so long, it’s great to have MLB here at least 81 games a year.  And, I honestly don’t care who they’re playing — I’m just happy to have baseball in town.  I can watch any team play the Nats and I’m content.  More importantly, it’s wonderful to go to games with your good friends.  The game has its own pace — and we certainly have our routings — maybe getting a burger from Shake Shack, chili cheese dogs from Ben’s Chili Bowl, nachos from Hard Times Cafe, etc.  And, there’s not many better things than a very cold beer on a hot and humid day.

In addition to attending games with good friends, I also regularly take mentees and / or students to games.  It’s a great way to watch the game but also to talk about life, career, hobbies, etc.   And, it’s also fun to teach the younger generation about the game of baseball.  There’s strategy that goes into every pitch.  Some complain that the game is boring or slow-paced – but that’s because they don’t understand what is happening with every single pitch.

It’s also a lot of fun to attend games with friends in various cities.  There’s nothing like the passion and intensity of the baseball fans in NY, Boston and Philly.   St Louis probably is the best baseball city in the US – and the fans are the nicest people.   The LA Dodgers scene is always entertaining and interesting.  And, it was a great thrill to attend my first-ever game at the history Wrigley Field last summer with another one of my close friends, TK.

Thank you, baseball, for being in our lives.  My friends are grateful.  Oh, and it’s good when your favorite team is in 1st place.  Let’s go, Nats!



Why I Love Baseball – Cal Ripken

As noted in yesterday’s blog, those of us in Washington, DC didn’t have our own MLB team for over 30 years.  But, many of us became fans of the Baltimore Orioles.  The O’s played the game the right way, or as they called it – “the Orioles way.”  I had lots of Orioles players I liked but my two all-time favorites are Cal Ripken, Jr and Eddie Murray.  I will focus this piece on Cal since he made such a huge impact on the game of baseball.

My first memories of Cal are of a tall, skinny shortstop who’s father was one of the O’s coaches and looked like a honored Marine veteran.  He often threw the ball sidearm from shortstop.  And, the line drives screamed off his bat.  And, the most vivid memory was of Cal catching the line drive that clinched the O’s beating the Phillies in the ’83 World Series.   Those were the glory years.

Of course, Cal went on to break one of the all-time greatest records in sports history – the consecutive games streak that had previously been held by the legendary “Iron Horse,” Lou Gehrig.

What stands out to me is that Cal always seemed to play the game the right way.   He respected the game.  He was not all flash and dash — like some NFL players who do crazy celebrations after making a mere first down in a meaningless game.  When I think of current players, I think of guys like Derek Jeter and Jason Werth — who play the game with tradition and honor.

My all-time favorite memory of Cal took place in Sept ’95.  At that time, AOL Sports was in its first year.  Internet sports sites were new and we were looking for innovative ways to bring sports programming to the internet.  One of the new things we did that summer was lug our laptop in the broadcasters booth — interact with AOL members via live chat rooms — run Instant Polling so fans can vote on plays — and relay questions from fans to the broadcasters, who would answer them directly on-air.  Mel Proctor was the play-by-play announcer and he did a great job.  Jody Shapiro and Bill Brown were running the network, Home Team Sports, and they welcomed us with open arms.

They allowed us to be in the broadcasters booth the night that Cal Ripken broke the consecutive games streak.  I remember it was already an electric night since a historic record was going to be broken.  But, President Clinton also happened to be there, which added to the electricity.   I remember typing away as fast I could as my colleagues, Randy Dean and Anne Levy, and I type the ongoing action on the field as well as fielded questions from fans.

Once the game was official in the 5th inning, the special, unscripted celebration started – where Cal spontaneously jogged around the entire field – shaking and slapping hands with fans.  I stopped typing and went to the broadcast booth to watch the celebration.  Tears were streaming down my face — I had goose bumps.  It was a moment I’ll never forget.

Many people probably don’t recall or realize the baseball was broken – they had gone on an ugly strike the year before.  But, the one player who stood out — who shook hands with fans and signed autographs for hours was Cal Ripken, Jr.  He helped start the healing process.  And, I’m sure the outpouring of affection from fans that special night in Sept ’95 was because he so instrumental to helping resurrect the popularity of the national pastime.

Thank you, Cal Ripken, for being such an important player — and person.  You respected the game.  And, you are one of our national heroes.


Why I Love Baseball – Fathers and Sons

I stopped blogging a while ago but a couple of former students asked me to start back up. So here’s my first blog since last Fall. A few years ago I blogged for nearly 30 days straight about one subject – why I love Washington, DC. I think I’ll try the same thing – but this time I’ll focus on baseball.

Why I love baseball? Because it’s the best sport for “fathers and sons.” Back in the 70’s, the Washington Senators moved to Texas. That meant there was no professional baseball team in DC, a great sports city, for over 30 years. It wasn’t until the Washington Nationals came into existence in ’05 that the Nation’s Capital once again had a MLB team.

But, in a more personal manner, here’s a story about me and my father. We lived in Japan for most of my youth — and moved to the Washington, DC area when I was 16 years. My father, brother and I were huge sports fans — the Redskins, Bullets, Capitals, Hoyas, Terps, etc. But, there was no baseball team here for us to root for or to attend games in person.

I remember when I was 14 years old, our family was visiting friends in Texas when we attended a Rangers game. In about the 7th inning, when I went to get a “grand slam hot dog,” there a was a foul ball hit into the stands. The ball was headed toward my father and brother. Unfortunately, they didn’t catch the ball and it spun away to another fan.

As a kid, catching a foul ball is a dream.

So, after we moved back to DC, there were no baseball games to attend. And, that dream might not ever come true.

Then, in ’05, the Nats came into existence and played their games at RFK Stadium. In August of that season, my father, brother and I went to a Saturday afternoon game between the Nationals and the Cardinals (my brother’s favorite team).

At that time, my father’s health had started to decline. But, he was still excited to attend the game. In the 3rd inning, although it was a day game, my father nodded off during the game.  I said to my brother – let’s try to stay till until at least the 5th inning (since this a wonderful experience to be able to attend a live ball game in DC with our father in DC after not having a team for over 30 years).

The game was played at a brisk pace and my father woke up from his short nap. A couple of innings later, a foul ball was hit back behind home plate into the upper deck area. Our seats were behind home plate in the lower section. As the ball was hit, my brother mentioned we might have a shot at it. But, I didn’t think so it was hit into the upper deck. But, miraculously, just as it had done in Texas way back then, the ball spun out of the deck back into the lower deck — where my father caught the ball against his chest.  And he raised his right arm with the ball and couldn’t stop smiling.   The fans sitting around us applauded my father.

I thought to myself — wow, this is incredible. We finally have a baseball team in DC; and we get to attend the game with our father.  I knew right then and there that this was a lifetime memory being created — one that I’ll always cherish.

Then, a couple of years later, in the Spring ’08, I delivered the eulogy at my father’s memorial service at Ft Myer, VA. As I was writing the speech, I thought of three specific memories that stood out — attending the “Three Tenors” concert with my father (he loved opera music), going to Paris with my father and brother, especially to a great night at a wonderful jazz joint in Saint Germain (he loved jazz music), and then the baseball game.

I had the ball in my suit pocket as I delivered the eulogy.

So, on the saddest and most difficult day of my life, it was these memories that helped keep me strong (along with the great support from family and friends).

This is why I love baseball. It’s about “fathers and sons.”

Mentees and Students: Thank you

Thanksgiving Day is always my favorite holiday of the year.  Yes, I like Christmas, Fourth of July, Martin Luther King Day and all of the other holidays too.  But, this is my favorite holiday since it’s a day of personal reflection.  Each year, I blog about the people that are important to me — my family (here in the US and in Japan) and friends know how much they mean to me.  I try to express my sentiments regularly to them.  But, this year, my Thanksgiving blog is dedicated to my mentees and students.

For those that know me, they understand that mentoring, community service, “giving back” and “paying it forward” are important principles in my life.   I have been fortunate to learn from mentors, wonderful people such as Ted Leonsis and Mario Morino, about the importance of helping others.  Both are first-generation college graduates who went on to achieve great successes in life.  And, they’ve clearly shown me the way in “paying it forward.”

I frequently post on my social networking platforms pictures and words about my mentees and students.  The primary reason I do that is because it helps raise the visibility of giving back and it hopefully encourages others to also get involved in community service and mentoring.

I won’t try to list all of my mentees since the list is long — and I don’t want to leave out any names.  But, they know who they are.  Some of the names you see on my FB, Twitter and Instagram feeds.  But, this list goes back to about ’93 or ’94.

I’m now also in my 9th year of teaching at Georgetown University.  So, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of students I’ve taught over the years — and a number of them are also mentees.  I’m so very proud of them.  They humble me with their selfless dedication and desire to help others.  I’ve gotten even more deeply involved in the past two years — with a focus on first-generation college students and / or students of color (African-American, Latino and Asian) — at Georgetown.  I love the interaction with the students.  In particular, it’s terrific to meet them as freshman and sophomores and to see them flourish and grow.  One of my favorites days of the year is Graduation Day — especially meeting their parents and siblings.

Lastly, a couple of people have asked me recently if I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted to in life.  My honest answer is the one hole in my life is I have not yet had my own children.  But, I’ve filled that hole in a big way — by mentoring dozens and dozens of outstanding young men and women.  I know in my heart that I’m able to positively impact and influence the lives of others — to help them get to college, graduate from college and start working in a career where they will be able to achieve success.   If I had my own children, I would not have as much time to dedicate to the mentees.

Mentoring is not a one-way street.  It’s not the mentees that are the only ones that benefit.  This is a two-way street — the mentor receives so much in return.  In fact, I make the argument that I’m getting back more than I’m giving.  And, I try to pass on this important message to others — to get involved in one capacity or other to help those that may need the help or just a little nudge to back on the right track.  So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I’m forever grateful to my mentees and students.  You all give me great pride and you inspire every single day of the year.  I am grateful 365 days a year for my family of students and mentees.  So, on this day of thanks, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such an important and integral part of my life.

“Paying It Forward”

I spoke to a group of undergraduate students at Georgetown University earlier this week about “Personal Branding.”  During my discussion, I talked about the importance of mentoring and “giving back.”  Well, I’ve received a number of outstanding emails from these students — I know we’ve made a strong connection.  And, I believe my list of mentees will continue to increase.  But, that’s good — it’s all about “Paying It Forward.”  A couple of students asked about what drives me to help others.  It made me think of an interview I did with Asian Fortune Magazine back in ’09.  The article is over 4 years old — and there are numerous updates but I believe the article captures what influences me and why it’s important to mentor and “to give back.”  So, I’m going to post this article on my blog and social media feeds.  (As an fyi, I left AOL in ’09; I have a strategic advisory business focused on Sports; and I’m now in my 9th year of teaching at Georgetown).  

Jimmy Lynn, Leading AOL’s Diversity Partnerships 

By: Jennie L. Ilustre 


Jimmy Lynn’s title is Vice-President for Diversity Partnerships and Strategic Relationships at AOL, where he manages employee affinity networks and non-profit partnerships.

Jimmy, whose late father was Irish-American father and whose mother is of Japanese descent, is aware through his work and civic activities that diversity brings strength to a nation. He also noted an interesting trend in the country.

He said: “There’s a major shift occurring demographically in the US. The Asian, Hispanic and African-American demographic groups are continuing to grow in size. There are more and more people now from mixed ethnic backgrounds. And many of our leaders and role models, such as President Obama and Tiger Woods, are of multi-ethnic backgrounds.”

Those who know Jimmy describe him as a leader and role model. Remarked Opus8 Inc. Chief Executive Officer S. Tien Wong: “Jimmy is passionate about doing the very best job he can, whether it’s negotiating a multi-million dollar marquee sports contract for AOL, or mentoring an underprivileged child. His great love of people contributes to his passion.”

He has worked with Jimmy for seven years on philanthropic causes. “He’s not doing this kind of work for glory or fame, or ego purposes. He does it because for him, giving back is the right thing to do.”

“Jimmy is very active in the philanthropic world, especially toward helping low-income children in D.C.,” said Ban Tran, VP-Senior Financial Advisor, PIA Program Portfolio and manager, Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management. “He spends time with the children–mentoring them and monitoring their progress until they become a contributing member in the community.”

At a recent Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund community reception, Jimmy pointed out, “A person can do any of four things in terms of giving back–donate time, donate money, donate time and money, or do nothing.”

In philanthropy, mentoring and community service, he said he was “blessed to have two incredible mentors–Ted Leonsis, Vice-Chair Emeritus for AOL and the Capitals majority owner, and Mario Morino, founder of Venture Philanthropy Partners and the person regarded as the ‘Godfather of Philanthropy’ in the D.C. region.”

Hoop Dreams Scholarship Fund Founder & President Susie Kay said Jimmy’s work with them as a board director “is the perfect embodiment of this work.” Jimmy connects people, introducing successful people to his students, his work with them, and their struggles to improve themselves though education, life skills and networking.

She added: “He is truly a social entrepreneur. His passions come out with the groups he commits himself to ‘head and heart first’–and he also sees the corporate value in positioning this work so his business can show this impact. It is why America Online has been such a wonderfully engaged corporate citizen in the Washington, D.C. area.”


AOL Executive

Jimmy has a B.A. in Communications and an MBA in Marketing from American University in Washington, D.C. In 1995, he started at AOL as a manager, working in business development and account management for its Sports Channel. He became a director, then served as Vice-President for AOL Sports from 1995-2006.

From September 2006 to May last year, Jimmy was the Executive Sponsor for AOL’s “Asian Interest Group,” with some 250 to 300 AOL employees as members. His main task was to mentor and advise the group’s leadership team.

As VP for AOL Sports, he led a team in managing strategic sports partnerships for AOL. Among these are such major names as the NFL, NBA, NASCAR, MLB, NHL, NFLPA, WNBA, Sports Illustrated, ABC Sports, HBO Sports and Turner Sports.

As a child growing up in military bases ((his father was lieutenant colonel in the Army), Jimmy played baseball, basketball and football. He was born at Ft. Belvoir’s DeWitt Army Hospital. His family moved to Japan, where Jimmy lived till he returned to Metro D.C. at age 16.

Working in Sports and Entertainment, he has partial or full season tickets to the Capitals, Nationals, Wizards and Hoyas. He has been to over 10 Super Bowls as well as a number of NBA All-Star Games and NBA Finals, World Series and MLB All-Star Games, Daytona 500, NHL Stanley Cup Finals and Olympics and World Cup matches.

His childhood baseball idols were Al Kaline, who was a star for the Detroit Tigers, and Fred Lynn. He’s a huge fan of Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray of the Baltimore Orioles. His current favorite player right now is Ichiro Suzuki (he loves his passion and all-around game).

He has met Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Cal Ripken, Alex Ovechkin, among others. He has been an Internet mentor to several professional athletes and Olympic athletes, and has become friends with them.

Aside from sports, Jimmy’s other passion is education. He’s in his fourth year of teaching Sports Marketing Strategy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. He’s the Chair of the advisory board for the university’s School of Continuing Education’s “Sports Industry Management” program. He’s also on the Leadership Council of George Washington University’s Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, and served on the advisory board of San Diego State University’s Sports MBA program.


Jimmy works with up to 14 non-profit organizations in diverse roles: as a member of the board of directors or advisory board, mentor, connector, volunteer or fundraiser. Many of these groups focus on helping children from lower-income families pursue college education or getting started with their career.

Among these groups are Venture Philanthropy Partners, Hoop Dreams Scholarship Foundation, Asian-American LEAD, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Year Up, Posse Foundation, Super Leaders, Giving Back Fund, America’s Promise, Case Foundation, Greater DC Cares, and Capitol Movement Project.

Jimmy has been recognized for his civic work over the years. These include the Andrew Heiskell award, Time Warner’s most prestigious community service award; Year Up’s Urban Empowerment award; City Year’s “Idealists of the Year,” and Greater DC Cares’ “2008 Class of Change,” honoring the District’s 10 rising leaders in philanthropy. He said, “The best thing about being recognized for these awards is that it allows me to continue to spread the message to others in the community about importance of ‘giving back,’ especially in these difficult economic times.”

Q & A Excerpts

What challenges did you overcome in your life? One of the challenges I had in life while growing up was being bi-racial. My mother is Japanese and my father was Irish-American. Growing up in Tokyo, I was in the minority since I was half-Caucasian. When I moved to Metro D.C. when I was 16, I was in the minority in high school and college, being I’m half-Asian. So, from time to time, I encountered some prejudice.

But when I was a junior in college, one of my classmates told me she thought I was extremely fortunate since I come from two distinct cultural backgrounds. Ever since then, I’ve embraced being both Asian and American.

Who are your role models, and why? I’ve had three primary role models in my life– my father, my Uncle Art, and my best friend’s father, Gen. Jack Guthrie. My father was a lieutenant colonel in the Army, my uncle a colonel in the Air Force, and General Guthrie is a retired four-star Army general. Unfortunately, both my father and uncle passed away in the past 18 months. They’re both buried in Arlington National Cemetery, less than three miles from my home in Rosslyn. I’m committed to carrying on the lessons they instilled in me on the importance of treating people equally, maintaining a high level of integrity and caring about others, as well as having fun in life.


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