While some people prefer to make monetary political contributions and leave their influence at that, there are others that are looking to have more say in the political process. For entrepreneurs, many of whom enjoy affecting change, the lure of political office is hard to resist. After all, it’s the ultimate challenge for someone who wants to create change on a big scale. And, in many instances, it’s the entrepreneur with a successful business that has the means to enter the political arena.
So, what are some entrepreneurs that chose to run for public office? Click ahead to find out.
By Jessica Naziri
Posted 11 November 2011
Business: Berlusconi's business career began in construction in the early 1960s. He started Telemilano, a cable television company, and founded Fininvest, which later expanded into a national network of local TV stations. Berlusconi also has stakes in life insurance, movie production and the A.C. Milan soccer team. In March 2011, Forbes estimated that Berlusconi’s fortune is worth $7.8 billion.
Politics: Berlusconi has been prime minister of Italy on three separate occasions, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 - present. He has been criticized for his dominance over the Italian media ands is notorious for several sex scandals.
Business: Bloomberg is a self-made billionaire. He is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent, Bloomberg LP. The former Salomon Brothers trader worked his way up to partner there, leading the firm’s block trading operations.
Politics: In 2001, Bloomberg entered the race for mayor of New York City, creating a controversy when he switched his political allegiance from Democrat to Republican. After successfully campaigning to extend two-term limits, he is currently serving his third consecutive term. He draws a token salary of $1 annually for his work as mayor - the rest of his $195,000 yearly salary remains with the city, according to Citymayors.com. Bloomberg is the richest politician in the United States, with a fortune estimated by Forbes to be $19.5 billion as of September 2011.
Business: After working four years as a construction superintendent, corker started his own construction company, Bencor, with $8,000. In 1999, he purchased the Osborne Building Corporation and the Stone Fort Land Company, the two largest real estate companies in Chattanooga, making him the largest private landowner in Hamilton County, Tenn.
Politics: Corker is the junior United States Senator from Tennessee. Before his election to the Senate in 2006, he served as mayor of Chattanooga from 2001 to 2005.
Business: Saudi-born Lebanese billionaire Hariri is a graduate of the School of Business at Georgetown University and runs the family business Saudi Oger, a Mideast telecom, construction and real estate company. According to Forbes, as of March 2010, he was worth an estimated $1.9 billion.
Politics: After Hariri’s father, Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, was assassinated in 2005, Saad entered politics. He won his father’s seat in parliament, leading the Future Movement, a moderate, nonsectarian political bloc. In January 2011, opposition parties resigned from the cabinet after Hariri posed for pictures with President Barack Obama, causing his unity government to collapse. A new government formed in June 2011, headed by Najib Mikati.
Business: Ivanishvili began building his empire in the 1980s by selling computers, before moving on to importing what was then a novelty in Russia, push-button phones. In 1990, Ivanishvili founded Rossiysky Kredit Bank with partner Vitaly Malkin and now owns a chain of Russian pharmacies and real estate interests in Moscow. In March 2011, Forbes estimated that Ivanishvili was worth $5.5 billion.
Politics: In October 2011, Ivanishvili declared that he would form a new political party and take part in the 2012 parliamentary elections for president of Georgia.
Business: A Dallas computer billionaire, Perot founded Electronic Data Systems, EDS, in 1962 and sold the company to General Motors in 1984. He later founded Perot Systems, which was bought by Dell for $3.9 billion in 2009. As of September 2011, Forbes estimated Perot’s fortune was worth $3.5 billion.
Politics: During the 1992 presidential election, Perot ran for president as an independent candidate and won 19 percent of the popular vote, the most ever for an independent candidate. He ran again in 1996, this time as the candidate of the newly founded Reform Party, which he created and funded. That time around, he won 8 percent of the vote.
Business: Poizner is a technology entrepreneur who founded SnapTrack, which put GPS receivers into 700 million cell phones around the world, as well as Strategic Mapping, which assists police departments and utilities and transportation companies with strategic planning and logistics.
Politics: He was a Republican candidate for governor of California in the 2010 primary. He was defeated by former CEO of eBay, Meg Whitman, who spent a national record $141 million of personal funds on her campaign.
Business: After working as a business consultant for several years, Romney co-founded the investment firm Bain Capital in 1984. Under his leadership, Bain Capital helped to launch or rebuild hundreds of companies, including household names such as Staples, Domino's Pizza and The Sports Authority. As Bain Capital was growing in prominence, he returned to his old consulting firm, Bain & Company, as CEO.
Politics: Romney is a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential election. He ran for president 2008, winning several primaries and caucuses, but eventually lost the nomination to John McCain. He was also governor of Massachusetts.
Business: Harvard-educated Sebastián obtained representation rights for Visa and MasterCard in Chile and created Bancard S.A., bringing credit cards to the country. He also owns a television channel, a stake in Chile's most successful soccer club and a large stake in the country's national airline. In March 2011 Forbes estimated that Sebastián's fortune is worth $2.4 billion.
Politics: The South American entrepreneur was elected president of Chile in January 2010. Since taking office, he fulfilled a campaign pledge to divest his holdings, selling his 26 percent stake in LAN Airlines for $1.5 billion, the TV channel Chilevision to Time Warner for a reported $150 million, and his stake in Blanco y Negro, Chile's most popular football team for $7.4 million. Sebastián’s government spearheaded the successful effort to rescue 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for 69 days.
Business: Warner co-founded the company that eventually became Nextel, making early investments in hundreds of high-tech start-up companies.
Politics: The former governor of Virginia, he currently serves in the U.S. Senate as a junior senator. He was widely expected to pursue a nomination in the 2008 presidential elections, but announced that he would not run, citing a desire not to disrupt his family life.