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Beyond Tallulah, the illustrated biography of Sam Wyly, the most versatile big-company entrepreneur in American history, tells one of the most compelling untold business stories of our time. Wyly built 10 companies in nine different industries with 500 million- or billion-dollar valuations. His achievements serve as a valuable point of reference for today's generation of Start-up Whiz Kids.
After a mercurial rise through the early computer industry in Texas, Wyly founded a data transmission company (DATRAN) with the dream of building a network of microwave towers that would enable computers to talk to each other wirelessly--20 years before the World Wide Web existed. Wyly's dealings with entrenched interests foreshadow the tough questions faced by today's readership about the proper roles of government and business in rebuilding the country. As Wyly struggled to recover from disastrous setbacks, he never stopped asking, "What's next?"
In Beyond Tallulah, we watch Wyly journey from small-town high school football in the South to IBM in its Information Age heyday, from the takeover wars of the 1980s to adventures in big-scale national retailing, from the Alaska pipeline to a new generation of clean energy. Wyly's life promises to fascinate and inspire readers, while serving as a blueprint for aspiring entrepreneurs. Illustrated with more than two hundred color and black-and-white photos, Beyond Tallulah preserves Wyly's wholly original American journey--from his dirt poor Great Depression childhood in rural Louisiana to his many business triumphs.
Sam Wyly was raised in rural Louisiana. He got his MBA from the University of Michigan's Business School in 1957 and began his career as a salesman for IBM and then for Honeywell. Six years later, at the age of 28, Wyly was out on his own, creating his first company, University Computing, which offered computer services to local businesses. Over the course of the next 50 years, he founded or grew successful companies in computing, computer software products, oil refining, insurance, steakhouse franchising, arts-and-crafts retailing, hedge fund investing, environmentally friendly electricity, and carbon offsets.
In addition to being an entrepreneur, Wyly invests his time in educational institutions and has served as a trustee of Southern Methodist University, as vice chairman of the Princeton Parents Association, and on the board of PBS. One of Wyly's proudest endeavors was providing the start-up capital for the Dallas PBS station to create a high-quality news program in 1968. The show was called Newsroom, which evolved into what's known today as NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, one of the most trusted news sources for millions nationwide.
Over his storied career, Wyly has received many accolades and awards. Forbes named him one of its 10 greenest billionaires in 2010. In 2003, Wyly received the Murphy Award for Lifetime Achievement in Entrepreneurship from the University of North Texas Murphy Enterprise Center; in 1997, the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship and the David D. Alger Award from the University of Michigan Business School; and in 1970, the Horatio Alger Award and Entrepreneur of the Year honor from Southern Methodist University. In 1968, he was named "One of Ten Outstanding Young Men in America" by U.S. Jaycees and in 1967, "One of Five Outstanding Young Texans" by Texas Jaycees. In 2002, Wyly was interviewed by David Allison from The Smithsonian Museum as part of an oral history project about the origins of the computing industry.
Wyly is an avid reader and a family man. He resides in Dallas, and has six children, twelve grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
He is the author of a memoir, 1,000 Dollars & an Idea.
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Dennis Hamilton, formerly vice president and editor-in-chief for ICP Publications, has been writing about business leaders and technology since 1975. He first wrote about Sam Wyly in 1976 and has since covered many of his entrepreneurial adventures. Hamilton is the author of six books, more than a thousand articles in 30 journals, and his work has been published in seven languages. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife of 30 years, Jan.
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