Charles Wang (pronounced Wong), was born August 19th 1944 in Shanghai, China. His father Kenneth, was a judge on China’s highest court, and mother Mary immigrated to Queens, N.Y. in 1952, after the Communist Party seized power in China.
Charles attended Brooklyn Technical High School, and after graduating went on to Queens college in New York where he earned a Bachelors of Science degree in mathematics in 1966. Shortly thereafter he began working at Columbia University’s Riverside Research Institute as a computer programmer, even though he had no experience in computers, he accepted the job and after working on a few programs he was inspired to make computer programming his life.
He continued working with Columbia until the early 1970s, when he signed on with Standard Data Corp as a software salesman, working his way up to Vice President of sales. In 1974 he bought a 50% share in the US sales rights in an overseas software company, Computer Associates International, Inc.
In 1976 Charles went to work for Computer Associates with a few sales people and a small office, they set out to compete with a major software giant of the time IBM. With limited funds, Charles would use personal credit cards to finance his business expenses. Along with his associates, they would cold call companies in an effort to sell software to increase the productivity of the IBM machines of the time. By the end of that first year in 1976, Wang had a net profit of $5000, and was gaining the attention of mainframe computer users.
Sales escalated and by 1979, Wang’s brother Tony had joined the company as President and COO. The fledging company began to acquire other small software companies and eventually amassing more than 50 acquisitions over the next two decades. By the mid 1990s, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems and Oracle had made alliances with Computer Associates who was fast becoming the second largest software company in the world.
By 2000, Computer Associates value reached more than $50 billion. Charles Wang enjoyed four consecutive years as America’s highest-paid CEO, and in November 2002, made a decision to step down as CEO and relinquish his chairmanship, due in part to an SEC investigation prompted by stockholders regarding a 1998 stock option granted to him and two other company executives. However, there was insufficient evidence to bring charges against Charles Wang.
That same year, Charles purchased a majority ownership of a hockey team, the New York Islanders for $188 million. For the past eight years he has actively involved himself in charitable work, donating millions to The Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Smile Train (which he co-founded), and the State University of New York. He also funded the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center in Chinatown, and donated a new law school to China’s Suzhou University in honor of their father.
Today in addition to managing the New York Islanders, Charles has interests in real estate development, being the founder of a Plainview Properties, a real estate company, and dabbling in other sports after acquiring the New York Dragons arena football franchise. Currently he is involved in getting his Lighthouse project under way which will replace the Nassau Coliseum and develop 150 surrounding acres to include condominiums, an Athletic complex, Health Spa and a five star hotel.
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