john malone John Malone, Chairman of Liberty Media — SiriusXM’s largest shareholder Reuters/Rick Wilking

  • John Malone, controlling owner of Liberty Media, is one the US’ richest men with a net worth of about $9.3 billion.
  • The billionaire began his career as a “cable cowboy” in research & development at Bell Labs
  • He went on to oversee some of the biggest deals in cable and entertainment, with forays into sports, ranching, and more.

SiriusXM announced Monday that it had made an offer for digital streaming company Pandora in an all-stock deal worth $3.5 billion. Liberty Radio (a subsidiary of Liberty Media) is Sirius’ largest shareholder, with a 70% control of the satellite radio company — and its chairman, John Malone, has had his hands in some of cable and entertainment’s biggest deals of the past decade.

Under his watch, some of the world’s biggest cable operators have undergone deals that have shaped the way nearly everyone consumes media in their home and on the go.  

And even while you might not know his name, chances are you’ve used a service or watched a channel with connections to Malone, a cable pioneer and one of the US’ largest landowners. His other interests are as far-flung as race cars, the Discovery Channel, and the Atlanta Braves.

Here’s just a small taste of his diverse investments:

  • He is largest stakeholder of Liberty Media, which is worth $24 billion.
  • He owns 28% of Discovery Communications, which just sealed a $14.6 billion deal for Scripps.
  • He owns a quarter of Liberty Global, the largest international cable company with 29 million subscribers.
  • He owns 8% of the publicly traded Atlanta Braves.
  • He owns 2.2 million acres of land, making him the single largest landowner in the US.

But the media mogul wasn’t just born into his $9 billion net worth. Here’s how one of the richest and most powerful people in American business rose to prominence.