At a party 12 years ago, Steve Goldstein bumped into an old colleague, Reid Johnson. Goldstein had just sold Colfax Communications—then the 22nd-largest radio group in the country, which he had formed five years earlier with some East Coast partners—for $400 million, and he mentioned to Johnson that he was “in between.” Johnson then told Goldstein his business idea: take content from a television station and repurpose it for the Internet, creating a television Web site.
Intrigued with the concept of creating a national network of such sites, Goldstein and Johnson founded St. Paul–based Internet Broadcasting Systems in 1996. After two years of raising money, recruiting, and building the company, Internet Broadcasting was on its way. In 1998, Goldstein became the company’s board chairman, an office he still holds.
The company now has offices in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco and revenues surpassing $50 million. It develops and provides local Web sites, online content, and advertising revenue programs to media companies including Hearst Television, Cox Communications, and CNN.
While serving as Internet Broadcasting’s chair, Goldstein in 1999 cofounded the Quatris Fund, an early-stage funding subsidiary of St. Paul Venture Capital, an early Internet Broadcasting investor. After six successful years, the group decided not to raise another fund, and Goldstein, a University of Minnesota graduate, moved on to become vice president for strategic initiatives at the University of Minnesota Foundation, where his focus was on commercializing the university’s intellectual property. He is now the U of M Foundation’s CEO and president.
When Johnson decided to retire as CEO of Internet Broadcasting, the board’s nationwide search for a successor turned up someone whom Goldstein had known while in the radio business. “One day I saw a 612 number light up on my cell phone,” recalls David Lebow, a former AOL executive vice president who lived in Connecticut at the time. “I thought, ‘I know only one person in Minnesota, I bet it’s Steve Goldstein.’” Lebow also thought that “if it was good enough for [Goldstein] to be chairman for all these years, it was good enough for me to work there and run it.”
Goldstein began his career at Minneapolis advertising and public relations firm Carmichael Lynch in 1973, later serving as vice president and general manager of WCCO Radio for six years. He takes a big-picture approach to board service. “I see the role of a director as being strategic and not micromanaging the company, which is a very important line that many directors and boards overstep,” he says. “I like to be available to management to coach and mentor and provide clear, honest, and constructive feedback.”
Lebow, who did become Internet Broadcasting’s CEO, notes that Goldstein has “always been available to help in any way. He helps me distill the board feedback into its simplest form; frankly, he also helps me distill my own ideas into simpler form. He understands the core issues at their simplest level and helps everyone communicate. You could put him in any business situation and he could flesh out the issues on both sides.”
Internet Broadcasting Systems, Goldstein says, “is about innovation and technology, which is as rapid paced and dynamic as it’s been in our lifetime. The changes in technology over the last decade have been breathtaking, and I’ve been able to participate in and learn from that.”
Besides serving as Internet Broadcasting’s board chair, Goldstein is a director on the Bush Foundation and University Enterprise Laboratory boards.