Tom Golisano

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Blase Thomas Golisano (born November 14, 1941)[2] is an American billionaire businessman, philanthropist, and author. He is the founder of Paychex, which offers payroll and human resources services to businesses. Golisano also owns Greenlight Networks, a fiber internet provider based in Rochester, New York. He owned the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League from 2003 to 2011. Golisano unsuccessfully ran for Governor of New York as a third-party candidate in 1994, 1998, and 2002. As of 2020, Golisano had a net worth of $4.2 billion.

Tom Golisano
Tom Golisano.JPG
Blase Thomas Golisano

(1941-11-14) November 14, 1941 (age 79)
EducationAlfred State College (BA)
Net worthUS$4.2 billion (January 2021)[1]
Political partyIndependence (1991–2005)
Republican (2005–present)
Spouse(s)Monica Seles
WebsiteGolisano Foundation


Paychex Headquarters in Rochester, New York

Paychex was founded by Golisano in 1971. He started the company with $3,000 and a credit card.[3] Golisano served as its president and Chief Executive Officer from 1971 to October 2004. He has been the Chairman of Paychex since October 1, 2004, and its Director since 1979.[4]

In April 2018, it was announced that Golisano was purchasing Greenlight Networks, a Rochester-based fiber internet provider and local competitor to Frontier Communications and Charter Spectrum that was established in 2012.[5] Following Golisano's purchase of Greenlight, the company began expanding into new areas.[6]

The 2020 Forbes 400 list stated that Golisano was the 238th wealthiest person in America with a net worth of $3.4 billion as of September 2020.[7]

Professional sportsEdit

Golisano is a former co-owner (along with real estate developer Larry Quinn) of the Buffalo Sabres hockey team and of the Buffalo Bandits lacrosse team.[citation needed] He purchased the Sabres from the NHL who had stripped the team from their previous owner John Rigas, the former Adelphia CEO who was charged and convicted of bank fraud, wire fraud, and securities fraud and had owned the team since 1997.[8] He sold the Sabres and its assets to billionaire Terrence Pegula in February 2011.[citation needed] Golisano made a bid for the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers franchise in early 2012,[9] but his group was eventually outbid by a consortium led by Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Partners. In order to help keep the team in western NY, he also made a bid for the Buffalo Bills when that franchise came up for sale in 2014;[10] that team was also ultimately purchased by Pegula.[citation needed]

Political involvementEdit

Golisano is a founding member of the Independence Party of New York and ran on its ticket for governor of New York in 1994, 1998 and 2002. Although he was never elected, his percentage of the vote increased with each election. He spent a combined $93 million on the three campaigns.[11] By receiving more than 50,000 votes each time, Golisano brought the Independence Party an automatic ballot line for the succeeding four years. After New York's Republican governor, George Pataki announced he would not run again in the 2006 election, Republican officials attempted to recruit Golisano to run for the Republican nomination. He changed his party affiliation to Republican, with the Independence Party's chairman's blessing, in October 2005, apparently in preparation for another gubernatorial run. In February 2006, Golisano announced that he would not run for the governorship.[12]

In August 2008, Golisano contributed $1 million to the Democratic National Convention.[13]

In July 2008, Golisano formed a PAC called Responsible New York and funded it with $5 million of his own money. The PAC gives money to candidates for the New York state legislature, regardless of party. The PAC is aiming to support candidates for property tax cuts and election reform.[13]

In October 2008, Golisano voiced his opinion in favor of term limits for public offices in the New York City. Golisano vowed to fight Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to extend term limits, arguing that the people of New York City have voted twice in favor of the current law.[14] There was speculation that he would run for governor again on the Republican ticket, but it was announced, on May 15, 2009, that he was moving to Florida to escape New York's high taxes.[15]

In June 2009, Golisano took partial credit for creating the 2009 New York State Senate leadership crisis in which Republicans temporarily seized control of a body that still retained a Democratic enrollment edge. Golisano, who had supported a number of Democratic Party candidates during the 2008 election, was dissatisfied with things like the Democrats' effort to solve the state's budget crisis by raising taxes on New York's wealthiest residents. He orchestrated the defection of Democratic senators Pedro Espada Jr. and Hiram Monserrate, who voted with Republicans to reinstate Dean Skelos as majority leader.[16] The attempted coup failed when Espada and Monserrate returned to the Senate Democratic Conference.[17][18]

In February 2011, Golisano became the spokesman for National Popular Vote Inc., a non-profit organization seeking to implement a popular vote system for presidential elections by harnessing the electoral college.[19]

In January 2018, Golisano announced the formation of a campaign called Tax My Property Fairly. The stated purpose of the campaign is "to help Upstate New York homeowners fight for fair property taxes."[20]


As of Jan. 2021, Golisano has pledged or donated more than $300 million to a variety of philanthropic causes.[21]

Golisano founded the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation in 1985 with an initial gift of $90,000. The Foundation awards grants to organizations dedicated to providing opportunities for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.[22]

In October 2008, Golisano donated $10 million to Niagara University for a new B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences building.[23]

In November 2009, Golisano donated $4 million to Ave Maria University for the construction of a new field house.[24]

In 2012, Golisano donated $12 million to the Special Olympics to launch the Healthy Communities initiative. The purpose of the initiative is to increase year-round access to health care for people with intellectual disabilities. He made an additional commitment of $25 million to Special Olympics in 2015 to expand Healthy Communities to 100 locations around the world. This was the largest single gift to an organization made by Golisano and the largest single gifts ever received from an individual by Special Olympics.[25] Also in 2012, Golisano donated $20 million to build a new Golisano Children's Hospital at Lee Health in southwest Florida which opened in Spring 2017.[26]

In 2014, the Golisano Neurology and Rehabilitation Center opened at Unity Hospital in Rochester, funded in part by a $10 million contribution from Golisano.[27]

Golisano and the Golisano Foundation were recognized among 30 givers and causes on Forbes' "Philanthropy's Big Bets for Social Change of 2015."[28]

In June 2016, the Golisano Center for Community Health opened its doors to patients. The center, which provides integrated health care to people with disabilities and their families, was made possible with a gift of $3.5 million from Golisano.[29] In September 2016, Golisano gave $7.5 million to Nazareth College for a new athletic training center that will aim to be a model of inclusion, fitness and wellness, and is expected to open in 2018.[30] Also in September 2016, Golisano gave $2 million to the WXXI Public Broadcasting Council for equipment. This was his second gift to WXXI; he gave $2 million in 2004 to allow WXXI to upgrade to digital broadcasting equipment.[31]

In April 2017, the City of Rochester announced modified Rochester Broadway Theatre League proposal for Midtown Plaza which in partnership with Morgan Development would include a performing arts center to be called the Golisano Center for the Performing Arts in honor of a donation made to the project by Golisano.[32] Also in 2017, at the Special Olympics World Games, the first Golisano Global Health Care Leadership Awards were presented to recognize those who are advancing inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities.[33]

Golisano donated $14 million to the University of Rochester, which renamed their pediatric facility at Strong Memorial Hospital the Golisano Children's Hospital in 2002. In 2012, Golisano pledged an additional $20 million to URMC to build a new Golisano Children's Hospital, which opened in 2015.[34][35]

In April 2017, Golisano and the Golisano Foundation pledged $3 million to construct a facility dedicated to providing services to families of autistic children and adults in the city of Rochester.[36] The Golisano Autism Center, which opened in September 2019 in a new 33,000 sq. ft. building, is unique in how it integrated numerous recreational, medical and educational support providers and services into one location.[37]

Built Not BornEdit

In February 2020, Golisano released Built, Not Born: A Self-Made Billionaire's No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs, co-authored by Mike Wicks of Kevin Anderson & Associates. The book, published by Harper Collins, contains business advice drawn from Golisano's fifty years of experience.[38] The book reached #1 on Barnes and Noble's bestselling business book charts.[39]

Personal lifeEdit

Three times divorced, Golisano is married to former tennis player Monica Seles.[40][41]

Electoral historyEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Forbes profile: Tom Golisano". Forbes. Retrieved November 1, 2020.
  2. ^ "The World's Billionaires: #721 B. Thomas Golisano". Forbes. March 3, 2010.
  3. ^ Layden, Laura (24 February 2020). "Built Not Born: Naples billionaire Tom Golisano talks about his new book". News-Press. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
  4. ^ "Stocks". Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  5. ^ "Billionaire Thomas Golisano is acquiring Spectrum, Frontier competitor Greenlight Networks". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-04-21.
  6. ^ "Greenlight internet expands to Greece". azcentral.
  7. ^ "#238 Tom Golisano". Forbes. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  8. ^ Blair, Jayson (2003-03-14). "N.H.L.; Golisano Group To Buy Sabres". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  9. ^ Golisano talks about Dodgers bid Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  10. ^ Wawrow, John (August 6, 2014). Golisano submits bid to buy Bills. Associated Press. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  11. ^ Freakonomics revised and expanded edition, page 7.
  12. ^ "Politics - NY Daily News". Daily News. New York. August 27, 2010.[dead link]
  13. ^ a b "8-20-2008 - "NY Republican Tom Golisano gives big money to Democratic convention" - Muckety". Archived from the original on 2008-08-22. Retrieved 2008-08-20.
  14. ^ "Council To Vote On Term Limits Issue On Thursday -". Archived from the original on 10 September 2012.
  15. ^ Why I'm Leaving New York,, Guest View by Tom Golisano
  16. ^ Peters, Jeremy W.; Hakim, Danny (June 8, 2009). "Republicans Seize Control of State Senate". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010.
  17. ^ Hakim, Danny; Peters, Jeremy W. (June 15, 2009). "Monserrate Flips Back to Democrats". The New York Times. Archived from the original on July 31, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
  18. ^ Lovett, Kenneth; Benjamin, Elizabeth; Blain, Glenn (July 9, 2009). "End in sight for Senate deadlock? Rogue Democrat Pedro Espada returning to Dems". Daily News. Retrieved July 9, 2009.
  19. ^ Spector, Joseph (February 22, 2011). "Tom Golisano to help effort to end Electoral College". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
  20. ^ "Press release". January 16, 2018. Retrieved 2020-02-17.
  21. ^ "#238 Tom Golisano". Forbes. Retrieved 14 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Golisano Foundation :: Home". Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  23. ^ Houle, Niagara University - Andrew. "Map". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  24. ^ Ave Maria University press release Archived 2010-01-31 at the Wayback Machine, November 5, 2009.
  25. ^ "Providing Health Services Worldwide for the Most Underserved". Special Olympics. Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  26. ^ "Golisano Foundation Site :: Tom Golisano". Retrieved 2017-02-14.
  27. ^ "Golisano Restorative Neurology & Rehabilitation Center - Rochester Regional Health, New York". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  28. ^ Dolan, Kerry A. "Big Bet Philanthropy: How More Givers Are Spending Big And Taking Risks To Solve Society's Problems". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  29. ^ "Tom Golisano Makes Gift of $3.5 Million for center to serve people with special needs". Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. 2014-09-15. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  30. ^ "Golisano Foundation Site :: News & Events". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  31. ^ "Golisano Foundation Site :: Tom Golisano". Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  32. ^ "Page Not Found". Retrieved July 19, 2018. Cite uses generic title (help)
  33. ^ "Honoring Special Olympics Health Champions Around the World". Special Olympics. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  34. ^ "Golisano Children's Hospital - University of Rochester Medical Center". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  35. ^ "Tom Golisano's Gift - Golisano Children's Hospital - University of Rochester Medical Center". Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  36. ^ Peace, Lauren (13 November 2020). "How a group of local moms created an autism support system for thousands". Democrat & Chronicle. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  37. ^ Delbel, Antoinette (12 September 2019). "Golisano Autism Center, hub for autism services, celebrates grand opening". WHAM 13. Retrieved 14 November 2020.
  38. ^ "Built Not Born: Reading it is Like Picking a Billionaire's Brain". October 20, 2019.
  39. ^ "Business Bestsellers". Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  40. ^ Abelson, Max (December 20, 2011). "Bankers Join Billionaires to Debunk 'Imbecile' Attack on Top 1%". Bloomberg.
  41. ^ Tennis star Monica Seles’ husband Tom Golisano refuses to pay tax bill over ‘geese droppings’,, 6 February 2018

External linksEdit

Party political offices
First Independence nominee for Governor of New York
1994, 1998, 2002
Succeeded by
Eliot Spitzer