Bob Leonard, 70; Made Ticketmaster Nation’s Biggest Such Firm
Bob Leonard, 70, the founding president of Ticketmaster who made it the largest ticket distribution company in the country with a computer-based system for automating box offices, died March 12 in San Diego.
Leonard, a La Jolla resident, had a heart attack on his way to attend a lecture at San Diego State University’s Entrepreneurial Management Center, his family said.
Ticketmaster was founded by a handful of Arizona State University students in 1980 who hired Leonard, a former executive in computer and communications companies, as president and chief executive. He secured a $500,000 start-up loan and guided them in the development of a computerized telephone service that expanded the selection of available seats for ticket buyers.
It eventually surpassed Ticketron, the entrenched leader of the ticket-service industry, through exclusive contracts with such outlets as the San Diego Sports Arena. In 1990, Ticketmaster bought out Ticketron and expanded its market worldwide.
Leonard stepped down as a senior executive after the company became publicly traded in 1996; it was bought recently by USA Interactive. At the time of Leonard’s retirement, the company had annual revenues of more than $2 billion and operated in the Americas, Europe and Australia.
Leonard was born in Watertown, Mass., and earned a degree in mathematics from Boston College in 1954.
He later received a master’s degree in applied mathematics and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and studied at Harvard Business School.