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Bob Leonard, 70; Made Ticketmaster Nation’s Biggest Such Firm

From Staff and Wire Reports

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.

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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.


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