Entrepreneurship Day

John S. Hendricks

Founder and Former Chairman, Discovery Communications

Founder and Chairman, Curiosity Project

John S. Hendricks is the founder and former Chairman of Discovery Communications, the global media parent company of Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TLC and Science, among many other television networks and ancillary businesses and brands.  Hendricks launched Discovery Channel in 1985 as the first cable network in the United States designed to provide high-quality documentary programming enabling people to explore their world and satisfy their curiosity.

Hendricks was the driving force behind Discovery Communications’ dramatic growth, including the expansion from its core property, Discovery Channel, to global operations in over 220 countries and territories, with more than 2.5 billion cumulative subscribers, 206 worldwide networks and 49 network entertainment brands when he retired in 2014.  Discovery also is a leading provider of educational products and services to schools.

Hendricks took early retirement from Discovery in May 2014 to focus fully on the Curiosity Project, a venture run day-to-day by his daughter, Elizabeth North, and comprised of CuriosityStream and Curiosity Retreats.  CuriosityStream, set to launch March 18, 2015, is a consumer subscription video-on-demand service streaming the world’s best factual content in an ad-free environment.  The CuriosityStream library is comprised of original material created by Curiosity Studios, content commissioned by Curiosity Project from the best factual content producers in the world, and documentaries and other material licensed from leading producers and visionary experts.  Curiosity Retreats, launched in 2014 at Gateway Canyons Resort in Colorado, gather the greatest minds on the planet to teach and share with Curiosity Retreat guests their knowledge about topics in the areas of Science, Technology, Civilization and the Human Spirit.  Gateway Canyons Resort, also developed by Hendricks, was voted the #1 Resort on Colorado, #3 Resort in the US and #12 Resort in the World by Conde Nast Traveler in 2014.

A visionary in the media industry, Hendricks has been honored with a Primetime Emmy Award and with the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences highest honor, the Governors Award, for conceiving the TLC series, Great Books.  The Ark Trust named him a recipient of the Genesis Award for lifetime achievement for his efforts in raising awareness around the globe about animal issues.  Hendricks has also been recognized as the first corporate leader to receive the National Education Association's Friend of Education award for "innovations in education and technology and greatly expanding educational opportunity for America's schoolchildren."

Hendricks serves on the Board of Directors of a number of non-profit organizations including the United States Olympic Committee, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Institute for Advanced Study, and the National Forest Foundation.

Hendricks holds a B.A. in history (magna cum laude, 1974) and an honorary doctorate (1991) from the University of Alabama, Huntsville.

Hendricks’ memoir, A CURIOUS DISCOVERY: An Entrepreneur’s Story, recounts the struggles and triumphs of turning his passion for documentary programs into the world’s most widely distributed cable channel and parlaying its popularity into a leading global media company.  The book was published by Harper Collins in June 2013.



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