The Life and Achievements of Joel Hyatt

Born on May 6th, 1950, Joel Z. Hyatt is a former attorney and prominent businessman and also an American politician, belonging to the Democratic Party. Founder of Hyatt Legal Services, Mr. Joel Hyatt was featured in the television commercials of the company where he recited the slogan ‘I am Joel Hyatt and you have my word on it’. He is also responsible for co-founding Current TV. Mr. Hyatt graduated from Yale Law School and Dartmouth College before that. For a brief period, he worked as an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison.

It was in 1977 that Joel Hyatt co-founded Hyatt Legal Services as a low-cost and affordable legal service. Later, Hyatt Legal Plans was also founded by Mr. Hyatt and this firm became the largest provider of group legal services in the country that was sponsored by employers. In 1997, MetLife acquired Hyatt Legal Plans. Mr. Hyatt also helped in founding the US Senate Democratic Leadership Circle and from 1981 to 1986; he remained a member of this group. From 1981 to 1983, he was the assistant treasurer of the Democratic National Committee. Former US Senator, Howard Metzenbaum is Mr. Hyatt’s father-in-law who chose to retire from the Senate in 1994 and that’s when his son-in-law ran to replace him.

The Democratic nomination landed in Joel Hyatt’s lap, but in the general election, he lost to R. Michael DeWine, the then Ohio Lt. Gov. In June of 1999, Governor Gray Davis appointed Mr. Hyatt to the California Public Utilities Commission. In December 1999, Hyatt gave his resignation, serving six months of a term that was supposed to last six years. In 2000, he acted as the National Finance Chair of the Democratic Party. He struck up a business partnership with Al Gore, the former US vice president. They purchased a cable news channel called Newsworld International in 2004, which was programmed by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and broadcasted news from all over the world.

The network was re-launched by Gore and Hyatt as Current TV on 1st August, 2005 and Joel Hyatt was named the Chief Executive Officer. This was a news and information service targeting young adults, which brought about the introduction of content generated by the user on Cable TV. The channel was later sold on January 2nd, 2013 by Gore and Hyatt to Al Jazeera Media Network for about 500 million dollars. A lawsuit was launched by Hyatt and Gore against Al Jazeera in August, 2014, claiming that a residual payment of approximately $65 million is still unpaid.

Al Jazeera dismissed the allegations as ‘potentially misleading’ and ‘blatantly false’. From 1998 to 2003, Mr. Hyatt also taught at Stanford University Graduate School of Business focusing on entrepreneurship. He is also a member of the board of trustees of The Brookings Institution and Morehouse College. In May 2007, Mr. Hyatt was elected to the board of directors of Hewlett-Packard Company. He has also served as a Director of Stanford Hospitals and Clinics and Sterna Technology Ltd.

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