the 1990s Hartnett revolutionized the global
telecommunications industry, outmaneuvering the long distance
giants with his upstart company USA Global Link - the
first to enable global phone to phone calling via the Internet.
Publications like the Financial Times dubbed him
on the cover
of Telephony Magazine
| "Father of Internet Telephony and
technologies." After starting with just three
employees in a remote Midwestern hamlet, Fairfield, Iowa,
Hartnett grew the company to over 6,500 employees and
agents scattered across more than 160 countries and
territories around the globe.
1999 USA Global Link's annual revenue had hit $589 million.
When another company he founded, internet service provider Global
Online India, went public it made $780 million on the
opening day of the offering. By 2000, Harnett's companies had a
total market value of $2.8 billion (with him and his
family owning and controlling 85% of the equity).
became a Wall Street Journal cover boy (seven
times) and was featured in cover stories published by eight
different magazines. In 1996 he received the Entrepreneur of
the Year Award sponsored by Ernst & Young, USA
Today, and the NASDAQ Stock Exchange.
He got invited to the ultra exclusive World Economic
Forum in Davos, Switzerland where he rubbed elbows
|billionaires from around the
globe. He also got to know Microsoft
founder Bill Gates and Hartnett's company was
chosen to be the first telecommunications company to
link directly with Windows
industry is filled with a lot of great rags to riches stories
(and we have told many of them in previous DN Journal
Cover Stories) but
Hartnett's story has a different twist. He was born into a very
wealthy family, but his father wanted his children to have the
self respect that comes from making it
on their own, which Chris did - in spades.
dad, William Hartnett (a former FBI agent and
attorney who is still going strong at 82), had become one of
America's top real estate developers, overseeing such monumental
projects as New York's United Nations Plaza, Century
City in Los Angeles and his crown jewel - Chicago's
Lake Point Tower (at the time the world's largest apartment
building and literally a city unto itself). William went on to
complete more than 260 buildings across the U.S.
and Lorrayne Hartnett
| William's wife Lorrayne
bore him four children; a daughter and three sons, including
Chris who was born in Rockville Centre, New York on
August 15, 1953.
of Chris's particularly vivid childhood memories was of his father coming
home from work one day, putting his hands on Chris's shoulders
and declaring "Listen to me. You will never be a rich man's
son. They have no respect for money!" William said he would
cover the cost of the boy's education but after that he was on
his own because the elder Hartnett wanted his kids to make
their own success (the bulk of William's fortune
was to be left to the Catholic church and to hospitals
whose boards he served on).
Chris Hartnett and a
teacher with the science fair trophy
he won for building his own computer.
following year his parents sent him to a prestigious
college prep boarding school, La Lumiere, in Laporte,
Indiana - close to South Bend and Notre Dame.
"Once again I was back in this boarding school environment
where we would only go home 3-4 times a year at most. The
was entirely on school and achieving," Hartnett recalled.
" My senior year I was a
proctor, responsible for several underclassmen, and one of those
I was responsible for was John Roberts who went on to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. There were only 96
students so we became very close and many of them became like
brothers to me."
it was time to go to college, Hartnett found the entire world
was changing around him. It was the mid 60s and rebellion was in
the air. Respect for authority, even parental authority, was
waning and the new generation sought to change the world.
"I decided to disappear," Hartnett said. At 18
he decided to get as far away as he could, enrolling at Loyola
Marymount in Los Angeles. He would not come home
again until he was 26 years old and then only so his parents
could meet his new wife, Linda. She insisted on the
meeting and was instrumental in bringing Chris back together
G. Roberts - The current
Chief Justice of the U.S.
Supreme Court was Chris's
high school friend.
gives his Dad a hug on his
daughter Kristen's wedding day.
|Hartnett also came
to realize that his father had always had his best
interests at heart, something that so many sons do not
understand until they too have walked a mile or two in
the old man's shoes and gained the kind of wisdom that
comes only through real world experience.
"He came from a poor family and went into the
service, then put himself through law school working as a manual
laborer. He learned the value of a dollar and he wanted me to
learn that lesson too," Chris said. "Yes, it took me some time to realize it, but
he was a great man - the very best father anyone could be
blessed with. I love him more than life itself and
don’t regret anything he did.
He is at the root of all my accomplishments,
materially and spiritually."
set out to over achieve and really wanted to do more than my father had
done. He let us all know that we should look to ourselves to
achieve so we set out on that path." At Loyola, Hartnett
had been elected student body president just as he was getting
ready to begin his senior year, but he stunned friends and classmates
by deciding that he was not on the path he wanted to
late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental
Meditation, become a close
friend (and next door neighbor) to the
He abruptly withdrew from Loyola and headed a couple
hours north to Santa Barbara where he enrolled in the Maharishi
International University's School of Management, founded by spiritual
Mahesh Yogi, who had also founded and developed Transcendental
Meditation (the Maharishi would become a close
personal friend and major influence on Hartnett
throughout his life).
felt what I was learning in college was not talking to my inner
spirit," Harnett said. "I heard about this school and
I went up one weekend to visit and loved it."
His stay in
Santa Barbara was a brief one. "My first day on campus they
announced they had just bought their own campus, which was the
old Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa!"
Hartnett made the move to the midwest, but his dad did not like
the sudden change in his son's scholastic plans. Even though MIU
was fully accredited, he withdrew his financial support for
Beach Boys - Hartnett helped them
build a studio in Fairfield, Iowa where
they recorded the M.I.U. Album.
| to earn doctorates in the field. She has been Chris's
partner in all of his various business ventures since they were
married. When they sold USA Global Link the couple donated the
company's modern office complex in Fairfield to their alma mater
where it is part of the campus today.
& Linda Harnett (in Italy 2006)
| follow throughout his life). He worked three
different jobs and did especially well in condominium sales. He
also started taking gemological courses because he and Linda
were about to get married and he wanted to make an informed
choice when he picked out her engagement ring.
169-carat pink emerald, the
world's largest heart-shaped pink emerald,
is in Hartnett's private gemstone collection.
of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on
the day the market crashed - Oct. 19, 1987
| arbitrage and futures trading, Hartnett went on to compile one of the
most successful records in the history of the CME with only six
down days in his seven years of floor trading. The Wall
Street Journal singled him out as being one of the few
traders that had the vision to be on the “right side” of the
market when it crashed on October 19, 1987. Hartnett made
millions before retiring from that space in 1990.
Hartnett making an early VOIP call
(long distance call over the Internet).
| Hartnett said. He made the call himself,
calling Chicago from Europe. Unfortunately, at the
same time his company was experiencing exponential growth, his
health was deteriorating just as rapidly.
Mahesh Yogi on the cover of
Time Magazine - October 1975
poster that promoted GlobalOnline.com
| visual content is going to settle more
on .tv. Basically it just supplements and glorifies the existing
website. If you have the .com and it is working well, having the
.tv is only going to give it a deeper and more vertical
integration. Would people rather read the story or watch it?
I think ultimately they would rather watch it,"
can't we have a .tv site for every product, so I can see a
demonstration on how to use it instead of digging through a
manual?," he asked. "Why can't we have one for every
disease, so if I want to learn about ulcerative colitis I can
sit there and watch a program about it? It is an educational
thing that you can apply to almost every field. I think .tv is a
great extension for that."
and his father William
in Ireland in 2005
Hartnett with the late great magician
Doug Henning in New York City on
the day the Maharishi Global Development Fund was
established in 1997. Hartnett also worked for a time as
a professional magician.
noted that any of us could lose everything we have at any
given moment and that knowledge guides his outlook on life.
"I don't define myself by what I have created or
accomplished. I define myself by how happy I am at this moment
and how happy I can make other people at this moment. That's
really the wealth that I think everyone should aspire to."
magician Chris Hartnett bringing joy
to people at the Magic Castle in L.A. -
|better have some pretty good inner vision
going for me. I'm going to have to start appreciating
the things that are not just on the surface, but the
things that I can't see - the inner relationships
between people and families, the way you honor other