By: Errol I. Mars
Country: United States, Ethiopia
Noah A. Samara is a soft-spoken lawyer who was born in Ethiopia in 1956 and raised there and in Tanzania; his Sudanese father was a teacher and diplomat. His vision of an information-rich society led him-at age 34-to found WorldSpace in 1990, a $850 million digital radio venture. According to Business Week, in 1995 Mr.Samara shocked his colleagues when he canceled a meeting with Morgan Stanley & Co. to catch a plane for London, where he met with gulf investors. He returned with $10 million that enabled WorldSpace to begin negotiating with vendors and potential customers.
The company's mission is to create information affluence by using a new satellite-based infrastructure to deliver programming to the three-quarters of the world's population that lacks adequate radio reception and program choice and that wants high quality news, knowledge and entertainment at an affordable cost.
WorldSpace started broadcasts to Africa in October 1999 and to Asia in September 2000 and started service to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2002.
In addition to being the innovator of satellite radio for emerging markets, Mr. Samara has - through his pivotal role in founding XM Satellite Radio - been a leader in bringing this new medium to the United States. As the Chairman and CEO of one of the firm's initial owners, Mr. Samara guided the creation of XM. He personally hired the entire top tier of XM executives, negotiated contracts for the manufacture of XM's space segment, and oversaw the development of the company's business plan. XM is publicly traded on NASDAQ. WorldSpace in 1999 sold its interest in the XM, which is licensed to use and develop WorldSpace's technology.
Mr. Samara's early career was in satellite telecommunications, first with Geostar Corporation and later with the Washington law firm of Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti. He has been involved in development of both geostationary and low earth orbit (LEO) satellite systems. He was an advisor to numerous global telecommunications and broadcasting organizations on a wide range of business and regulatory issues. He has published articles in the fields of satellite communications and international law.
Mr. Samara owns 91% of WorldSpace which is in the process of going public and will be listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol "WRSP."
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