Appointed Chief Financial Officer and seafood restaurateur Jimmy Patronis lied about using taxpayer resources for his campaign — POLITICO even caught him red-handed — and now he’s lying about my business background. Let’s set the record straight.
I’m an entrepreneur. My opponent isn’t. I’ve started businesses. He hasn’t.
I’ve helped to pioneer industry. I’ve started organizations, grown organizations, and led organizations.
I’ve dealt with personnel challenges, written business plans, worked in mergers and acquisitions, raised capital, invested my own capital, and had shareholder responsibility.
I’ve been held to strong corporate governance standards, negotiated countless deals with countless clients.
I’ve held significant roles in publicly traded companies and private companies; large companies and small companies.
Jimmy Patronis, if he ever started a business, would know what all of that truly means. He doesn’t and hasn’t.
Jimmy Patronis inherited a seafood restaurant. He dropped out of a race for state Senate in favor of a plum position with the Public Service Commission, for which he was hand-selected by Rick Scott for his unique ability to do the Governor’s bidding.
After CFO Jeff Atwater resigned, Scott quickly appointed Jimmy to the role of Chief Financial Officer for the remainder of his term — for the very same reason he was selected for the Public Service Commission. In short, Jimmy is the CFO because he is friends with the Governor, not because he is qualified.
At 25, I opened the first East Coast office of internet company Yahoo! out of my apartment in New York City and over the next five years I helped to turn it into a multibillion-dollar tech leader.
I served in the Florida Senate, where I crafted major bipartisan legislation establishing an innovation economy to help Florida’s entrepreneurs build their ideas and grow jobs right here in Florida.
I created the largest technology incubator in the state, the Gainesville based “Florida Institute of Commercialization,” which in turn has helped start and grow over 75 technology businesses in Florida with over $1 billion in economic impact and an average salary of over $75,000.
I created the Florida Opportunity Fund, a $100 million institutional venture capital fund for Florida companies; last, I was the creator of the Florida Growth Fund, a $1 billion late-stage venture capital fund for technology company’s across the Florida that has returned over 10 percent capital to the beneficiaries of the Florida Retirement System.
In addition to those successes, I also started or invested in a number of businesses here in Florida, companies that Jimmy falsely paints as flops.
Jimmy points to my company Convizion as a prime example of my business failures, and as a reason as to why I cannot be trusted with the State’s finances.
He says that I readily admit to it being a “failure,” even citing an article. The only problem is that the next sentence after the one he cites completely contradicts his argument. It reads, “It was only by being open to new opportunities that he (Ring) and his partners were able to create a success out of their apparent loss.”
And, success there was.
In fact, Convizion shareholders made between two and four times their initial investment. Only someone with zero real business experience would consider that a failure.
Jimmy also points to Strategic Baseball Ventures and Ring Entertainment as “flops” and further proof of me losing money for shareholders. But here again, he is either lying or doesn’t understand basic business — neither is a good quality for the person in charge of Florida’s finances.
Strategic Baseball Ventures was set up in the early 2000s when a partner of mine wanted to investigate buying minor league baseball franchises. We looked at a few deals, didn’t find one we liked and moved on. No one lost any money.
Ring Entertainment was a small endeavor between my brother and I that was a fun family project. It had zero outside capital invested and minimal family capital.
Not everyone is handed a business and not everyone is handed a position to oversee the state treasury. Qualifications matter, as does honesty.
Right now, I am questioning both for the current appointed CFO.
Jeremy Ring is a former state Senator and tech startup executive. He is a Democrat running for Florida Chief Financial Officer.