WASHINGTON, DC (December 10, 2013) – Last week, we lost Herbert P. Wilkins, Sr., a longtime board member, supporter, and friend of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC).
Often thought of as larger than life and affectionately nicknamed “The Godfather of Minority Venture Capital,” Herb, a Harvard MBA who rose from the Mission Hill projects in Boston, held a strong passion for and commitment to minority ownership in the communications industries. This passion guided Herb’s business pursuits and will continue to reverberate long after his life.
Herb revolutionized minority entrepreneurship in the broadcasting and cable industries through his successful venture capital funds, Syndicated Communications, Inc., and Syncom Venture Partners, funds that, collectively, have invested nearly a half-billion dollars in minority-owned communications business enterprises over the past 35 years. With a mission to diversify the ownership of media in the United States, Syncom invested in deals other venture capital firms refused to take a chance on, sharing the risks and rewards of their investments with other minority VCs through syndication-style investments. After investing in these diverse entrepreneurs, Herb, long-time business partner and fellow Harvard MBA Terry L. Jones, and the rest of the Syncom team worked closely with them to ensure their success.
In addition to directly funding minority enterprises through Syncom, Herb advocated for minority advancement through his work with MMTC. An MMTC board member for 12 years, Herb established a Syncom Endowment at MMTC to fund fellowships for minority civil rights lawyers and advocates of Federal Communications Commission policies for diversity of ownership in the media and telecom industries. Herb was inducted into the MMTC Hall of Fame in 1998, and was a 2011 recipient of the MMTC Extraordinary Service Award. His company, Syncom, received MMTC’s 2008 Award for Excellence in Financial Services.
“Herb’s life epitomizes the impact that minority enterprise, when supported, celebrated, and financed, can have on a people,” said MMTC President David Honig.
MMTC Vice President and COO Maurita Coley stated, “At a minimum, Herb’s life is a movement that parallels the momentous rise of minority ownership of the media and telecommunications industries, and his faith in the dreams of others. The best way we can honor Herb is to continue his work of promoting minority participation in the 21st century technologies.”
Debra L. Lee, President and CEO of BET, stated, “Herb’s influence in the black and Hispanic media landscape is unmatched. He is in large measure responsible for the success of BET Networks and Radio One – two of the largest brands in the media space. Herb was an industry icon, an extraordinary businessman, a true visionary, and a wise mentor. His influence and calculated investments in the media space will be felt long into the future.”
Cathy Hughes, Co-founder of Radio One and TV One, commented, “Herb was a firm lender, but he was patient, and nurturing. When I could not make my payments to Syncom, I pled with him to be patient with me, and I promised him that I would be the largest and most successful company in his portfolio. God has blessed me to make good on that promise.”
Herb’s numerous investments culminated in the acquisition of Iridium Satellite Corporation as part of a team of private investors who purchased Iridium from Motorola out of bankruptcy, then led Iridium to a turnaround success.
Herb’s closest friends include industry icons BET Founder Bob Johnson and former FCC Commissioner Tyrone Brown.
He is survived by his wife, Sheran; three children, Herbert II, Monique, and Michelle; and seven grandchildren.
Services for Mr. Herbert P. Wilkins, Sr.:
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
4pm – 8pm
Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Services PA
5151 Baltimore National Pike
Baltimore, MD 21229
St. Johns Baptist Church
9055 Tamar Drive
Columbia, MD 21045
410-992-6977 or 301-596-5571
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Family Hour: 11am – 12pm
Services: 12pm – 2pm
Interment directly following the service
For more information concerning Mr. Wilkins or to contact the Wilkins family, please contact:
Rochelle D. Baker
Syndicated Communications, Inc.
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The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications and broadband industries, and closing the digital divide. MMTC is generally recognized as the nation’s leading advocate for minority advancement in communications.