Founder, IDT Corporation, with annual revenues of $1.8 billion;
pioneered reorigination industry known as int'l "callback."
Offers telephone service in 225+ countries. Sells over 265
million calling cards yearly with sales over $1 billion; markets
250+ brands of retail cards at 350,000 places worldwide.
B.A., economics, Harvard University; Graduate, Bronx High
School of Science
Married to Debbie, 9 children
Howard Jonas: From Hotdogs
to a Fortune 1000 Business
The 700 Club
On March 15, 1996, Howard made more than $100 million when his company, IDT,
went public on the New York Stock Exchange. IDT is one of the world's largest
Internet and alternative telecommunications providers. Four months later on
July 18, 1996, IDT released a new technology that cut the cost of international
calls by a remarkable 95 percent. That day Sara Grosvenor, the granddaughter
of Alexander Graham Bell, was with Howard in New York to place the highly
publicized first phone call ever over the network to Susan Cheever, the great-granddaughter
of Thomas Watson, in London.
When asked if either of these were the greatest moments of his business life,
Howard says no. That honor goes back to July 23, 1970, when at 14 years old,
Howard pushed his homemade hot dog stand to a spot on the hospital parking
lot. "In my mind, I was as rich as a Rockefeller," he says. Being
located near a methadone clinic and the Tender Trap bar, Howard says what
he loved most about the hot dog business was dealing with people and learning
how to treat them right. Key things he learned from this experience were as
follows: (1) If you have an idea, don't overprepare; just go for it; (2) Quality
is important; and (3) There's great potential locked inside everyone-give
it a chance to come out.
From hot dogs Howard moved on to travel brochure distribution, business-to-business
directories, mail-order bonsai Christmas trees, and soon ran one of the country's
largest direct mail businesses out of his dorm room at Harvard. When one of
his employees moved overseas, Howard backed into the international telephone
callback business. At Bronx High, Howard met his wife, Debbie, who also went
At age 33, Howard Jonas pioneered what is now a multibillion-dollar call
reorigination industry known as international "callback." This technology
lets callers bypass the high costs of placing international calls from countries
outside the U.S. With callback, users make international calls as if they
were dialing from the U.S. Today, IDT offers telephone service to customers
in over 225 countries worldwide. IDT (Former Int'l Discount Telecommunications)
is a leading provider of wholesale and retail telecommunications services,
using their own network infrastructure to route calls worldwide. IDT is comprised
of six distinct corporations: IDT, IDT Telecom, Winstar Communications LLC,
IDT Media, IDT Entertainment, and Net2Phone. Listed among the Fortune 1000,
IDT has almost no debt and cash reserves of more than $1 billion. In February
2001, IDT migrated from the NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange, which confirms
their status as a leading industry long-distance provider and underlined their
financial strength. IDT was among the first to anticipate the calling card
explosion of the last few years and expanded that industry.
IDT operates a call center in Israel at which they've assembled a group of
talented professionals capable of executing sophisticated customer relations.
Customer Service Management, Ltd. (CSM) offers a competitive call center solution
for business. Most agents have degrees and come from all backgrounds, providing
customers with multilingual access. Also CSM in Israel offers employment to
many in Israel during this difficult economic downturn. With the latest in
high-tech equipment, CSM offers multi-layered security for clients and customer
data. Being located in Israel allows IDT to offer superior service at competitive
prices. With a staff fluent in many languages and with facilities located
on three continents, their infrastructure is up 24/7 each day of the year.
Howard grew up in a non-observant household in the Bronx. He was thrown out
of Hebrew school for "being a troublemaker," but his grandmother
was observant and that affected him. "I always wanted to be observant,"
he recalls. He started going to Conservative shul on Friday nights in high
school. He finished Harvard in three years, and then moved to Riverdale in
1978 where he attended the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. He and his family
have an apartment in Israel where they spend each summer.
I'm Not the Boss
Howard has written a new book called I'm Not the Boss, I Just Work Here.
In it he shares how he learned the importance of the Bible as God's Word.
Howard explains that as a teenager he became "religiously observant"
and began to see the patterns of Biblical law in government and business.
One of the patterns he saw was the principle of the jubilee year - how farmland
must revert to the original owner's family, and how this principle resurfaced
itself in the Homestead Act in1862. This book is a personal exploration of
how following biblical principles, if followed as they were intended, ensures
morality and prosperity.
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