For some actors, the roles of real-life business executives and investors are a stretch. That’s not the case for John O’Hurley, who is best known for playing the eccentric catalog entrepreneur J. Peterman on TV’s “Seinfeld.”
In a life-imitates-art twist, O’Hurley became a venture capitalist in the real J. Peterman Co. The catalog company slipped into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2000, the year after “Seinfeld” ended, after it attempted to expand to brick-and-mortar stores. The company then revisited its catalog roots and later made its Internet debut. O’Hurley sunk funds into this venture, because he believes strongly in brands, and the brand was unique.
O’Hurley now considers himself to be a solution-driven venture capitalist. He looks for companies that have products or services that solve extraordinary problems, which lead to quick corporate growth. He backs Energy Inc., a manufacturer of systems that, he claims, can turn any type of waste (except nuclear) into usable energy, either electric or thermal, that has nearly zero emissions. His other venture is Politeview.com. The online video-delivery platform is designed to use smaller amounts of bandwidth and to be hack-proof, he says.
O’Hurley, who now stars in the musicals “Chicago” and “Spamalot” and hosts the National Dog Show, has about 60 percent of his investment portfolio in venture capital, 20 percent in residential real estate and the rest in tax-free municipal bonds and corporate debt “in areas that don’t trickle over in government’s far reaching control,” he says. He also is paying down debt.