James Jannard is an enigmatic and fascinating character in the world of both business and innovation. The American designer and businessman is known far and wide as the founder of Oakley Inc. and RED Digital Cinema. However, there’s a lot more beneath the surface of this high-profile entrepreneur. Let’s dive into the top 10 facts you may not have known about James Jannard.

1. He initiated his career with motorcycles

Before James Jannard became the face behind the $2bn sunglass exchange, he began as an enthusiast in the motorcycle industry. His inclination towards motocross and other biking sports led him to develop an innovative handle bar grip in 1975. The handlebar grip named ‘Oakley Grip’ showed tremendous performance compared to the traditional grips in adverse conditions.

This was where the Oakley name came from. He named the company after his beloved dog. This small invention spiraled into a journey of innovation, ultimately leading Jannard to found Oakley Inc., a brand that became synonymous with high-quality sports gear.

2. One of the wealthiest people in the U.S

Apart from achievements in product innovation, Jannard is a commercial success too. As of 2021, he is included in the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest people in America. His net worth runs into billions, all thanks to the success of Oakley Inc. and RED Digital Cinema.

After selling Oakley Inc. to Luxottica Group for a cool $2.1 billion in 2007, Jannard pocketed a large sum massively enlarging his personal fortune. These successful endeavors have made him a true titan in the world of business.

3. He revolutionized digital cinema

After the success of Oakley, Jannard set his sights on the film industry. In 2005, driven by a passion for filmmaking, he founded RED Digital Cinema. The company completely transformed the industry, offering filmmakers high resolution, professional-grade digital cameras at a fraction of the cost of traditional film cameras.

The cameras produced by his company are used by some of the top filmmakers in the world. Their models have been used in the creation of countless blockbuster movies, documentaries, and music videos. This invention puts James Jannard on the map as a true trailblazer in the cinema industry.

4. He’s a man of substantial real estate

James Jannard is as shrewd in real estate as he is in business. Apart from owning several properties in Newport Coast and Beverly Hills, he owns a personal island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State. Named Spieden Island, the property spans over 500 acres and is home to various exotic species of animals.

He has made substantial investments in luxury real estate throughout his career, with properties scattered across the globe, adding to his expansive investment portfolio. If this doesn’t represent the lifestyle of the ultra-rich, we don’t know what does.

5. He is a recluse

Despite his high profile positions in industries, Jannard is very private about his personal life. He rarely makes public appearances or gives interviews. This has earned him a reputation as somewhat of a recluse, not unlike famous personalities such as Steve Jobs.

He prefers his work and innovations to take the spotlight, allowing them to speak volumes about his dedication, creativity, and vision. This sense of mystery only adds to his fascinating persona.

6. He values philanthropy

Apart from making a difference in various industries, Jannard is no stranger to philanthropy. He has actively utilized a portion of his considerable wealth to help areas stricken by disasters such as hurricanes. In 2017, after the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Irma, he donated $1 million to help victims.

His generosity extends beyond merely his financial contributions. He is actively involved in supporting initiatives that protect the environment and has made major contributions to conservation efforts for various endangered species.

7. He is a self-made billionaire

Jannard didn’t inherit wealth or a business empire. Instead, he built his fortune on the back of his own ingenuity and hard work, beginning with a $300 investment to start Oakley Inc. His innovative thinking, relentless drive, and unwavering faith in his vision propelled him to the level of self-made billionaire he is today.

James is a perfect example of an entrepreneur who started from scratch and made his way to the top. His journey is an inspiration for anyone to dream big and pursue relentlessly.

8. He has won several awards

Jannard doesn’t just make money, he’s also recognized for his strategic mind and innovative thinking in various industries. He won the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award in the Orange County/Desert Cities region in 1997 for his role in leading Oakley Inc.

With RED Digital Cinema, he made his mark again when the company bagged the Scientific and Engineering Award from the Academy. These laurels reflect the incredible impact Jannard has had on both industries and his revolutionary vision.

9. He founded Oakley in his own garage

Jannard began his entrepreneurial journey with a mere $300 in his garage. He started Oakley as a sole proprietorship, designing and manufacturing everything from the grip to various other motorcycle parts.

From such modest beginnings to the spectacle-selling giant that it is today, Jannard has shown the world that success doesn’t depend on where you start or the resources you have but instead on resilience, vision, and determination.

10. He is extremely passionate and driven

Jannard’s work and creation over the years have demonstrated his passion for learning, exploring, and challenging the status quo. Be it sports equipment or digital cinema, every time Jannard steps into a new industry, he disrupts it.

He’s not just a successful businessman but is a visionary who continuously strives to bring about change and innovation in whatever industry he ventures into. Be it the stunning sunglasses that adorn sports icons or the high-resolution cameras that empower filmmakers, Jannard’s creations continue to bring joy to people around the globe.

James Jannard is a beacon of proof that with sheer determination and passion, every milestone is achievable. His subtle combination of brilliance, innovation, tenacity, and, most importantly, a passion to make a difference, make him the inspiration he is today.

As we trace his journey, from a small-time manufacturer of motorcycle parts to the founder of billion-dollar companies, James Jannard undoubtedly serves as an icon of the entrepreneurial spirit and an enduring inspiration for future innovators and entrepreneurs.

Useful Links:
Forbes 400
RED Digital Cinema
Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year”