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Published March 20, 2006
By Ross Nethery
• Age: 38
• Title: Vice president of new media
• Company: PGA Tour
• Education: B.S., engineering, Illinois; MBA, Kellogg Graduate School of Management
• Family: Wife, Tami; daughters Nicole, 7; Paige, 5; Rachel, 2
• Career: Was a marketing representative for IBM from 1989-1992; was a principal at management consulting firm A.T. Kearney Inc. from 1994-98, and vice president of business development for Homestead.com from 1998-2000; joined the PGA Tour in 2000.
• Last vacation: Last fall, with my wife spending our 10th wedding anniversary in New York. We ate our way through New York City.
• Last book read: “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt
• Last movie seen: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” I haven’t seen the latest one because we wait to see each movie until my oldest daughter has read the book.
• Pet peeve: Missed deadlines
• Greatest achievement: Being a great father. I feel like I’m being a great dad while still putting a tremendous amount of passion and energy into my job.
• Fantasy job: I’d love to retire and have a second career as a basketball coach at the high school or college level. I’m passionate about the game.
• Executive most admired: Larry Probst, CEO of EA Sports
• Business advice: Bring passion to your work, work hard, deliver results, try to learn constantly and have fun.
One of the things Paul Johnson likes best about his job is that its possibilities seem endless. As vice president of new media for the Ponte Vedra, Fla.-based PGA Tour, Johnson is not only leading PGATour.com to new levels of readership and advertising, but is branching out to embrace opportunities ranging from video games to mobile devices to satellite radio.
In the last year, PGATour.com has grown 30 percent, to now reach more than 2 million fans each month. With partner XM Satellite Radio, the tour created and launched the PGA Tour Network. ("Even though it's only audio," Johnson said, "it still means building a new network.") And in the last four years, international new media partnerships have tripled, while video game licensing has quadrupled.
All of that is just a start on what eventually could be done, Johnson said.
But regardless of what may yet happen, his already lengthy list of accomplishments was enough to land Johnson on this year's Forty Under 40.
Looking back over the last few years, Johnson said he's most pleased about the chance to create new businesses with new partners, resulting in new opportunities for the tour.
"One of the reasons golf and new media is so cool is that a lot of the competition happens outside the television window," he said. "One of my biggest opportunities to capture that is to continually try to answer the question, 'How do I deliver that to our fan base?'"
One of the answers to that question was a project called Tourcast, an Internet application that delivers live statistical coverage of PGA Tour events. Tourcast won a 2005 Emmy Award for "advanced media technology in support of a television broadcast."
"It always comes back to the fan," Johnson said. "As consumer trends shift and change, it comes back to how we connect with these fans on this platform."
To help do that, Johnson takes great pains to make sure that the goals of the operation are clear not just to employees, but to potential business partners and customers.
"In this world, surprises are a bad thing," said Scot McLernon, senior vice president of advertising sales for CBS Digital Media, a new media partner of the PGA Tour. "Paul is a great communicator of what his expectations are."
Since joining the PGA Tour in 2000, Johnson's responsibilities have grown continually, noted Ed Moorhouse, COO and executive vice president of the organization.
"He plays an increasingly visible role in the leadership of our organization," Moorhouse said. "We admire his passion for his area of expertise, his vision and his grasp of all media platforms."
What that means for Johnson is more opportunity to expand the PGA Tour's business. Looking ahead, he said, "We have an opportunity to continue explosive growth."