Title and Organization:
Russ Pillar has 30+ years of experience repositioning and revitalizing a host of technology-driven global consumer brands. His strengths lie in building direct-to-consumer mission-driven businesses, grappling with the challenges of rapid growth, and managing the private-to-public company transition.
Russ currently serves as Executive Chairman of Reigning Champs, the world’s largest and most successful path-to-college company for student-athletes, which he founded in 2012. Powered by 850+ teammates and $100 million of private equity, Reigning Champs is a profit+purpose company that helped place more than 95,000 student-athletes across 34 sports in college, all while underwriting $23 million of services provided to those student-athletes most in need, all in the last year alone. He also is Senior Advisor to Mubadala Investment Company, the sovereign wealth fund of the United Arab Emirates (Abu Dhabi), where he helps initiate and evaluate investment opportunities globally.
Prior to founding Reigning Champs, Russ was Co-owner, President, and Director of the Los Angeles Marathon; President of the Viacom Digital Media Group; President and Chief Executive Officer of the CBS Internet Group; President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Entertainment Group; President and Vice Chairman of Prodigy Internet/Prodigy Communications Corporation; and President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Paul Allen’s Precision Systems. He’s been a member of the Board of Directors of more than three dozen public and private technology, media, entertainment, and sports companies including Prodigy Communications Corporation, the Virgin Entertainment Group, and the Los Angeles Marathon, among many others. His non-profit activities have included participation on the Board of Directors of the Brown University Sports Foundation (for which he also serves on the Executive Committee), the Brown University President’s Leadership Council, the Brown University Creative Arts Advisory Council, the Brown University Entrepreneurship Program Board of Directors, Running USA (where he chaired their National Youth Running Initiative), Heal the Bay, The Nature Conservancy (Idaho), and the Ronald McDonald House Children’s Charities (Florida), among others.
Russ graduated Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude from Brown University where he played on the University’s men’s rugby team, coached its women’s rugby team, and was a National Finalist in the Rhodes Scholarship Competition. The Brown Alumni Monthly named him one of the 100 alumni who had the greatest impact on the 20th century. Russ is a 2002 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.