Everybody wants to talk to Randall Kaplan, co-founder of Internet-content software company Akamai Technologies and founder of the investment network Jump Investors. On Jan. 25, Kaplan delivered an hour-long speech to The Jewish Federation's Hi-Tech Division breakfast at Westwood's Regency Club and spent well over an hour afterward meeting, greeting and giving advice to the young professionals at the networking event.
In his speech, Kaplan told of how he shifted from legal work to a sort of CEO training school by landing a position as assistant to SunAmerica's Eli Broad. He did it by carefully researching and writing one letter each week to a different L.A.-area CEO. Broad was so impressed with his drive that Kaplan landed the job despite his lack of business experience. From there, Kaplan's success helping to create two successful companies was again a matter of hard work combined with meeting and cultivating relationships with the right people.
Following the event, Kaplan emphasized the people-centered nature of his work, both in business and in his philanthropy. Kaplan founded and has led organizing efforts for The Justice Ball, a benefit for Bet Tzedek Legal Services that raised $700,000 last year. He said, "That's a large dollar figure, but in addition to the money, it's gotten a whole new group of Jewish and non-Jewish people involved and raised [Bet Tzedek's] profile. Of all the things I've done, that's what I'm most proud of."
He added, "It's not about the money. People focus too much on the money. If everyone spent a few hours a week helping other people, the world would be a better place; not everyone does." For Kaplan, time and personal relationships are more than equal to money.