Capital Buzz: These are happy days for Ted Leonsis

For Ted Leonsis, happiness is ...

A.) Watching his Washington Capitals defeat the Boston Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a good omen that could — maybe, just maybe — help Washington’s NHL club turn a profit this year.

B.) Watching his (woeful) Washington Wizards win five games in a row, and awarding a new contract to Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld — who is building a new team through draft picks and by acquiring young talent.

C.) The subject of a book he wrote a couple of years ago called “The Business of Happiness: 6 Secrets to Extraordinary Success in Life and Work.”

Or D.) Closing — as he did earlier this month — on a $6.7 million house on the island of Nantucket, just a slap shot from Carlyle Group co-founder David Rubenstein’s spread. (Last year, the sports mogul paid $20 million for a 13-acre Maryland estate along the Potomac.)

The answer last week was all of the above.

Fairfax down under

Speaking of Leonsis ... Surefire Social, run by two of Leonsis’s former colleagues at AOL — Chris Marentis and Ron Peele — is unveiling Surefire Social Australia at the Melbourne Internet Marketing conference April 30 and May 1.

Fairfax-based Surefire helps local businesses generate leads by designing their Web sites, coaching them on search engines and guiding them through social media.

Clients pay a monthly retainer for the services. Surefire has grown from four employees to 20 since its founding in 2008.

Both Marentis and Peele have worked in the chain of command for Leonsis and his friend and business partner Steve Case, the former chairman of AOL.

Marentis has worked at four start-ups, including as chief executive at Leonsis’s Clearspring Technologies before starting Surefire Social. He worked in AOL’s Interactive Marketing group for Case.

Peele, who is Surefire’s chief operating officer, helped launch the venture capital group at AOL, and helped Case launch Revolution Health before signing on with Surefire last November.

Marentis said he and Peele have funded the company themselves, but will be on the hunt for additional investors to expand the company within the year.

The Buzz Hears:

Two dozen employees from Walker & Dunlop, the Bethesda-based real estate finance company, were headed toward Gettysburg at press time to compete in the American Odyssey 200-mile relay race.

The race starts in the battlefields of Gettysburg, winds through the Pennsylvania countryside, through the battlefields of Antietam and down the C&O Canal to the finish at the District waterfront. Walker Chairman Willy Walker said most teams — there are around 130 competing — take between 24 and 30 hours to complete the nonstop trip.

The relays legs for runners range between four and eight miles.

Walker is fielding two 12-person teams: one men’s and one women’s.

Leonsis isn’t the only one buying vacation homes. Chris Paladino, chief executive of Crofton-based Chesapeake Bay Roasting Co., bought a vacation home in the mountains of Panama.

“We fell in love with the people, the weather and the coffee,” said Paladino, 45. “We’re hoping to find some new sources of coffee beans. And I can’t wait to spend more time on the patio trying different javas.”

Entrepreneur/restaurateur Bo Blair — he runs Surfside and Jetties — is gearing up for this year’s first Truckeroo of the season on May 11 at Fairgrounds, across from Nationals Park. There will be 20 food trucks parked all day, offering fare such as barbecue, lobster rolls and empanadas.

“The Nationals are off to a great start, and new neighborhood restaurants are opening and there is a strong vibe down here that hasn’t been here since the stadium opened,” Blair said.

Factoid of the Week

LivingSocial, the District-based daily deals Web site, hosted an average of 18 new hires/trainees a week in D.C. in 2011. Nearly all stayed in a hotel for five nights. The math — 18 employees times five nights times 52 weeks — comes to 4,680 hotel nights.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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