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Capital Buzz: Adding to Leonsis's partners

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By Thomas Heath
Monday, January 10, 2011

Roger Mody remembers sneaking under the bedcovers as a young boy in his Alexandria bedroom, listening to Frank Herzog calling the Washington Bullets games on Mody's transistor radio.

Now Mody, 47, owns a piece of the Wizards. He also owns a chunk of the Capitals, the Verizon Center and the rest of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, the Ted Leonsis-led $850 million local sports conglomerate.

"I decided it was my one last time to own a local franchise that's in my back yard," said the tech mogul, who sold Signal Corp. to General Dynamics in 2002 for $227 million. "I pursued Ted and really wanted to join he and his partners. And he was kind enough to give me a chance to invest."

Entrepreneur Mody, who attended Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax, and Earl Stafford, 62, chief executive of the Wentworth Group, have bought an ownership stake in Monumental. It brings the number of owners to 17, with Leonsis owning the biggest share by far.

Mody heads the Mody Foundation, which funds education, athletics and health programs for disadvantaged children.

. Stafford is former chairman and chief executive of Unitech, which sold simulation technology for advanced training in the U.S. military. He currently serves on several boards, including Drexel University and Business Executives for National Security.

In addition to Chairman Leonsis, Monumental investors include Washington Capitals President Dick Patrick, Monumental Vice Chairman Raul Fernandez, Washington Mystics President Sheila Johnson and the following partners: Richard Kay, Jeong H. Kim, Richard D. Fairbank, Michelle DiFebo Freeman, Jack Davies, Anthony P. Nader, Fredrick D. Schaufeld, Scott Brickman, Clifford A. White, Albert H. Cohen, Neil D. Cohen, Mark D. Lerner and George Stamas.

The coolest part of investing in Monumental, said Mody, "is being part-owner of a public trust that plays a highly relevant role in the D.C. metropolitan area, which is where I've lived all my life."

Speaking of Fernandez

The Monumental Sports vice chairman was in Las Vegas last week for the Consumer Electronics Show, where "one of the neatest things was from a company called BPG Motors. It was an electric scooter with two wheels, and at a certain speed it transforms into a three-wheeler," said Fernandez. "It kind of looks like a Segway. It balances itself on three wheels."

Fernandez, Venturehouse Group founder Mark Ein and Michael Powell, former Federal Communications Commission chairman, were checking out all the latest technology at the Las Vegas gadget-fest.

"It was tablets, tablets everywhere," said Fernandez. "A lot of iPad wannabees. 3-D is huge too. Every manufacturer has a 3-D TV."

Judging by the crowd in Las Vegas, the economy is bouncing back.

"Hotels, restaurants, cab lines were all full," Fernandez said. "I came [to CES] in 2009 and had a last-minute room for $129 with food at the Wynn. Now it's almost impossible to get a room."

The Buzz Hears:

District private investment firm Key Bridge Partners sold Greencastle, Pa.-based Mitchell Machine Shop last week to APX of Mercersburg, Pa. Key Bridge is led by Robert A. Maruszewski.

Crofton, Md.-based computer consulting firm Force 3 adds a pair of senior employees. Jon Kim will be practice director of security consulting, and Missy Koslosky joins as senior solutions architect. Kim will lead the company's growing security practice; Koslosky has experience in the federal and private sectors, with an expertise in Microsoft messaging and Microsoft Exchange.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop, with 37 locations in the metro area, opens at Union Station later this month.

How marriages are made

Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, and former AOL chairman and entrepreneur Steve Case (and Klain's former boss) dined on salads in the White House mess last month in one of their periodic lunches.

Klain said he was starting to think about leaving the White House.

"That's funny, because I was thinking about creating a new position here (at Case's Revolution LLC investment vehicle) and who might fill this job," Case said, according to Klain.

Over the following weeks, they agreed that Klain would return to work for Case, with whom he worked from 2005 to 2009.

"A perfect coincidence," said Klain, who announced last week he was leaving Biden to return later this month to become president of Case Holdings.

And what is Klain's biggest business takeaway from the White House?

"People, people, people, people, people," said Klain. "It isn't about picking your team once. It's something you are constantly doing. The day you have your team in place is the day you need to start thinking about who is going to replace those people when they leave. You can never have enough great people."

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