Robert L. Johnson is the founder, chairman and CEO of BET Holdings II, Inc., the parent company of Black Entertainment Television and one of the leading Black-owned and operated media-entertainment companies in America. Although BET started on a frugal budget of thousands just two decades ago, the Washington, D.C.-based corporation now enjoys astonishing financial and strategic success since its inception in 1980. The company taps into the growing African-American consumer marketplace using a variety of its media properties. The company operates five major cable channels of which BET is the flagship operation. Black Entertainment Television is a 24-hour programming service targeting African-American consumers. It reaches over 61.4 million U.S. homes and more than 90 percent of all Black cable households. The corporation has leveraged its brand name outside the cable universe through its publishing arm, Vanguard Media, of which BET owns a sizeable stake. Its roster of magazines, include Heart & Soul, Honey, and Impact. BET.com is among the latest ventures and is an interactive Web site formed through a joint venture with Liberty Digital, News Corporation, USA Networks and Microsoft. BET began by broadcasting music videos in 1980 as only a two-hour network and 11 years later became the first Black-controlled company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The company has since gone private. It bought back all of its publicly traded stock. Since then, the company has diversified its holdings by moving into numerous industries including publishing, clothing, cosmetics, fine dining restaurants, film productions, the Internet and even the lottery in the Caribbean. With annual sales recently amounting to $170 million, this conglomerate of over 500 employees has truly arrived with Johnson owning 63 percent of the company.