Family and Origins
Marc as a Kid
Marc Bell was a terrible student. He barely graduated high school and almost didn’t finish college. For whatever reason, the standard, highly structured environments of his public schooling just didn’t meet his learning style.
That’s why, for most of his time in school, he was told that he would never amount to anything.
Of course, that’s not to say that he was a slacker as a kid. Actually, in high school he was already a computer whiz. He consulted for professional companies and was a guest lecturer—as a high school student—at Fordham University. When he turned 16, he took a job at the first Apple store in the NYC area. Although he was hired as a janitor, it was a foot in the door that enabled him to learn the business and work his way up to computer repairs and sales.
Looking back, it’s fair to say that his teenage hobbies and hard-working attitude were indicative of his future. At just 18 years old, Marc started his first small businesses to make extra cash. His love for technology led him to become editor-in-chief for his college newspaper, which he enabled to become the first college paper to use desktop publishing. He founded the New England Collegiate Newspaper Association. In graduate school, he turned NYU’s student newspaper into the High Tech Daily, which generated tons of positive press for the university.
By this time, Marc’s teachers and advisers no longer doubted his future. He earned a spot in the top 10 of his post-graduate class, having gained incredible experience in computer technology and news media along the way.
Becoming a Businessman
So, like any new grad full of big plans, Marc immediately started a new company. NAFT International Ltd. specialized in publishing and pre-press services for newspapers. Within a year, NAFT had earned business with Harper Collins North America and Absolut Vodka, and had acquired six newspapers. Marc expanded and renamed the company as NAFT Computer Service Corp., which provided onsite service and training, and secured new clients including the New York Weekly, New York Metro Computer Press, Vertex (with Bally’s Health and Fitness).
Although his publishing business was booming, Marc wanted to pursue his first love—technology and telecommunications. So once more, he created his own company, PFM Communications. He created the Internet’s first live-broadcast streaming service, which led him to land the web hosting accounts for Penthouse and a suite of Microsoft websites. Marc’s business successes grew year over year, and he finally merged five surviving companies into Bell Technology Group, which went public in 1996.
In 1998, Bell Technology Group was renamed to Globix – The Global Internet Exchange. Globix grew to become the world’s largest technology company, with 28,000 miles of submarine cables running to Europe. Marc cashed out of Globix in 2000 when the company was in its prime with a $2.5 billion dollar market cap (comparatively speaking, Apple’s market cap at the time was just $250 million).
After taking a few years off, Marc was presented with the opportunity to purchase Penthouse. Having worked with the company prior, Marc was familiar and confident in the business. He took the chance and, over eight years, grew Penthouse to become the 14th most-trafficked website group in the world, beating out eBay, Amazon, Twitter and even Apple.
Peer Pressure to Succeed
Knowing as many people as he does, Marc is always presented with new ideas and opportunities. It’s how he comes to be involved in so many industries. For instance, he and a few successful buddies got together to create his first special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), called Enterprise Acquisition. After a nail-biting two years, Enterprise finally merged with Bear Stearns and Lehmen Brothers Holdings Inc. to become ARMOUR Residential REIT. ARMOUR started with $25 million in assets and today has more than $16 billion—making it one of the largest REITs in the U.S. … and making Enterprise the most successful SPAC to date.
And his work in Broadway? It all started at the request of a friend, who asked Marc to invest in a show called Jersey Boys. Marc promised he would, and now the show has become the largest grossing production in Broadway history. He fell in love with the industry, and since then, has produced many others, including August: Osage County; Rock of Ages; and Fiddler on the Roof.
Marc continues to meet new partners and create new companies in all industries. He currently manages businesses spanning retail, technology, hospitality, financial planning and much more.
According to Marc
Marc is the first to admit that his success is a lucky combination of having the right interests, being in the right place and knowing the right people. “Visit new places. Network with people. Be nice to people, and I mean everyone, even complete strangers,” he said. “Go out of your way to help people. You never know who you’ll meet.”
And in regards to starting a business, Marc swears that it’s not enough to have big goals. “Don’t start a business because you want to take it public,” he said. “Start one because you believe in it. Sell your car; mortgage your home; rent your kids (kidding). Chances are that if you believe that strongly in something, then others will, too.”
August 23, 1967 – Marc was born in Brooklyn, New York to parents Ruth and Bob Bell.
1984 – At age 16, Marc took a job as a janitor at the first Apple store in the NYC area. He was quickly promoted to work in computer repair and sales.
1984 – Marc’s computer knowledge was so impressive that he was often hired to consultant for various professional companies, and to appear as a guest lecturer at Fordham University.
1985 – Marc graduated from Scarsdale High School.
1986 – Marc started his first business—a newspaper printing and distribution plant—at 18 years old.
1988 – Marc graduated from Babson College with his Bachelor’s in Accounting.
1989 – Marc graduated with his Master’s in Real Estate Development and Finance from New York University in the top 10 of his class, and immediately starts NAFT International Ltd., specializing in publishing and pre-press services for newspapers.
1989 – NAFT International was created to sell hardware, software and peripherals. It grew to become Apple’s largest value added reseller in NYC, specializing in pre-press for publishing, advertising and printing. NAFT expanded to include advanced computers from Silicon Graphics, Sun and Integraph, and moves from publishing to 3D imaging systems.
1993 – Stellar Graphics Corp. is formed as a newspaper print broker and pre-production facility. Stellar printed over 60 newspapers every week in NYC.
1994 – GameNet debuted as the first multiplayer online service dedicated to Macintosh games.
1995 – NAFT Computer Services Corp. was created primarily a service, support and training operation, in response to the need to learn about new technologies. NAFT also provided depot and on-site repair services, making it the largest computer repair facility of its kind in NYC.
1995 – PFM Communications, Inc. was founded as a diversified Internet solutions provider in New York City, offering sophisticated Internet connectivity for direct, high-speed connections and World Wide Web hosting at a state-of-the-art Network Operations Center. PFM also offered a complete range of Internet consulting services.
1995 – Stellar Graphics was renamed to Bluestreak. It began producing broadcast quality 2D and 3D animation, interactive CD-ROM presentations and high-impact web sites. Bluestreak built one of few motion capture studios in New York City area.
1996 – Bell Technology Group was formed as the parent company for all of Marc Bell’s holdings (including NAFT, PFM, GameNet and Bluestreak). Bell Technology Group raised net proceeds of approximately $7.4 million through an initial public offering of its common stock.
1998 – Bell Technology Group is renamed to Globix – The Internet Exchange, and the company undertook a major expansion to aggressively pursue opportunities resulting from tremendous growth of the Internet. After completing a $160 million debt financing to fund expansion of facilities and acquisition and build-out of its network backbone, Globix opened operations centers in New York, London and California.
1999 – Marc is appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Museum of Moving Images. His tenure on the board lasts until 2002.
2000 – Globix has become the world’s largest logical peer with a market cap in excess of $2.5 billion, with 28,000 miles of submarine fiber cables and over one million square feet of Internet Data Center space. Having realized his goals, in 2001 Marc stepped down from his position at Globix to enjoy an early retirement.
2001 – Marc was appointed to the Board of Directors for New York University. He remains on the board today. He simultaneously joined the Board of Directors for New York University’s Langone Medical Center until 2015, when he was appointed to the Board of Overseers. The same year, Marc joined the Board of Directors for Babson College, as well as the Citizen Budget Commission, which he stayed with until 2003.
2003 – Realizing he has too much left to build, Marc leaves retirement to found Marc Bell Capital Partners LLC, an investment firm which invests in media and entertainment ventures, real estate and distressed assets.
2004 – Marc invests in a show called Jersey Boys, which today shows all signs of becoming the highest-grossing Broadway show in history. He and other investors went on to win Tony Awards, Grammy Awards, Drama Desk Awards and more. Marc continues to produce new Broadway shows, including The Wedding Singer, August: Osage County, Rock of Ages, Fiddler on the Roof and more.
2004 – Marc purchases Penthouse Media Group and, over the next eight years, grows it to become the 14th-most-trafficked website group in the world, beating out eBay, Amazon, Twitter and even Apple.
2007 – Marc creates Enterprise Acquisition Corp., a SPAC whose purpose is to merge or acquire another company and take it public. Marc serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of Enterprise until 2009, when Enterprise merges with ARMOUR Residential REIT. Marc grew ARMOUR from an original net worth of $25 million up to $16 billion—making it the most successful SPAC to date.
2008 – Marc joined the Board of Trustees for Pine Crest School until 2012.
2012 – Marc retired from FriendFinder Networks
2012 – Marc accepts a role on the Board of Directors for JAVELIN Mortgage Investment Corp.
2014 – Marc joins the Boca Raton Police Foundation’s Board of Directors
2015 – Bell has indirectly owned a minority limited partnership interest in ACM
2015 – Marc becomes a partner at KYBOE!, makers of the biggest, boldest and brightest fashion watches on the planet.
2015 – Joins the Board of Directors for the Boca Raton Museum of Art and SOS Children’s Villages of Florida.
2015 – Marc creates his second SPAC, named Voyager Acquisition Corp., which will invest $300 million to bring a new company public.