Mark Paul Frissora (born August 1955) is an American business executive and philanthropist currently known as the CEO of Caesars Entertainment, a major casino and gambling conglomerate based in Las Vegas. Prior to his July 2015 appointment as Caesars' CEO, he started his career working in various management positions for General Electric, Philips Lighting Company, and Aeroquip-Vickers.
He served as CEO of Tenneco from 2000 until 2006, and from 1999 to 2006, Tenneco's revenue rose 39 percent to $4.4 billion. Frissora subsequently served as CEO of The Hertz Corporation from 2006 until September 2014, also serving as the company's chairman from January 1, 2007 until he stepped down in September 2014. While with Hertz, Frissora was named one of Business Travel News’ Most Influential Business Travel Executives of 2012. Involved with organizations such as the Business Roundtable, the World Economic Forum, McKinsey’s CEO Advisory Council, and the G100, in 2012 he was awarded Oliver R. Grace Award for Distinguished Service in Advancing Cancer Research.
Early life and education
Mark Paul Frissora was born in August 1955 in Columbus, Ohio, where he spent his childhood. He earned a BA from Ohio State University and later attended Babson College (in Massachusetts) and the Thunderbird School of Management (in Arizona), completing executive development programs at both institutions.
Early management roles (1977-2000)
Starting in 1977, he spent 10 years in marketing, sales, and brand management at General Electric, holding the roles until 1987. From 1987-91, he worked in a variety of management positions at Philips Lighting Company, including director of sales and director of marketing. He was with Aeroquip-Vickers as vice president from 1991-96.
In 1996, he moved to Tenneco, where he served in several management positions, starting with VP of North American emissions control operations for Walker Manufacturing. He served as senior VP and general manager of Tenneco's worldwide original equipment business from 1998 until March 1999. Frissora was appointed CEO of Tenneco Inc. in April 1999, as well as president of Tenneco's automotive operations. In November 1999 he was appointed to Tenneco's board of directors as well, and elected chairman in March of 2000. According to The Press of Atlantic City years later, at the time of Frissora's appointments Tenneco Automotive had been "circling the drain" and struggling with significant debt. The Press of Atlantic City reported that Frissora was selected as CEO because he was known for "leaning things out — for identifying process flaws by looking beyond the balance sheet to reengineer what’s actually happening on the ground at a company’s plants."
Growth at Tenneco (2001-06)
As Tenneco's CEO and chairman, he targeted growth markets and diversify revenue streams. By 2004 he had helped create a diversity of platforms, geography, customers, markets and product lines at Tenneco, and Tenneco had also improved the market share positions for a number of its products. However, in 2004, Tenneco earned net income of $13 million, a 52% drop from 2003 attributed to restructuring changes and higher steel costs. The following year marked "the first time Tenneco put together two consecutive profitable years since the current configuration of the company was launched in 1999."
Tenneco's share price had tripled by February 2005 since 1999, and around that time the company earned two top Automotive Industry shareholder awards for delivering the highest one-year and three-year shareholder returns of any automotive supplier. By July 2006, Tenneco's revenue had risen 39 percent from 1999 to $4.4 billion. The Press of Atlantic City attributed much of the success to Frissora, writing that he achieved the value by "homing in on strong sectors of the parts market — investing heavily in lucrative emission-control products; ramping-up operations in China's bourgeoning auto market; and aligning Tenneco with Japanese carmakers, who were capturing a sizable share of North American auto sales."
Appointment to Hertz CEO (2006-2013)
In July 2006, Frissora was appointed as the CEO of The Hertz Corporation, a global American-headquartered car rental company, on the eve of Hertz's initial public offering (IPO). In January 2007, Frissora was also was appointed chairman. Frissora subsequently oversaw the company through a number of major transitions. By July 2008, Hertz had "exceeded Wall Street expectations" for six consecutive quarters. That summer Hertz offered discounts on gasoline and other fees in order to make car rental more customer-friendly and affordable. Frissora oversaw the acquisition of Donlen Corporation, a fleet leasing company, in 2011. In November of that year Hertz introduced ExpressRent kiosks, in what was the first large-scale deployment of live video chat in car rental kiosks.
Other strategic developments during Frissora's tenure included engineering Hertz's November 2012 acquisition of Dollar-Thrifty Automotive Group for $2.6 billion, after a two-year bidding war with Avis Budget Group. The deal significantly expanded Hertz's car rental brand portfolio and yielded combined annual sales of US$10,200,000,000. As part of the deal, Hertz also sold its low-cost Advantage brand and gave up 29 Dollar Thrifty airport locations.
According to Reuters at the time, "the acquisition is expected to save the merged company at least $160 million annually and cement Hertz's No. 2 position in the global car rental rankings." Hertz's shareholder value increased significantly during this period, and by May 2013 Hertz had realized a return of 230% on their shares since going public. Frissora credited both the Donlen and Dollar Thrifty acquisitions with enabling Hertz to broaden its market reach, as well as lease in new markets, begin consulting on fleet management, and manage fleet acquisitions and dispositions more efficiently.
Expansion of Hertz Corporation (2013-2014)
In May 2013, Frissora announced that Hertz would relocate to Estero, Florida from New Jersey, with the new building to combine staff from both Dollar Thrifty and Hertz and be completed in 2016. By November 2013, Hertz was the "largest publically [sic] traded rental-car operator in the United States." Hertz states revenue increased 34 percent, to $10.8 billion, between 2006 and 2013. Also by that time worldwide car rental revenues went up 37% to $8.7 billion, U.S. off-airport locations doubled, revenues increased by 45%, and locations increased from 7,600 to 11,200. Reuters wrote in 2014 that Frissora was "credited for the shrewd acquisitions that helped Hertz to grow into a $12.7 billion company - more than two-and-a-half times its value when it listed in 2006, shortly after Frissora took the helm."
In the summer of 2014, activist investors at Hertz asserted they lacked confidence in management due to reported "accounting mistakes and internal control issues" and pushed for board and management replacements, including Frissora. Citing personal reasons, he resigned as CEO, chairman, and a director on September 8, 2014, officially leaving the roles in November. Hertz asserted Frissora's departure was "without cause".
Appointment to Caesar's CEO (2015)
In February 2015 Caesars Entertainment Corporation announced that Frissora would be replacing Gary Loveman as their new CEO and president, effective July 1, 2015. Frissora immediately joined the board and Loveman temporarily remained Caesars' chairman to help with the transition. Although Caesars had been the world's largest casino company a decade earlier, the Wall Street Journal noted that by 2015 the company's revenues had suffered from a failure to expand sufficiently in burgeoning Asian markets, as well as billions in debt incurred in a 2008 buyout. Several weeks prior to Frissora's January appointment, the company's casino operating unit had voluntarily filed for reorganization through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
As CEO designee, from February to July 2015 Frissora stated he "visited most of [Caesars] domestic properties, met with all of the company's senior leaders," and focused on "identifying new opportunities to drive growth and efficiency." He recently joined the board of Caesars Entertainment Corporation and has also been appointed president and CEO of Caesars Enterprise Services (CES), as well as the CES Steering Committee.
Push for new gaming platforms (2016)
After he officially took on the role of CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment, in September 2015 the press quoted Frissora at the Global Gaming Expo stating he had been "shocked" with the lack of innovation in the casino industry at large, noting a lack of marketing that targeted millennials. At the conference, he announced new experiments by Caesars to appeal to younger gamblers, including a "casino within a casino" on the Las Vegas Strip with walls that could be easily moved to change the feel of the space.
He added they would be pursuing "skill-based slots," recently legalized by the state of Nevada, and that the company was "experimenting with changing traditional slot machine playing by involving social game features such as leaderboards that track high-point players." Under Frissora's leadership, in November 2015, Caesars announced it would cede management of its Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, and ThistleDown Racino resorts to Rock Gaming, with the transfer to be completed by June 2016. As of October 2016, Frissora continued to focus on bringing in new games to appeal to younger casino customers. According to The Economist, among other projects he "wants to open up their gaming platforms to allow young players to choose their games and compete against each other on the casino floor," with "skill-based" shoot-em-ups and "video-game gambling machines" from companies such as GameCo. In November 2016, Caesars Entertainment announced that it had "surpassed its Green Key certification goal" by having 90 percent, or thirty total, of its properties in North America be rated "4 Key" or higher in terms of sustainability.
Frissora attributed the rating to the company's "CodeGreen team" employed to reduce the resorts' environmental impact, and a "strong corporate commitment to sustainable practices."
Non-executive board and council memberships
Frissora has been involved with a number of boards and organizations beyond his direct employers. In June 2002 he joined of the board of NCR Corporation, holding a directorship at NCR until November 2009. He became a director of FMC Corporation in January 2004, a role he held until August 2006. In December 2009, he became a director at both Delphi Automotive PLC, and Delphi Holdings LLP, also joining Delphi's finance committee and their nominating and governance committee. Furthermore, in December 2009 he became a director of Walgreens Boots Alliance, holding the position until April 1, 2015.
As a Walgreen Co. director, he was chairman of their finance committee as of 2014, as well as a member of their nominating and governance committee. He was chairman of Walgreens finance committee until he left the board in April 2015.
He has been a member of the Business Roundtable since before 2005, and is on the World Economic Forum's Automotive Board of Governors. He is also a member of the G100.
Recognition and awards
Frissora was named No. 5 on Business Travel News’ list of the 25 Most Influential Business Travel Executives of 2012. In addition, he was presented with the 2012 Oliver R. Grace Award for Distinguished Service in Advancing Cancer Research by the Cancer Research Institute.
Born and raised in Colombus, Ohio, Frissora and his wife, Jennifer, have several children. Their son, Christopher, is married to Emma Bloomberg, daughter of billionaire activist and former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.