Robert J. Pera (born March 10, 1978) is the founder of Ubiquiti Networks, Inc. a global communications technology company that Pera took public in 2011. In October 2012, Pera also became the owner of the Memphis Grizzlies, when he purchased the National Basketball Association franchise from Michael Heisley. At the age of 36, Pera earned a spot on Forbes’ list of 10 youngest billionaires in the world.
Early life and education
Pera established his first computer services company while attending high school. That company provided networking and database services to local businesses. Pera also played on his high school’s basketball team until a heart condition, which has long since resolved, kept him home for a year. After high school, Pera attended the University of California, San Diego, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a B.A. in Japanese Language. He stayed on at the University of California, San Diego and completed his masters in Electrical Engineering with an emphasis on Digital Communications and Circuit Design.
After graduation, Pera, who admired Steve Jobs, secured a job at Apple Inc., where he tested the company’s Wi-Fi devices to ensure compliance with Federal Communications Commission standards for electromagnetic emissions. While working at Apple, Pera noticed that the power sources that Apple's WiFi devices used to throw signals were far below FCC limits. Boosting their power, he reasoned, could increase their transmission range to over dozens of miles, which could facilitate Internet access in areas that telephone and cable companies don’t reach. When his bosses at Apple Inc. ignored his idea, Pera decided to build his own low-cost, high performance WiFi module. For the next year, Pera spent his nights and weekends in his apartment testing prototypes. By early 2005 he was ready to start his own business and he left Apple Inc. to form Ubiquiti Networks.
Pera founded Ubiquiti Networks in March 2005 using only $30,000 of personal savings and credit card debt. Ubiquiti’s early products utilized existing WiFi technology to wirelessly deliver the Internet to underserved areas (e.g., rural areas and emerging markets) lacking the infrastructure to access the Internet through traditional avenues such as phone lines and cable lines. The company has since successfully branched out into other product lines such as wireless access points, security cameras and traditional networking equipment (e.g., switches and routers).
On June 11, 2012, sources told ESPN.com that Michael Heisley had an agreement in principle to sell the Memphis Grizzlies to Robert Pera. The official sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to Pera was approved on October 25, 2012. Building on the successes of his predecessor, Michael Heisley, Pera has made significant investments into the Grizzlies, bolstering its business and basketball operations teams and transforming the Grizzlies into a world class organization. Under Pera’s stewardship, the Grizzlies have experienced success, including a club-record 56-win season and the club’s first appearance in the Western Conference Finals. The Grizzlies have also won more playoff games during Pera’s two-year tenure than during the 17 seasons prior.
Pera is a strong supporter of the Grizzlies Foundation, a sports charity which operates in Memphis.