Daniel Lubetzky is a Mexican-American businessman who will serve as a guest judge on the season premiere of Shark Tank. Lubetzky is one of a handful of new guest judges, and he will appear individually alongside series veterans like Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran and Daymond John.
In addition to being a successful businessman, Lubetzky is a philanthropist, author, and founder and CEO of the snack company Kind LLC. Read on to learn more about Lubetzky as he sits down with the other sharks, and determines which entrepreneurs to makes deals with.
Here’s what you need need to know about Daniel Lubetzky:
1. He Was Born In Mexico City & Earned His B.A. at Trinity University
Lubetzky was born in Mexico City in 1968. His father, Roman, was a Holocaust survivor who made made it through the Dachau concentration camp at the age of nine. Lubetzky told Financial Times that his father’s harrowing experiences were a motivating factor for him as a child. “I am compelled to try to build bridges to prevent what happened to my father from happening again,” he explained.
“It’s what drives me to try to build relationships, to not have enemies and be kind to everybody,” he added. “In a place where there is no humanity, strive thou to be human.” As a teenager, Lubetsky and his family moved to the United States. He attended Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he received his B.A. in economics and international relations. He would go on to study abroad in both Israel and France, and he earned his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1993. He was 25.
That same year, Lubetzky founded the organization known as PeaceWorks. The organization served as an arena for testing business ideas, as well as a vehicle for Lubetzky to acquaint himself with various international food sectors. He later said that he had to keep costs down in order to keep the organization profitable.
“I couldn’t afford not to,” he admitted. “In fact, there was a problem that I was so scrappy that we were not investing enough into growing.” PeaceWorks hit $1 million in revenue in the late 1990s, and Lubetzky still owns it, despite handing the management over to others. “It’s a very small business, but it’s still my baby,” he told Forbes.
2. Lubetzky Founded ‘KIND’ As a Healthy Snack Alternative In 2004
By 2004, Lubetzky had grown unhappy with unhealthy snack choices given to the American public. He created the healthy snack alternative KIND as a means of combating the rising obesity throughout the U.S. “Every time I walked into a store in an airport I felt like I had to sacrifice either my taste buds or my health,” he told Biz It. “So I tried to come up with a product that would fit with my goal of eating something that was delicious and also healthy.”
“I had a small team then, about 7 or 8 people, and we worked very hard and eventually came up with KIND as a value proposition—to do the KIND thing for your body, for your taste buds, and for the world,” Lubetzky added. “I would walk up and down the streets of New York and go store by store, and try to show our products and try to convince people that this was going to be a great product,” he recalled.
Despite taking some time to catch, KIND has become the fastest-growing snack company in the U.S. When asked about KIND’s purpose, Lubetzky told Columbia Business School: “To have a company that was going to have a social impact and that was going to be economically impactful and successful, combining the social and the business objectives. The social impact [being] inspiring kindness, celebrating kindness, finding a way to increase kindness in society, while also selling healthy snack foods.”
3. Lubetzky Is Married to Dr. Michelle Lynn Liebermann & They Have 4 Children
Lubetzky met Dr. Michelle Lynn Lieberman at a mutual friend’s karaoke party. According to the Huffington Post, Lubetzky asked her for medical advice regarding his back pain, and she prescribed ibuprofen. When it came time to propose, Lubetzky arranged to have a slew of prescriptions sent to Dr. Lieberman. On the last prescription was a note that requested she back a bag for the weekend and meet him at a fancy hotel in New York City. “I started crying,” Lieberman recalled. “That’s when I knew.” They got married in March 2008.
Dr. Lieberman is a nephrologist, which means she specializes in kidney treatment. She was magna cum laude at Penn State University, and she received her MD from Yeshiva University in New York. The couple currently reside in Manhattan, where they raise their four children. Lubetzky told CNN that he’s carried over many of the lessons his father taught them and applied them to his own parenting.
“My dad’s experiences showed me that you have to actively participate in shaping the world you want to live in,” he explained. “Because of him, I feel a real sense of accountability to do my small part to try and prevent what happened to him from happening again to others… That realization carries a heightened awareness of my own children watching my every move, and presents me with a daily opportunity to honor the past while teaching the future.”
4. Lubetzky’s Cousin Emmanuel Lubezki Is an Oscar-Winning Cinematographer
Lubetzky is not the only family member who has found success. His cousin, Emmanuel Lubezi, is considered to be one of the greatest cinematographers of all time. He’s been nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three for his work on 2013’s Gravity, 2014’s Birdman and 2015’s The Revenant. He is the only cinematographer to win the award three consecutive times.
In 2018, Lubetzy and Lubezki collaborated on the video advertisement “More Than Nice.” The ad detailed the grueling process of crossing the border from Mexico to the United States, and the danger that many face along the way. Lubetzky said that the goal of the ad was to broaden the discussion about immigration. “I think we wanted to spark a conversation about the importance of being kind, even to those people that are different from us,” he told NBC.
“I think that’s the type of reflection we want to cause in society — how do we take care of those who are coming into our borders to prevent them from dying in the desert and the wilderness,” he continued. “How do we make sure that we at all times, particularly when things are tough, are handling ourselves with kindness?”
5. Lubetzky Has an Estimated Net Worth of $1.5 Billion
KIND has made over $800 million in sales, and is worth $2.9 billion. Forbes estimates that Lubetsky’s net worth is $1.5 billion, given that he is the majority owner. According to a former executive, Lubetsky knew that he would be successful from day one. “One of the things Daniel told me when I met him was that he was going to be a billionaire,” they recalled. “And that he had a vision for the business and a vision for world peace, and he wasn’t going to rest until he made his mark.”
Lubetzky has donated to several different charities and foundations throughout his career. Between 2013 and 2015, he gave an estimated half a million dollars to nonprofits. In 2016, he founded the KIND Foundation, which is meant to encourage “kinder and more empathetic communities” around the country. Forbes lists the foundation’s assets at $11 million, $10 million of which was donated by Lubetzky himself.
Lubetzky said that he wants to use his fortune to help nurture great ideas. “I’ve been given an incredible gift with KIND’s growth and success,” he reasoned. “Now I just want to incubate great ideas, great people and have maximum impact on the world.”