Billy Beane & Paul DePodesta
Oakland A's General Manager and Subject of Moneyball
Considered one of the most progressive and talented baseball executives in the game today, Billy Beane has molded the Oakland Athletics into a perennial postseason contender since assuming the general manager's duties shortly following the 1997 season.
Under Beane's watch, the A's have compiled an 1132-972 (.538) record over the last 13 seasons, which is the fourth-best record in the American League and sixth best in all of baseball during that time frame. The A's have won four American League West titles (2000; 2002-03; 2006) and secured one AL Wild Card spot (2001) during that span. His teams have posted 90 or more wins in six of the last 11 years.
Under Beane, the A's have adopted an organizational philosophy that stresses plate discipline and pitchers who command the strike zone.
Beginning in 1999, Beane and former Assistant GM Paul DePodesta shattered antiquated MLB beliefs that big payrolls equated wins by implementing unorthodox (by MLB standards) strategic methodology that inevitably led one of the worst teams in the AL with one of the lowest payrolls, to three American League West Division titles.
Best-selling author Michael Lewis chronicled their journey in his 2003 bestselling book Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, now a major motion picture starring Brad Pitt.
Beane's strategy has since opened the eyes of many top sports executives and CEOs around the country who now utilize the
"Moneyball" methodology. In 2008 Beane even collaborated with Newt Gingrich and Sen. John Kerry in co-authoring an article in the New York Times offering possible remedies for the U.S. health care crisis.
Beane was named The Sporting News' Executive of the Year in 1999 and earned Major League Baseball's Executive of the Year honors by Baseball America magazine following the 2002 season. In November of 2001, Beane was named one of Street & Smith's Sport Business Journal's "40 Under 40 and in 2004, he was rated 16th on their list of Baseball's Heavy Hitters.
A first round draft pick (23rd overall) of the New York Mets in the 1980 June Free Agent Draft, Beane played six major league seasons as an infielder, outfielder and catcher for the Mets, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and Oakland A's. His final season in uniform was 1989 when he was a utility player on the A's World Championship team. Beane retired as an active player in the spring of 1990 when he joined the A's front office as the club's major league advance scout. Former A's President Sandy Alderson promoted Beane to General Manager in 1997.
At the podium, Beane conveys his innovative, winning style of management and leadership, which involves identifying undervalued assets to create and sustain a competitive advantage. By striking parallels between baseball and business, Beane inspires audiences across industries (including health care, insurance, finance, etc.) with his unforgettable winning underdog story.
A native of San Diego, Calif., Beane attended Mt. Carmel High School and UC San Diego, where he studied economics. Billy and his wife, Tara, reside in Danville, California with their twins, Brayden and Tinsley. His daughter, Casey, attends Kenyon (Ohio) College.
The New York Mets VP of Player Development and Scouting, Entrepreneur & Subject of Moneyball
Paul DePodesta has made a career of evaluating, measuring and assigning value to talent, and is currently Vice President of Player Development and Scouting for the New York Mets.
Formerly the Executive Vice President of the San Diego Padres, and General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers during the 2004-05 seasons, DePodesta was the third-youngest person ever to assume the role of Major League GM. Assigned the task of turning around a team that had not won a postseason game since 1988, DePodesta guided Los Angeles to a playoff berth in his first season at the helm.
Prior to joining the Dodgers, DePodesta served as Assistant General Manager of the Oakland Athletics from 1999 to 2003—a tenure during which the A's tied for the best winning percentage in baseball (392-255). At the time of his hire, Oakland was one of the worst teams in the league, coming off of six losing seasons while posting one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. Entrenched in ingrained thinking and outdated systems, the stagnant team needed the unique management and creative approach that A's GM Billy Beane and DePodesta brought to the table.
The conventional wisdom in Major League Baseball is that wealthy teams—who spend three times as much on talent as poor teams—will win out. But in DePodesta's four seasons in Oakland, the A's won more regular season games than the New York Yankees, who during the same period spent $350 million more on player payroll than did the Athletics. In rethinking how the system works by asking what DePodesta calls the naive question—"If we weren't already doing it this way, is this the way we would start?"—he and Beane revolutionized the way baseball teams are built.
Michael Lewis documented the A's remarkable success—despite a shoestring budget—under the Beane/DePodesta team in his New York Times best-seller Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. The book is a hit not just with baseball fans but also with business leaders looking for new approaches to stagnant systems. Overhauling—rather than merely tweaking—the thought processes behind an outdated organization is essential for innovation and success, something DePodesta knows better than most. At the podium, he discusses the innovative strategies he used to create a winning team, as well as the application of these strategies in the corporate world.
At A Glance: After graduating Cum Laude from Harvard College with a degree in economics, DePodesta worked in the Canadian Football League and the American Hockey League. He then joined the Cleveland Indians Baseball Club as an intern in Player Development. Within a year, the Indians made him the advance scout for the Major League team, and two years later he was appointed Special Assistant to the General Manager.
In 1999, DePodesta's first season as Oakland's Assistant G.M., the Athletics enjoyed their first winning season in seven years and began a run of four consecutive playoff appearances, including three American League West Division Titles. Amidst the remarkable run, the Toronto Blue Jays offered to make DePodesta the youngest General Manager in the history of Major League Baseball (an offer he declined). His work has been recognized by various publications, including Fortune, who named him one of the Top 10 innovators under 40. He is married and lives in southern California.