Dick Parsons is the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner. An oft-rumored political candidate, he currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates and acts as an economic adivser for Obama.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, Parsons headed off to the University of Hawaii at the age of 16 and played on the school's basketball team, before returning East to attend law school. His legal career started off in the public sector: He worked as a legal aide to Nelson Rockefeller when he served as governor, later moving with Rockefeller to Washington when he was elected vice president under Gerald Ford. Parsons returned to the city after his stint in politics and joined the firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. Parsons remained at the firm until 1988, when he left to join one of his clients, Dime Savings Bank, as chief operating officer.
He was elevated to CEO of Dime right around the time he joined the board of Time Warner. In 1995, he traded banking for media when Time Warner's chief executive at the time, Jerry Levin, convinced him to join the company as president. The two worked together to carry out one of the most disastrous mergers in recent history, the marriage of AOL and Time Warner at the height of the dotcom bubble. Parsons somehow managed to avoid the resulting fallout and was named Levin's successor in 2001, then took over as CEO in May 2002. He stepped down and turned the top job over to his successor, Jeff Bewkes, in January 2008.