Michael Willner, President and CEO
Michael joined Penthera in 2012. A cable television industry entrepreneur and leader, Michael co-founded Insight Communications, the ninth largest U.S. cable company, in 1985 with Sidney Knafel and served as its CEO until the company was sold to Time Warner Cable in February 2012 for $3 billion.
As chairman of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), the industry’s main lobbying group, Michael spearheaded an effort to standardize the way cable companies reported their operating metrics to the investment community, earning him the respect of Wall Street analysts. He also has been one of the cable industry’s most active and effective ambassadors on Capitol Hill, testifying regularly before Congress on industry issues and pending legislation. He chaired NCTA’s political action committee (CablePAC) from 2000 until 2012, served as chairman of the board of the Cable Center from 2007 through 2011, was on the executive committee of CableLabs, and the boards of C-SPAN and the Walter Kaitz Foundation.
Michael was a recipient of the NCTA’s 2004 Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership and a 2005 inductee into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Cable Hall of Fame in 2008. He graduated from Boston University’s College of Communications in 1974.
Adam Berger, Chief Technology Officer
Adam co-founded Penthera in 2005. In 2000, while still a graduate student, Adam co-founded Eizel Technologies Inc., a venture-backed software firm that developed a corporate mobile email system. Nokia purchased Eizel in 2003 and integrated it into their newly-formed Enterprise Systems division. Within Nokia, Adam’s team grew the Eizel product line into the Nokia One Business Server™ product. In addition, Adam led an innovation team that interfaced between U.S. and European offices to bring product and intellectual property concepts from the research and venturing wing into the product units. Adam left Nokia in 2005 and subsequently co-founded Penthera with Sam Leinhardt, to address the emergent need for HD video on mobile devices.
During his years in the software industry, Adam has served as a public speaker at major venues and technology advisor and board member to start-up companies and technology investment firms. He holds multiple degrees from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. Adam has published over 20 refereed papers and holds 10 U.S. patents.
Melani Griffith, Executive Vice President Business Development
Melani joined Penthera in 2013. An 18 year veteran of the cable industry, Melani has the unique experience of working across the spectrum of affiliate sales, content acquisition and advertising sales.
Melani spent seven years with Insight Communications, the nation’s ninth largest cable television company as SVP of Programming and Video Product Management. At Insight Melani was responsible for negotiating all of the content deals for linear, VOD and broadband as well as creating and executing on the video product strategy.
Prior to Insight, Melani ran the eastern division for affiliate sales at AMC Networks and was an account executive in advertising sales for Fox Cable Networks. Melani was selected as 1 of 12 “Wonder Women” by Multichannel News; 1 of 10 “Leaders Under 35″ by Electronic Media and 1 of the “Top 50 to Watch” by Cable World.
Melani received her BA from UCLA and MBA from Columbia Business School.
John Coughlan, Chief Financial Officer
John joined Penthera in 2012. John comes to Penthera after tenures in the cable television and finance industries.
John spent six years with Insight Communications, the nation’s ninth largest cable television company as VP, Finance and Treasurer. At Insight John was responsible for all treasury functions including capital raising in the loan, fixed-income and private equity markets; strategic activity including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures; and financial planning and analysis.
Prior to joining Insight, John was with Morgan Stanley, the investment bank. John worked in investment banking and capital markets providing strategic, corporate finance and capital raising services to clients in the media and telecom and industrial sectors.
John received his BA from Wesleyan University and MBA from the University of Chicago.
Sidney Knafel, Chairman of the Board
Sidney Knafel has over 40 years of leadership experience in the telecommunications industry. He co-founded Insight Communications, the ninth largest U.S. cable company, in 1985 with Michael Willner and served as a director and chairman of the board until the company was sold to Time Warner Cable in February 2012 for $3 billion. Sid also was the founder, Chairman and an equity holder of Vision Cable Communications, Inc. from 1971 until its sale in 1981.
Sid is currently a member of the board of directors of General American Investors Company, Inc. and IGENE Biotechnology, Inc., and several private companies. He is also the managing partner of SRK Management Company, a private investment company.
Sid is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School.
Samuel Leinhardt, Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor
Sam Leinhardt is a successful technology sector entrepreneur, scientist, and educator. Sam’s first company, Leinhardt-McCormick Associates, provided computer graphics tools for statistics, exploratory data analysis and data mining. FORMTEK, Inc., his second company, was a spin-off of Carnegie Mellon University. Co-founded by Sam in 1982, FORMTEK commercialized computer-assisted design (CAD) and distributed engineering data management applications. FORMTEK was purchased by Lockheed Martin in 1988. STORM, LLC, the third company Sam co-founded, developed and marketed Internet infrastructure software. STORM was sold to Redleaf Group, Inc. in June 2000. Prior to co-founding Penthera in 2005, Sam was President and CEO of Eizel Technologies, a developer of mobile email solutions for the enterprise.
Sam received his BA, MA and PhD degrees from the University of Chicago. He is the author and editor of numerous academic books, articles and journals in sociology, economics, and statistics. He is currently an adjunct professor of Human Computer Interaction and a former member of the Advisory Board of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.
Laura Perella, Chief Administrative Officer
Laura joined Penthera in 2005. Laura has over thirty years’ experience in operations with companies that develop and market hardware, software, consulting and systems integration services. She has held various roles in operations, finance, administration and marketing, including Business Operations Manager for Nokia’s mobile email group.
As Director of Operations for Eizel Technologies, Laura participated in the building and successful sale of the company to Nokia in 2003. Prior to Eizel, Laura was Director of Operations and Administration for Redleaf Group, Inc., an internet operating company; Director of Finance and Administration at STORM, LLC, a company that developed and marketed Internet infrastructure software; and a member of the management team at FORMTEK, Inc., contributing in the areas of finance, administration, operations, legal and marketing. Early in her career, she also held positions with Four Phase Systems (acquired by Motorola) and Telecommunications, Inc. (acquired by AT&T).
Ms. Perella received her degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.