Tom Breitling has made a living out of dreaming big and working hard to live out his dreams. Originally slated to become the next Bob Costas, Tom’s entrepreneurial career begins with a passion to transform the world and a big idea that would become one of the largest and most influential travel agencies online. Now as founder and CEO of Breitling Ventures in Las Vegas, NV, Tom leverages his entrepreneurial vision to invest in the innovation of tomorrow by seeking the next great ideas of today.
Transforming a small startup into a multi-million-dollar enterprise was just the beginning. After striking a $100 million deal to sell their company, Travelscape, to Expedia back in 2000, business partners Tom Breitling and Tim Poster went on to become the youngest casino owners in Nevada by purchasing the storied Golden Nugget casino in Las Vegas. Since then, Tom has been investing in people and inspiring the ingenuity of the next generation of entrepreneurs now and well into the future.
Failure is common and acceptable. Don’t be afraid to fail.
From the University of San Diego to Las Vegas, from online travel to casino ownership and online gaming, see below for the timeline of events.
Tom Breitling meets Tim Poster, surely the only college student carrying his own mobile phone at that time, and instinctively knows Tim is a guy he can trust – a bond forged over an expensive sandwich and Tim’s genuine and immediate offer to cover the check.
A half-year after Steve Wynn erected the erupting volcano at the Mirage, Tim Poster sets up an 800 number and founds Las Vegas Reservation Systems (LVRS), a hotel room rental business built around the merchant model he devised during an entrepreneurial class at USC. “Looking back”, says Tim, “starting the room reservation business at that time was like being the guy who paid $24 to the Indians for Manhattan.” LVRS first-year revenues: $800,000.
Tom Breitling, determined to be the next Bob Costas, gets his first television job at KHIZ-TV in Victorville, CA, home of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Because the sports spot is already taken, he starts as the weatherman and broadcasts high school sports from the sports anchor seat. LVRS second-year revenues: $1.6 million.
Tim and Tom’s wildly successful partnership begins with a handshake on a frozen lake in Minnesota. LVRS revenues: $2.8 million.
Tom joins LVRS (Travelscape). Tom, with a hundred dollars in his wallet, leaves his dreams of being an ESPN sportscaster (and the next Bob Costas) and drives his Honda Accord to Las Vegas to join Tim at LVRS. By now, 12,000 additional hotel rooms have come into the Las Vegas market with the opening of the Luxor, the Treasure Island, and the MGM Grand. LVRS revenues: $3.6 million.
With larger blocks of rooms to offer, Tom and Tim begin creating air & hotel packages for Vegas vacationers. LVRS revenues: $4.8 million.
Internet web browsers Explorer and Netscape Mosaic become popular as consumers begin to learn how to “surf the web.” LVRS revenues: $6.2 million.
While traditional companies print brochures, Tom conceives one of the earliest websites featuring images of the exotically themed hotel rooms LVRS is offering – the pirate motif at Treasure Island, pyramid designs at the Luxor, and the medieval décor at the Excalibur. The site allows LVRS to respond to the market in an instant, based on demand, and update information immediately. At ages 27 and 28, Tom and Tim are millionaires. LVRS revenues: $8.5 million.
Tom and Tim invest six month’s profit to begin developing Tom’s brainstorm – one of the first automatic online reservation systems – a fast, easy to use, five-click system that allows people to search, compare, and reserve hotel space via the Internet. LVRS sales: $12 million.
“Every quarter we put in comes back dressed up as a dollar!” says Tim Poster. With the February 26 launch of their new online reservation system, LVRS grows exponentially. The partners form a new company, Travelscape, taking their ‘merchant model’ global. Sales climb 60% to $20 million.
Travelscape takes off, offering rooms in 100 cities and 2,500 hotels. Barry Diller wants to buy Travelscape. He bets that the young entrepreneurs – to save the deal – will take $38 million less than the agreed upon purchase price and switches his offer at the eleventh hour. Firmly believing that a man’s word is his bond, Tim and Tom call Diller’s bluff and refuse. Travelscape continues to surge, selling reservations for 2 million room nights a year. Annual revenues: $100 million.
The early days of Las Vegas gave us the impression anything was possible. Tom Breitling and Tim Poster make their first megabuck when they sell Travelscape to Microsoft’s Expedia for $105 million on Expedia stock. Breitling focuses on private equity investments through Breitling Ventures.
Tom takes a seat on Expedia’s board of directors just as Barry Diller buys a 60% share of the company. When the dot-com bubble bursts, Expedia’s stock falls from $34 to $7. Tim serves on the board of Station Casinos.
Expedia’s stock soars to $150 a share by summertime. Partners Tom and Tim negotiate with MGM Mirage Resorts and buy the legendary Golden Nugget for $215 million. Mark Burnett, legendary producer of “Survivor” and “The Apprentice,” turns his cameras on Tim and Tom for a new reality show, “The Casino.”
At the stroke of midnight on January 23, 2004, Tom and Tim take ownership of the Golden Nugget, the longest continually operating casino in Las Vegas, making them the youngest casino owners ever in the state of Nevada. They return “Vintage Vegas” glamour and style to downtown Las Vegas. Tony Bennett headlines at the Nugget’s intimate, 425 seat showroom.
Don't ever forget the single most thrilling thing in the world is to gamble and win. And the second most thrilling thing is to gamble and lose. But it's way more fun to win. Tim and Tom sell The Golden Nugget for $113 million in profit, making their second $100 million before they turn 40.
Tom publishes Double Or Nothing, a story of their entrepreneurial journey. Tim and Tom join Steve Wynn at Wynn Resorts to assist in opening the new Encore resort in Las Vegas and lead strategy and development for the company.
Tom marries Vanessa Tarazona. They begin having children: Aliana, Valentina, and Catalina
The duo form Ultimate Gaming with Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta in an effort to pursue regulated online gaming in the U.S. Due to a lack of legislation, the company withdraws from the market in 2014.
Ultimate Gaming becomes the first licensed legal real-money online gaming company in the United States by dealing the first hand of legal online poker.
Tom has transitioned back to private equity investing and is married with three children (all girls).
2018 is an important year in Tom's journey as he formed Trifecta Hospitality with longtime business partner Tim Poster and joined the Board of Trustees at the University of San Diego (USD). The entire journey started at USD where Tom met Tim and has come full circle as Tom rejoins the Torero community. Tom is proud to work alongside President Jim Harris and chair the Athletics committee with Athletic Director Bill McGillis.
Para todo mal, mezcal: para todo bien, tambien. (For everything bad, mezcal: and also for everything good.)
The Producer Mezcal was formed by a group of friends and entrepreneurs going back decades. These include Tom Breitling, George Kaelin, and Gaston Pavlovich (classmates at USD in the 1980’s); Jordan Lewites (Sports Agent/Marketing), Guillermo Romo (from the family that owned and operated Herradura Tequilla), and Eduardo Sanchez Navarro (successful owner of some of Cabo’s highest end properties with golf and resorts).
Mezcal is the fastest growing spirit in the U.S. With a 50% growth rate expected from 2023-2025 and an estimated $1.2 billion market, The Producer is well positioned to become one of the leading global mezcal brands. Our goal is to provide the best mezcal on the planet and to encourage celebration through mezcal. Our strong connections in Oaxaca have ensured we are aligned with the best possible producers. Our process is to use the oldest agave, the best water, and a process of filtration and distillation that produces the most smooth and best-tasting mezcal in the market. We are also big believers in partnership and have plans to continue to invest in the people and the community of Oaxaca. ¡Viva Mezcal!