Seth Goldman (businessman)

Seth Goldman is an American businessman. He is the president and CEO of Honest Tea, which he co-founded in 1998 with his former business school professor, Barry Nalebuff.

Early life and early career

Goldman was born in 1965 and was raised in Wellesley, Massachusetts.[1] His father is the economist Marshall Goldman and his mother, Merle Goldman, is a professor of Chinese history at Boston University.[1][2] Goldman attended Harvard University, where he studied government affairs.[1] At Harvard, he was a student athlete, competing in cross country running and track and field.[3] After graduating from Harvard in 1987, he taught English for a year in Russia and at a Beijing university.[4] Afterwards, he worked on Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign in 1988. He then served for three years as a deputy press secretary for Dukakis' running mate, United States Senator Lloyd Bentsen of Texas.[1][4] According to the Boston Herald, he exited the political arena and enrolled in the Yale School of Management after determining that "private enterprise could promote the public good".[1]

Goldman was a volunteer for Americorps.[5] He interned for the United States Department of State.[4] Goldman married Julie Farkas in 1990, whom he met at a cooperative school in Moscow where they both taught English.[2]

After graduating from the Yale School of Management in 1995, he worked at the mutual fund company Calvert Investments, which concentrates on socially conscious investments.[6] He served as a vice president for the company.[4]

Honest Tea

Goldman co-founded Honest Tea at the end of January 1998. He first conceived of a low-calorie beverage company as an MBA student at the Yale School of Management in 1995.[5] After doing a case study about Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi for a competitive strategies class,[4] Goldman discovered "many high-calorie, sugary drinks and many no-calorie bottled waters on the market" but few beverages in the middle.[5] Though at the time, he pondered concocting a low-calorie, flavorful beverage, he did not execute the idea until three years later on a trip to New York City. He trotted around Central Park with a friend and ate together at a restaurant afterwards. They looked at the menu and found none of the drinks pleasing. Goldman emailed Barry Nalebuff, his former Yale professor, asking him if the low-calorie beverage idea still was sound. Nalebuff mentored Goldman and together they decided to create a new tea. Nalebuff provided most of the $500,000 in seed funding, while Goldman contributed a smaller amount after fundraising from his friends and family.[5] Nalebuff came up with the name "Honest Tea", which sounds like "honesty".[7] Goldman built an office in the guest bedroom of his home, which he shared with his wife and three small children.[4]

Coca-Cola paid $43 million to buy 40% of Honest Tea with the choice of purchasing the entire company in 2011. Several organic aficionados disapproved of the sale to Coca-Cola because Goldman was required to purchase several dozen contracts from independent distributors that aided in growing Honest Tea.[6]

In 2013, Goldman coauthored a graphic book with his Honest Tea co-founder Barry Nalebuff, detailing their experiences founding and running the company.[8] Jason Abbruzzese reviewed the book for the Financial Times, writing, "The narrative is at its best when balancing the personalities of the founders: Goldman's socially conscious side and Nalebuff's economic expertise."[9]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Kronenberg, Jerry (2007-10-28). "All he needed to know about biz he learned from Red Sox". Boston Herald.
  2. 1 2 "Julie Farkas Wed To Seth Goldman". The New York Times. 1990-09-03. Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  3. Knight, Rebecca (2007-11-14). "Brewing a stronger startup". Financial Times. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Mirabella, Lorraine. (1999-05-05). "Md. tea in a bottle ready to go places" (pages 1 and 2). The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original (pages 1 and 2) on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Hyman, Julie (1998-09-14). "Honest Tea Company Fills Niche with Natural Low-Cal Alternative". The Washington Times. Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  6. 1 2 Howard, Theresa (2009-03-29). "Honest Tea stays true to its roots as it grows". USA Today. Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  7. Birchall, Jonathan (2009-06-10). "Tea and synergy". Financial Times. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  8. Olson, Elizabeth (2013-03-12). "Honest Tea Creates a Business Guide as a Comic Book". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  9. Abbruzzese, Jason (2013-08-21). "'Mission in a Bottle' by Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff". Financial Times. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
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