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Billionaire Tull’s Tulco Holdings innovates like few other investment/holding groups

In late July, Michigan based Acrisure –  said to be one the fastest growing insurance brokers in the world – announced a $400 million acquisition of an artificial intelligence business. But that’s not the whole story.

The business they acquired formed part of Tulco Holdings, a Pittsburgh based principal investment/holding group founded in 2017 by billionaire and serial entrepreneur, Thomas Tull. Transacted as a “stock-for-stock” trade, the deal resulted in Tulco becoming a big minority shareholder in Acrisure, who plans to use Tulco’s tech to enhance their product development. 

During the early 2000s, Tull earned himself a reputation as something of a Hollywood film mogul

Through Tulco, Tull’s mission is to disrupt multiple industries by leveraging technology from his in-house AI lab to boost businesses that are ripe for innovation. In a 2018 interview with Bloomberg, the multi-investor said he was “winding down” other aspects of his family office to focus on the new company full time.

Businesses on the receiving end of Tulco’s long-term investment are those that seek to become innovators in their sectors and include RoadRunner, a data-led waste management firm and FIGS, a “next-gen” purveyor of medical apparel. In 2019, it was reported that FIGS had brought in revenues of $100 million.

But Tull is no new kid on the tech and investment block. In fact, his vision for tech-driven business innovation began at 23 when he started a chain of laundromat businesses. Using a computer system to alter prices, Tull encouraged customers to visit the stores during less busy hours in order to maximise revenues. During the early part of his career, he also worked at Pittsburgh software company, Terrametrix and later on, climbed the corporate leadership ladder to become the president of private equity firm, Convex Group.

While Tull has invested in many different kinds of businesses over the course of his career, he also has a minority stake in US football team, The Pittsburgh Steelers. His passion for applying innovative processes to pre-disruption businesses is the common thread that runs through his endeavours. The most interesting of which is his foray into the film industry.

During the early 2000s, Tull earned himself a reputation as something of a Hollywood film mogul. He actually helped finance some of the era’s best-known films via Legendary, a financing vehicle he started in 2005 after raising between $500-600 million from investors.

With this money, he went on to co-produce a series of blockbuster films including Warner. Bros.’ The Dark Knight, the Hangover franchise and Inception – to name but a few. Even then, Tull made use of tech advancements to market the films in new and innovative ways.

Central to this was the creation of Eddington, a revolutionary software programme that divided main audience demographics such as “male, female, over and under 25 years old,” into even more subdivisions. Described as “able to zero in on the behaviours of different moviegoing audiences”, the software was used to market 2014’s Godzilla, which made $529 million globally. Tull’s films have grossed some $13 billion dollars worldwide.

In 2016, Legendary was sold to Dalian Wanda Group, a Chinese multinational conglomerate for a reported $3.5 billion. Tull stayed on as CEO but exited in 2017 amid rumours that Wanda was displeased with his management on later projects.

Whether Tull was pushed out or left on his own accord doesn’t matter, the facts remain that throughout his career, he’s managed to disrupt industries through the application of new technology –  and walk away with big money in the process.

Today, Tull has a Forbes estimated net worth of $1.2 billion and ventures into philanthropy as well as commercial investments. He runs The Tull Family Foundation with his wife Alba, an organisation that supports education, research into life sciences and conservation.

While predicting Tull’s future investments isn’t as easy as recalling his past successes, Tulco’s ambitious business model means it’s anyone’s guess what firms will catch his attention next. 

What we can be sure of, however, is that like SpaceX founder, Elon Musk’s foray into cars, space travel and clean energy, Tull has an unwavering determination to apply tech to existing sectors. 

In fact, it’s the very mystery of Tull’s next investment that makes Tulco a family investment group worth watching.

Family Capital reached out to Tulco for comments but has not yet received a response.

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