How Paychex Made Tom Golisano a Billionaire

Tom Golisano got his start with $3,000 and a credit card. Now, his company Paychex is worth billions of dollars. How did he become a billionaire and generous philanthropist?

Kori Williams - Author

Dec. 23 2020, Published 11:46 a.m. ET

Source: The Golisano Foundation

Tom Golisano is now a billionaire, but he hasn't always been wealthy. He started his company Paychex, a payroll and HR company for small businesses, with $3,000 and a credit card. He set out to create a business that would treat its employees fairly.

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Now, with the Golisano Foundation, he's able to give back. The foundation focuses on donating to causes for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The foundation's website says that it has given more than $40 million in grants. It gives $2 million annually to non-profits in New York and Florida.

paychex company tom golisano
Source: Paychex Facebook
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Tom Golisano founded Paychex

According to, Golisano founded Paychex in 1971 and had the idea as a teenager. He saw how horribly his father was treated at his job and wanted to create a work environment that employees would enjoy. Golisano's father was verbally abused by his boss. 

"It was a total bawling out, embarrassing my father in my presence about the job he was doing or not doing," Golisano said to Investor's Business Daily. "I don't remember any of the details about whether the guy was right or wrong. All I remember is how he treated my father." 

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Who owns Paychex?

Golisano still owns Paychex although he doesn't have the titles he used to. According to his biography on the Golisano Foundation's website, he was the CEO and president of the company until October 2004. However, Golisano is still a member of the company's board. 

Paychex has been a publicly-traded company since 1983, according to a press release on Business Wire. Also, 23 percent of the company is owned by the public. 

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Tom Golisano previously owned the Buffalo Sabres

According to an article in The Buffalo News, Golisano saved the Buffalo Sabres from bankruptcy when he bought the team back in 2003. The team lost $14 million the previous year alone and Golisano bought the team for a cash payment of $15 million. The article says that the deal was worth $92 million. 

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Under Golisano's ownership, the Sabres made "sizable gains." Forbes says that in 2011, Golisano sold the team to fellow billionaire Terry Pegula for $189 million.

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Tom Golisano's book helps readers become entrepreneurs

Golisano's book Built, Not Born: A Self-Made Billionaire's No-Nonsense Guide for Entrepreneurs structures itself around helping the reader build their own businesses. The book discusses how to think for yourself and not follow typical methods of developing a business. 

Tom Monaghan, the founder of Domino's Pizza, is quoted on Amazon. He said, "Tom Golisano understands what it takes grow and thrive as a business owner at all levels, and Built, Not Born is full of practical insights for those who have made or are considering making the leap to starting a new business." 

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monica seles and tom golisano
Source: Monica Seles Facebook

Is Tom Golisano married to Monica Seles?

Golisano is married to Monica Seles. An article in The New York Daily News says that they started dating in 2009. According to Democrat & Chronicle, Golisano announced his engagement to seles, a tennis Grand-Slam champion, in 2014 while visiting a high school in Rochester, N.Y. 

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While different publications say that the couple is married, there aren't pictures of a ceremony or a confirmed date. 

How much is Tom Golisano worth?

According to Forbes, Golisano is currently worth $4.3 billion. 


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