Stop! Hammer's Back
Forbes Magazine estimated Hammer's net worth at more than $33 million in 1991. But, just five years later, Hammer—born Stanley Burrell—was reportedly in debt to the tune of $13 million.
Hammer filed for bankruptcy in 1996, but today, he says his debt wasn't a matter of losing his head. "No, I lost my heart," he says. "I didn't just take the money and say, 'I want to be a blessing to myself.' I took my money and employed 200 people in my community. I had a payroll of a million dollars a month at times."
Hammer says he's in a good place now. "Some people ask me sometimes, would I go back and change things?" he says. "They are flabbergasted by my answer. My real, true answer is I wouldn't change one thing. I really believe in the butterfly effect. Meaning that if I change one thing, everything else changes. I lose the kids I have now. I lose the relationships I have now. I lose the peace I have now. So I'm very happy with my decision."
- Preaches and officiates friends' weddings
- Manages 22 mixed martial artists
- Helps develop iPad apps
- Invests in Internet start-up companies
- Lectures about new media at places like Harvard, Wharton, Stanford and Oxford
Today, Hammer says he spends most days in California's Silicon Valley. "On a day-to-day basis, I'm loosely involved with about eight [technology] companies that I'm excited about," Hammer says. "Everything from advising to consulting to investing in, it keeps me busy 10 to 12 hours a day."
Watch Hammer discuss a new app that turns social media into a digital magazine.
Between meetings, Hammer uses Twitter to communicate with more than 2 million followers.
The day before he flew to Chicago for The Oprah Show taping, Hammer says he had a meeting with Apple to pitch a new iPad case, the ZAGGmate by ZAGG. "It wasn't an invention of mine, but somebody came up with a case that if you drop it, the screen doesn't break and then if you stand it up, it becomes a keyboard—a Blue Tooth wireless keyboard. So when they showed it to me I said, 'Well, Apple has to see this.'"
"I'm really kind of stunned. Who knew you were a geek?" Oprah jokes.
The couple has five children together, and Stephanie says he's a hands-on dad. "There's nothing that comes across in the family that he's not involved in," she says.