Chairman and ceo of Perseus, Frank H. Pearl, died early Friday at age 68. He had been recently diagnosed with an aggressive form of lung cancer. Pearl founded the Perseus Books Group in 1997 after investing in Counterpoint Press and Public Affairs and served as its chairman of the board. A longtime colleague of Pearl’s who has served on the publishing company’s board John Schwieters will fill his position as chairman of the board of Perseus Books.
Perseus Books ceo David Steinberger wrote to employees today, saying: “Frank founded The Perseus Books Group with a vision for a different kind of publishing company, an independent company that could have a real impact on the world. He possessed the confidence and tenacity to see that vision realized. For those of us who had a chance to work closely with him, he was a great help, available day and night to talk through a challenge or strategize about an opportunity. He was also immensely proud of the company and its many accomplishments. He cared deeply about the company — its books, its authors and its people. And he had a profound appreciation for the written word and its potential to change lives.”
Public Affairs co-founder Peter Osnos writes: “In the 15 years we worked together Frank Pearl achieved his goal of creating an enterprise that is a bastion of independent publishing. His contributions were profound and his legacy will be the cascade of important books that he made it possible for those of us in the Perseus Books Group and Public Affairs to support. The company is well positioned to carry forward his mission.”
Pearl sat on many boards, including the trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Rockefeller University, and board of directors of the National Book Foundation. The Washington Post says he “was regarded as the most powerful unknown man in Washington.”
His investment fund Perseus LLC says that he had “prepared a management transition plan…the details of which are being communicated to the Perseus fund investors.” Senior managing director Kenneth M. Socha will serve as the firm’s senior executive and will lead the organization.