Equity Residential has announced the death of its founder and chairman, Samuel Zell, who died today at age 81.
Zell was an iconic figure in real estate and throughout the corporate world. An active investor in real estate since the 1960s, he helped revolutionize the industry through the popularization of the REIT structure in the 1990s, democratizing the ownership of publicly traded real estate companies. Zell founded the predecessor company to Equity Residential while a student at the University of Michigan and took it public on the NYSE in August 1993. Under his leadership, Equity Residential grew into a highly regarded $31 billion apartment owner, developer and operator and S&P 500 member. Over the years, he invested in and grew businesses in multiple industries including real estate, manufacturing, retail, travel, healthcare and energy.
He was an active philanthropist with a focus on entrepreneurial education, establishing several leading entrepreneurship progr