Jonathan is president of the Kraft Group.Courtesy of the New England Patriots
Given that this is New England, perhaps the best way to describe Robert and Jonathan Kraft’s efficient, easy way of working together is to compare them to an experienced head coach and quarterback who have been through everything together.
When the elder Kraft hits a tangent in an interview, the younger one gently jumps in: “He was asking you a different question.” Jonathan, at 58 the oldest of Robert’s four sons, will sit quietly for long stretches as his father talks but is willing to interrupt if he senses more context would help. Both share the duties of operating the Kraft Group empire and both are adept at building and maintaining the relationships at the heart of the business.
It’s more than just effective teamwork. It’s security for the Kraft legacy, the Patriots’ stability and the team’s leadership role in the NFL. In a league that has seen messy succession battles after once-prominent owners passed away, it’s clear that won’t be the case in New England. That confidence in the future is one of the Krafts’ greatest accomplishments.
“Robert, I’m not speaking for him, but he’s got to be very proud that he has set his team up with such a great second generation of leadership,” said Fox Sports CEO Eric Shanks. “Jonathan is as good as a representative as Robert for that club.”
The close business relationship between Robert and Jonathan, just 22 years younger, started early. In high school, Jonathan was invited to skip class to join his father for breakfast with Harvard Business School fellows, listened in on meetings at their home while he was in college, and was a close confidant from the earliest days with the Patriots.
Jonathan Kraft serves as president of the Kraft Group under his father’s titles of founder, chairman and CEO. He is investor-operator of the Revolution and oversees the day-to-day operations of all Kraft Group businesses. “Like his dad, I respect him so much as a business person, but he’s also someone who cares greatly about family,” said Clark Hunt, owner of the Chiefs and FC Dallas. Shanks emphasized Jonathan Kraft’s commitment to community service.
“Like his dad, he’s a real icon in the community,” Shanks said. “The philanthropy Jonathan exudes, he’s the chairman of the board of Massachusetts General [Hospital] … the things they do in the community, he truly is a chip off the old block.”
For Robert Kraft, working with his children is a reward in itself. Daniel Kraft is president of Kraft Group International, and Josh Kraft is president of Kraft Family Philanthropies. David is not actively involved in the business.
“It’s the greatest thing,” he said. “Right now, I see three of my sons every day. Jonathan has put in the most energy and effort and has been a full partner, but Danny and Josh have each come in, Danny in the international area has been awesome and Josh in the philanthropic area. So, I’m pretty lucky.”