Leland C. "Lee" Pillsbury
Venture capitalist with a special focus on the hospitality industry.
Leland Pillsbury, '69, is the founder, co-chairman, and CEO of Thayer Lodging Group, a privately held hotel real estate investment firm which ranks among the top five percent of top performers among all private real estate firms. He is also the co-founder and chairman of TIG Global, an internet marketing company serving over 1,500 hotels around the world; co-founder and chairman of EMC Venues, the largest resort and conference center marketing representation firm in the country; co-founder and chairman of Thayer Insurance Group, providing specialized insurance coverage to hotel and hospitality firms; co-founder of HUBS1, providing the only global distribution system and central reservations systems to the domestic Chinese hotel and airline industries; and co-founder of HQuant, a financial and analytical firm serving the hospitality industry and publisher of the HQuant Lodging Real Estate Index. He is a principal and director in several other companies both inside and outside the hospitality industry.
He launched Grande Heritage Hotels in 1989 and sold the company in 1991. After serving 20 years at Marriott International, where he was Marriott's youngest executive vice president and corporate officer, Mr. Pillsbury served as the head of strategic planning for the lodging business, participated in the acquisition of a time sharing business, led the venture team that developed and launched Fairfield Inns, acquired the Residence Inns Company, and introduced several brand extensions. During this period, Marriott experienced a four-fold increase in sales, a five-fold increase in profits, and an eight-fold increase in its market capitalization. At the time of his departure, Mr. Pillsbury was responsible for $1 billion in annual capital development projects and more than 18,000 employees. After his departure, he participated in the acquisition of the Ritz Carlton Hotel Company by Marriott International. In 1991 he founded Thayer Lodging Group.
Mr. Pillsbury is a member of Cornell's University Council, where he and his wife have been named Principal Benefactors. He serves on the Real Estate Sub-committee of Cornell's Investment Committee and on the Cornell Rowing Foundation, is a founding investor in the Johnson School's Cayuga MBA Fund, and is chairman of the Major Gifts Committee for his class. Mr. Pillsbury is a member of the Dean's Advisory Council at the J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, where he is also a member of the Pete Henderson Society and recipient of the 2009 Schaffner Award. He has been a guest lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell and Singapore (Nanyang Technical University), Florida International, Johnson and Wales College, the University of Beijing, and the University of Shanghai.