Born: Dec. 27, 1954, in Chicago. Youngest of two children of Rosalind, a teacher, and Larry, president of a chain of discount department stores.
Education: BS/BA in marketing and finance, Ohio State University, 1977; MBA, Northwestern University, 1978.
Career: Started in marketing, working on such products as Extra-Strength Tylenol for Johnson & Johnson. A desire to work on turnarounds brought him to Odyssey Partners, a leveraged buyout firm, in 1989. Joined NetZero (now United Online -- UNTD ) as CEO in 1999.
College nickname: Mark McDonald's. Classmates gave him the name after he sent a registered letter to the home of McDonald's then-Chairman Ray Krok. The letter pitched an idea: a cup for french fries that could be reused as a pencil holder. Krok offered him a job, but Goldston opted for grad school.
Why he wanted to be a turnaround artist: The bigger the challenge, the greater the reward. "It's more exciting to be an emergency room surgeon than a general practitioner."
Family: Married to NancyJane; father of identical twin boys, Adam and Ryan, 15.