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James W. Breyer Elected to Harvard Corporation

2.4.13

James W. Breyer

James W. Breyer

Photo courtesy of Harvard

Venture capitalist James W. Breyer, M.B.A. '87,  a partner at Accel Partners, has been elected a fellow of the Harvard Corporation, the University's senior governing board.

In the news announcement, President Drew Faust and senior fellow Robert D. Reischauer said:

Jim Breyer is one of his generation's most creative and admired venture capitalists. He combines wide experience in new technology and media with an expansive international outlook and an extraordinary capacity for catalyzing innovation and entrepreneurship. He has been an actively engaged alumnus, most recently as a founding member of our Global Advisory Council. Beyond his professional pursuits, he has a deep commitment to the liberal arts, an imaginative perspective on the potential of technology to enhance education, and strong interests in modern and contemporary art, music, film, and photography.

In the news release, Breyer said, "I'm honored by this opportunity to serve a university that blends tradition and innovation in such meaningful, powerful ways. The faculty, students, and staff who come together at Harvard are an extraordinary source of imagination and energy."

According to Breyer's Accel biography, he is both a partner of the firm (which he joined in 1987) and president of Accel Management Company. He led Accel's investment in Facebook in 2005 (famously founded by Mark Zuckerberg '06), and has served as a director of that company since that time. He is also a director of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and of Dell Inc. and was in 2011 elected to the board of News Corporation.  He previously worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, and in product marketing and development at Apple and  Hewlett Packard. A graduate of Stanford, Breyer is former chair of the National Venture Capital Association. He is on the dean's advisory board of Harvard Business School (HBS); chairs the Stanford Engineering Venture Fund; is a trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and is former chair of HBS's California Research Center.

The appointment brings to the Corporation both a member of a younger generation and deep ties to the innovation center around Stanford and Silicon Valley, a deepening interest for Harvard—exemplified by the creation of the Innovation Lab and the expansion of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). He also brings global reach: Accel Partners extends from its base in Silicon Valley (Palo Alto) to offices in New York, London, China (Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong), and India (Bangalore).

The technology industry, interestingly, includes not only rapidly growing start-up enterprises like Facebook, on which Accel investors realized gains in the billions of dollars, but also maturing corporations which are now being refinanced and restructured, often with Harvard people playing leading roles. Among the companies where Breyer is a director, Dell is reported to be negotiating a buyout, making it a private company, led by Silver Lake Partners with financing from Microsoft; Silver Lake's co-founder and managing director Glenn Hutchins '77, J.D.-M.B.A. '83, a co-chair of the University's forthcoming capital campaign and co-chair of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences campaign, recently gave $30 million through his family foundation, in part to fund renewal of the undergraduate Houses. Hutchins's classmates Bill Gates '77, LL.D. '07, and Steven A. Ballmer '77 are, respectively, founder and CEO of Microsoft. Gates and Ballmer underwrote SEAS's computer-sciences and electrical-engineering building, Maxwell-Dworkin (named in honor of their mothers), and Ballmer has remained very active as a University supporter and fundraiser.

Breyer succeeds Patricia King, who stepped down last December for family reasons. (King, Waterhouse professor of law, medicine, ethics, and public policy at Georgetown Law Center, began her service on the Corporation in 2006.) With his election, the Corporation again will have its full complement of 13 members, when he begins his service on July 1.

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