Mr. James C. Anderson
Founder, Legacy Venture
Founder, Foundation Capital
Founder, Merrill Pickard Anderson and Eyre
BSEE and MSEE 1972
In a scenario where the arts and engineering come together, Anderson says of his motivation to attend Purdue, "Marching in a high school band behind the Purdue band at the Rose Bowl is what got my interest rolling for attending Purdue. When I learned that you could play in the Purdue band as well as learn from one of the leading engineering schools in the nation, I was hooked."
Anderson recalls, "Fred Mowle was one of the most influential professorial contacts I made at Purdue when he pushed me into building a software model for teaching and classroom use of microprocessors on a PDP-9 long before the days that microprocessors were well known. That, combined with early classes in silicon wafer processing and actually building a chip in the lab, had a major impact in my career as I moved from engineering to management, to the venture capital arena as it was growing itself on the West Coast."
At the peak of his venture career, Anderson was shaken by a medical crisis that put him in touch with the realization that there was more to life than his success as a venture capitalist. "As a result, I spend most of my time and energies with my newest creation, Legacy Venture, a new venture vehicle designed to encourage high-impact philanthropy through a unique venture investment structure and style combined with collaboration and entrepreneurship. Early activities have largely focused on bonding participants with medical research, schools, and the environment." As Legacy Venture’s founder and idea generator, Anderson has focused on getting the power of Silicon Valley refocused on the philanthropic arena. He has often stated that, "The skill set for philanthropy and venture capital are very synergistic with the simple addition of some care, refined listening and a realization that philanthropic problems are often much more difficult than those in the venture arena."
As a past president and director of the Western Association for Venture Capitalists, as well as a director of the National Venture Capital Association, Anderson has seen the venture industry in Silicon Valley itself evolve from an early stage activity, to a sophisticated wide-ranging practice, dependent on a thorough understanding of the businesses being backed. In more recent years, former dean of engineering Richard Schwartz and his wife, Mary Joe, have had a major influence in working on projects to bond the alums from Silicon Valley with the university in a meaningful way. Anderson points out, "Once again, it was the personal touch that the dean and his wife provided that made my wife one of Purdue’s biggest fans even before our marriage."
Anderson resides in Palo Alto, California with Carrie, his wife of 10 years, and their three children, Cole (8), Skyler (7) and Paige (5). His oldest son is Lee (16). Anderson is enjoying family life with his children and traveling, as well as an array of personal interests from high tech gadgets to snow skiing and water sports and boats of all description.
Looking back on his time on the Purdue campus, Anderson says, "Following areas of passion have served me well throughout life, and the experience at Purdue with the people, the school, and the Midwest environment has had lifelong implications. Perhaps the most important element of the "educational experience" was out of the classroom, in simply bonding with people across a range of backgrounds, where learning the elements of thoughtful candor and team building was more important then any one class or technical educational experience."