Columbia University

Technology Ventures

2016

Greg Blonder

Area of expertise: 
Tech, Energy
AT&T, AT&T Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures
Year Served: 
Bio 

Greg Blonder is an inventor, scientist, entrepreneur and author. He is currently Professor of Design and Product Engineering at Boston University.

Greg was born into a family of small business owners, and has always found a way to combine his natural talent for innovative ideas, with a path to commercial realization. Mr. Blonder joined AT&T in 1982, initially studying superconductivity and the quantum phenomena of semiconductor materials. In 1987 he was promoted to head of the Photonics and Electronics Research Department, and then in 1991 to director of the Materials and Technology Integration Research Laboratory. In 1992 he assumed the additional responsibility as the Chief Technical Advisor for Corporate Strategy and Development, where he was involved in selecting technical and business strategies for AT&T, and reported to the AT&T board and senior management team.

In 1995, recognizing the need to focus Bell Labs research activities closer to consumer markets, he started the Customer Expectations Research Lab. This lab (Article in Fast Company) tried to understand human behavior through a variety of statistical and cognitive techniques- and then relate those needs to future products and services. They also pioneered a quantitative approach to scenario planning, which has been adopted by a number of companies. In 1996, after Bell Labs moved to Lucent, Greg help create the Claude Shannon Labs at AT&T.

Greg's personal research at AT&T in the 90's was divided between pioneering compelling new services and inventing new classes of consumer electronics devices (such as the AT&T Wrist Telephone). Much of this research resulted in practical applications and he holds over 100 patents in the areas of green energy technology, optical disk recording, integrated fiber optic devices, displays, toys, computer systems, software services and improved user interfaces. He invented or co-invented the original concepts behind two-factor authentication and visual passwords.

In January 1998 Greg decided to leave AT&T Labs, and follow some of these ideas through to the marketplace by joining AT&T Ventures. From 2000-2008 he became a partner at Morgenthaler Ventures, just as the internet bubble was deflating. Fortunately, Greg comes from a long family tradition of operating small businesses, and was able to help step-in as CEO or lead many post-bubble companies to reasonable landings.

Greg is also a director or advisor at a number of private companies, and frequently writes about venture capital, green technology and the economy for Business Week. He develops new products for selected clients- in the last five years, tens of millions of these products have shipped with revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Greg is also the science advisor at AmazingRibs.com, the largest barbecue site on the internet, and helps competitive teams and pitmasters up their game.

Over a twenty five year career he has demonstrated a strong passion to strengthen this country's technological and competitive foundation through entrepreneurship and education. He has lectured at Wharton and Columbia Business Schools, taught at Parsons, and is now Professor of Design and Product Engineering in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Boston University.

Mr. Blonder attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his undergraduate thesis was on phase transitions in liquid crystals. In 1982 he received his MS and Ph.D. in Physics from Harvard University after explaining the physics behind the normal-superconducting transition and sub-harmonic energy gap in point contact junctions.

James Chou

Area of expertise: 
Tech, Energy
Work Market, Shutterstock, American Greetings Interactive
Year Served: 
Bio 

James Chou is a technology executive with 20+ years of enterprise and start-up experience. He is currently the Chief Technology Officer at Work Market, a modern work market and frictionless exchange between business and workers, headquarters in New York City. Prior to joining Work Market, Chou served as CTO and officer for Shutterstock (NYSE:SSTK), where he was a member of the executive team that successfully grew a 80 person start-up leading to an IPO with over $2B market cap in 2012. Before Shutterstock, Mr. Chou served as Senior Vice President and CTO of American Greetings Interactive, the interactive media division of American Greetings Corporation. He’s also held leadership role at Apple, Inc., JP Morgan, and Accenture. He is a member of the Board of Advisors at Duke University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from University at Buffalo and an MBA from Duke FUQUA.

Richard Foster

Area of expertise: 
Biomedical
McKinsey & Company, Lux Capital
Year Served: 
Bio 

Mr. Foster was a Director and Senior Partner with McKinsey & Company where he was responsible for serving clients in the U.S., Europe and Asia focusing on industry sectors including chemicals, electronics, healthcare, retail and consumer goods industries.

During his 31-year tenure with McKinsey & Company and beginning in 1973, Mr. Foster was elected principal (1977) and later Senior Partner and Director (1982), a position he maintained for 22 years. Before leaving McKinsey & Company, Mr. Foster served as founder and Managing Director of McKinsey’s private equity practice. He also founded and led McKinsey’s technology and healthcare sectors. In addition, Mr. Foster led the multi-decade consulting activities with one of McKinsey’s largest clients, a healthcare company.

In April 2011, Mr. Foster joined Lux Capital as a Venture Partner, providing expertise in life sciences and healthcare IT investment.

Mr. Foster currently serves as Chairman of the Board for Ancera Diagnostics and General Semantics, and is on the Board of Directors for Memorial Sloan Ketting Cancer Center, Advantia Health, LeanTaas Analytics, ZocDoc, DrFirst, and SQream Computers.

Mr. Foster received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University.

Keith Lenden

Area of expertise: 
Biomedical
Golgi Therapeutics, Abide Therapeutics, Receptos
Year Served: 
Bio 

As the Founder & CEO of Golgi Therapeutics, Keith is building a strategically focused, early stage biopharmaceutical product funding and development business. The Golgi approach stems from Keith’s 20+ years working at the intersection of biotech innovation, entrepreneurship and venture capital.

Keith has co-founded two successful biotech companies – Receptos (S1P biology and GPCR structure based drug discovery, acquired by Celgene in 2015) and Abide Therapeutics (cannabinoid biology and serine hydrolase drug discovery, partnered with Celgene in 2014). Keith has also served as the Head of Corporate Development for both public and private biopharmaceutical companies (Esperion Therapeutics, Maxygen, Acologix and Genteric). Keith started his career in biotechnology at LEK Consulting.

Keith is an active member and has served on the faculty of the Licensing Executives Society, is a Certified Licensing Professional and has worked with multiple committees of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Keith earned an MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and was a Price Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies Venture Capital Fellow. Keith also studied engineering at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School. Keith is married with two daughters and enjoys live music, hiking, skiing and woodworking.

As a member of Class 16, Keith served his fellowship at both Maxygen and Abide Therapeutics under the mentorship of James Sulat (Maxygen) and Robert Nelsen (ARCH Venture Partners).

Chaki Ng

Area of expertise: 
Tech, Energy
Viacom, MTV, VH1 and CMT
Year Served: 
Bio 

Chaki Ng is an innovation executive at Viacom. Currently he leads Viacom NEXT which does R&D in emerging areas including VR+AR, IoT and AI. Previously he was SVP Product for brands like MTV, VH1 and CMT and launched 15 apps (iOS/Android/XBOX) and responsive sites with hundreds of millions of video streams annually and covering properties like MTV News and Video Music Awards shows. He co-founded and sold Interactive Constructs, a 70-people adaptive eLearning platform company that powered innovative web products such as Read180 for top publishers (Scholastic, Harcourt, Pearson) that have combined over a billion student/teacher page views annually. Chaki holds PhD and SM degrees in Computer Science from Harvard, MBA from MIT Sloan and BS in CS from Northeastern. His academic research includes sensor networks, market design and pervasive computing. Some of his projects are at www.chaki.com.

Mark Pinney

Area of expertise: 
Tech, Energy
Vimeo, AOL, Magnetic, Tremor Video, Tacoda, Acorda Therapeutics, Ceregene and Embol-X
Year Served: 
Bio 

Mark R. E. Pinney, M.B.A., M.Sc., C.F.A. is a seasoned finance executive and serial entrepreneur with a track record in the formation and development of early-stage Internet-based technology companies. He has experience in strategy development, venture and growth capital fundraising, forecasting, valuation, M&A and IPOs.

He is currently CFO of Magnetic, a leading search retargeting company, having joined from Vimeo, a digital video platform company owned by IAC (InterActiveCorp, “IACI”) where he was CFO. Prior to this, he was CFO of Lot18, a consumer facing e-commerce company, and CFO of Tremor Video, a digital video advertising and technology company that went public in 2013. Earlier, he was CFO and Chief Privacy Officer of Tacoda, an internet advertising network and technology company that was purchased by AOL in 2007. In the transition to AOL, he served as SVP, Business Planning at AOL.

Before Tacoda, he was CFO and Director of Acorda Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that went public in 2006, and also Chairman of CanDo, an Internet company offering product and service solutions to people with disabilities. In 1998, he co-founded and was CEO of LifeWire, a company that merged with CanDo in 2000. In 1995, Mr. Pinney co-founded Real Media, an Internet advertising software and services firm that merged to form 24/7 Real Media in 2001. He also participated in the start-up of Acorda Therapeutics. Previously, he was VP, Private Transactions at Dillon Read & Co. (1988-92) and VP, Corporate Finance for Merrill Lynch Capital Markets (1984-88).

Mr. Pinney received his undergraduate degree in engineering at the University of Exeter, England, his MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and his masters degree in electrical engineering from Columbia University; he is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. He has served as a Trustee to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and on the Advisory Board of the United Spinal Association. He lives in New York City with his wife and three daughters.

Laura Smoliar

Area of expertise: 
Tech, Energy
Managing Director, Global Innovation Foundry
Year Served: 
Bio 

Laura has spent nearly two decades in Silicon Valley’s technology sector. She co-founded Global Innovation Foundry, LLC in 2014 to connect innovation, market opportunity, and investors between the U.S. and Asia. Her own startup experience building strategic partnerships and raising funds from Asia inform her approach to solving complex problems across different cultures and economies, harnessing the best assets of large corporations and small companies. Laura is a Columbia College graduate and has coached teams through the Entrepreneurship Coaches Network of Columbia University. She also holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kristen Morrissey Thiede

Area of expertise: 
Tech, Energy
Starry, Google
Year Served: 
Bio 

Kristen Morrissey Thiede is an entrepreneur, leader and connector. Kristen leads Business Development and Corporate Strategy for Starry. She formally ran Business Development and Content Licensing for Google Fiber.

As a Google veteran of 14 years, Kristen has a history of establishing new businesses at global scale. Kristen has led early stage partnership efforts across Google’s global portfolio including the launch of AdSense for content and distribution efforts globally, and Google.org‘s Crisis response team to Haiti, Chile, and Pakistan. She is a graduate of the University of the South with a BA in Political Science, and lives in New York City.