In Memoriam: Venture Capitalist John W. Glynn Jr.
By Melissa Castro Wyatt
Philanthropist, venture capitalist, visionary and Darden School Foundation Trustee John W. Glynn Jr. died while on vacation in Massachusetts on 26 July. He was 83.
Glynn was a 1962 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, a 1965 graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and an MBA graduate from Stanford University. He was the founder and managing director of Glynn Capital Management.
He joined Darden in 1987 as the School’s first venture-capitalist-in-residence and began teaching two years later. His “Venture Capital” course, which he taught for more than 30 years, was a popular and impactful elective that was a “must take” for hundreds of Darden students who have gone on to very successful careers in the venture capital arena. He inspired and later endowed the Law School’s John W. Glynn Jr. Law & Business Program, which has helped introduce thousands of UVA Law students to the language of the corporate world.
In addition to serving on the Darden faculty, Glynn was a Trustee of the Darden School Foundation beginning in 2017. Most recently, he served as Vice Chair of the Investment Committee. He also served on the Darden Batten Institute Advisory Council from 2015-2019. He is a former UVA Law School Foundation Trustee and UVA Law School Dean’s Council Life Member. His daughter Jackie (MBA ’93), of Glynn Capital, also attended Darden.
“I have always appreciated and admired John’s unwavering support of Darden and the University. John used his talents and networks to advance Darden in meaningful ways…” said UVA Darden Dean Scott Beardsley. “John was a brilliant, humble, successful, cultivated gentleman and servant leader that was loyal to Darden and UVA. He was a trail blazer in VC who knew the profession inside out, and wanted Darden to be a catalyst for industry success. But despite his incredible impact and achievements, I will most remember John as a family man.”
While a student at the Law School in the mid-1960s, Glynn met his wife, Barbara, a student at UVA’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. After graduation, Glynn started his brief legal career at the San Francisco firm then known as McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen (Founded in 1883, McCutchen merged with Bingham Dana in 2002).
In 1968, sensing that something big was about to happen in Silicon Valley, Glynn left McCutchen to obtain his MBA at Stanford Business School, focusing on technology and venture capital.
“Silicon Valley was starting to take off in the ’60s, and I was attracted to investing in new technology companies, creating major waves of change and addressing new growth markets that had a chance to really make an impact on our lives, our society and the way we do things,” Glynn said in a 2013 interview with the UVA Law Communications Office. “I was one of the few people in my class who knew, pretty much, what he wanted to do when he graduated. So I spent my two years learning about business, but also building a network of contacts in the venture capital and entrepreneurial world.”
After graduating from Stanford in 1970, Glynn went to work for a venture capital firm focused on emerging technologies. Six months into the job, he met Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore — two engineers who co-founded a company that would become one of the largest semiconductor chipmakers in the world, Intel Corp.
“They had raised a little bit of money a year earlier just to get started, and we ended up putting a substantial amount of money in to help them grow the business,” Glynn said. “So we were a very early investor in Intel and that became a major, successful company and a terrific investment for us.”
Glynn credited Noyce and Moore with helping Glynn start his own firm, Glynn Capital Management, less than five years later in December 1974. Over the years, Glynn and his firm invested in a variety of companies in the semiconductor industry, software, social media and gaming.
Glynn Capital Management was an early investor in Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as DocuSign, Intel and Intuit, among others.
Once Glynn had established himself in business and built his family’s financial security, he and Barbara began supporting UVA through their time, expertise and generosity. In 1995, the Law School established an alumni group called the Business Advisory Council to take advantage of the strength of alumni in business, finance and corporate practice. By 2003, Glynn was a leading member of the group and, as such, helped lobby the school to create a curricular program that would weave business expertise into specialized law classes to help corporate law graduates get up to speed faster in their first jobs.
He recalled working for a mergers and acquisitions partner at McCutchen, “and I had no idea what any of the terminology they were throwing around — ‘pooling,’ ‘accounting’ and what have you — meant,” Glynn said in an interview marking the 20th anniversary of what became the John W. Glynn Jr. Law & Business Program.
With input from Glynn and the council, and under the leadership of then-Dean John C. Jeffries Jr. ’73 and Professor Paul G. Mahoney (who was then associate dean for academic affairs), the school introduced the Law & Business Program in 2003.
“John had a vision of a new way of teaching business law that would integrate financial, accounting, strategic and legal analysis within the foundational business law curriculum,” Mahoney said. “That vision and his abundant energy drove the creation of the John W. Glynn Jr. Law & Business Program and his support institutionalized it.”
Mahoney was in many meetings with Glynn, in connection both with the Law & Business Program and the Law School Foundation. In those meetings, Mahoney said, “John was energetic, but with a calm, gentle demeanor. I never saw him raise his voice or pound the table. It would have been completely unnecessary, because everyone who knew him understood that what he had to say was worth hearing.”
Nearly 90% of J.D. graduates since the spring of 2020 have taken a class in the “Business and Finance” concentration, according to the registrar’s office.
“I saw the Law & Business Program as a great avenue to expand the horizons for our students, to give them some tools that would help them in working with our clients and their legal practice,” Glynn said in his 2013 interview.
Glynn also served as a member of the UVA Law School Foundation’s Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2013 and helped manage the Foundation’s endowment as chair of its investment committee. He continued to serve as an honorary trustee and an adviser to the investment committee until his passing.
In 2022, the Glynns made gifts establishing three professorships, each of which received matching funds through the University’s Bicentennial Professors Fund, resulting in a total impact of $10 million for endowed chairs at the Law School (in Law & Business), the Darden School of Business, and the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, according to an article announcing the gifts. The Glynn professorship in venture capital at Darden is presently held by Professor Les Alexander.
“After years of traveling back and forth from California to teach, I wanted to leave a legacy at the school that will further the study and practice of venture capitalism,” Glynn said of the Darden endowed professorship. “I’ve seen the course’s direct impact on MBAs who now want to be entrepreneurs. This gift to create the first endowed chair in venture capitalism will benefit Darden students for years to come.”
“John’s wisdom, coupled with his and Barbara’s incredible personal generosity, has ensured that the Law School’s world-class educational opportunities are available to generations of future UVA Law students,” Goluboff said Monday. “He was a remarkable man, and a kind and brilliant one. I will miss him, and my thoughts and prayers are with Barbara and the whole Glynn family.”
Glynn considered his investments in students — including his teaching, mentorship and career counseling — to be as important and meaningful as his monetary investments, according to his 2013 interview.
“I’m a believer that, as a young person, your challenge in life is to find something you really have a passion about — it doesn’t have to be business, it can be anything — that’s what you need to pursue because that’s what you’ll be good at,” Glynn said. “That’s what I hope to do in the Law & Business program. Give our students … a chance to think about career opportunities that they would have a passion about.”
The current chair of the UVA Law School Foundation Board of Trustees, Warren Gorrell ’79, said that the Glynns “have made extraordinarily generous contributions to the Law School and the Law School Foundation in so many ways,” calling Glynn “an inspiration and role model for all of us and a wonderful colleague who will be dearly missed.”
Glynn used his 50-plus years of experience at the vanguard of the technology age, Gorrell said, “to help our institution and our students, encouraging them to take risks and aim high with utmost integrity, just as he did.”
Glynn wouldn’t have had it any other way. “Frankly, life goes by very quickly. You know, you only have one chance and you’ve got to find something you love and pursue it aggressively,” Glynn said.
Glynn’s survivors include his wife, Barbara, and four children.
This article originally appeared in UVA Law News. It has been edited for The Darden Report.
The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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