John Burke, General Partner, True Ventures - John’s passion for building and growing companies began 22 years ago during his days as an engineer for a startup in Oakland, California. As the fourth employee, it was as clear to him then as it is now that it is all about the team. The guiding principle of team has stayed with him throughout his career – first on the programming team in California, then as an engineer for Bechtel Power in San Francisco, and ultimately as a venture investor. However, nowhere was the team principle more important to him than when he started his software company.
John lived through the balancing act of building his own company at BMI Software. There, the constant challenges of deciding who to hire and when to hire them, who to partner with and (of equal importance) who not to partner with fostered essential values that he carries with him today. The overarching importance of working with the right team has been seared into John’s professional life and investing philosophy. For a startup, there are no more important decisions than partnering – whether in business development, selecting the right venture investor, or hiring and firing employees. Having lived through those decisions and having made the mistakes that can be so painful, John is able to guide his portfolio companies through the difficult times with a deftness that only those years of operating experience bring.
Equally important as partners and employees of a startup are the partners in a venture firm. Phil Black and John Burke have been partners since 1999, when they both joined ABS Ventures. Having worked together that long, there is an implicit trust that only years together can build. Phil Black and Jon Callaghan have either worked together or invested together for almost 17 years. These bonds that hold the True partnership together have taken years to forge, and the results of which are evident in the partner interaction and woven into the fabric of the firm.
Howard Rosenberg, CEO - Howard joined eBay in 2002 and was most recently General Manager of the Private Marketplace business, which he launched in mid-2004. Howard has helped a variety of enterprise customers liquidate approximately $700 million in excess inventory in bulk lot, online auctions. His experience includes launching more than 20 marketplaces for a wide variety of customers. Howard spent 4 years on the Advisory Board of the Reverse Logistics Association and has been a frequent speaker on techniques to optimize liquidation recovery at the annual RLA conference.
Prior to launching the Private Marketplace business, he was an early member of the team that built eBay Motors where he focused on business development. Prior to joining eBay, Howard was founder and CEO of a web-based, user generated, online video service offering its members access to a library of independent films streaming on-demand. He raised $3 million of venture funding and ran this company for 18 months before selling it to Hollywood Media (NASDAQ: “HOLL”). Prior to that, he was a venture capitalist with Rosewood Capital investing in branded product manufacturers, business services, retail, restaurants, and e-commerce companies. He was involved in the investment of approximately $70 million in consumer companies. Prior to joining Rosewood, Howard spent 2 years at the Blackstone Group in New York. He holds dual degrees with honors in Economics from The University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Business and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Mike Linton - Mike Linton has been in marketing and general management for nearly 30 years. After graduating from Bowling Green State University and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, he began his career in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble in 1980. He went on to Progressive Insurance, James River Paper Company and Remington in various Marketing and General Management positions. In 1999 Mike moved to Best Buy where he became its first ever Chief Marketing Officer responsible for all marketing, brand management, research, Customer Relationship Management, call centers, the Best Buy Advertising Agency and Public and Investor Relations. In late 2006 he moved to eBay, first in general management as the Senior Vice President of eBay Motors, Canada, Half.com and eBay Stores and then as the CMO. He left eBay in early 2009 and is currently consulting and writing for Forbes.com. He is also on the Board of Directors of Peet’s Coffee & Tea and serves on the advisory boards of a number of venture backed companies.
Mike was named by Promotion Magazine as a Marketer of the Year in 2004 and by Ad Age as one of the most influential 30 marketers in 2003, 2004 and 2005. He has received two Effies and has been a speaker for Forrester, the Marketing Conference Board, the CMO Summit, Forbes CMO Summit, GMA Conference, P&G Alumni Reunion, Accenture Conference, Google National Sales Meeting, Ad Week and Retail Advertising Conference. He is a charter member of the Marketing-50, was elected to the Retail Advertising Hall of Fame in 2008, rang the opening bell at the NYSE and has been featured in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Advertising Age, Fast Company and Promo Magazine.
Mike is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and two children.
Jean Kovacs - Ms. Kovacs has over 30 years experience directing technology companies and a track record of using her strategic business skills and background to deliver exceptional results with growing enterprises. Most recently, she was CEO and co-founder of Comergent Technologies, a leader in the enterprise software space. In this role, Ms. Kovacs spearheaded Comergent’s overall solutions and services strategy, and oversaw the company’s daily operations including product development, sales, marketing, and operations along with her executive team. Comergent became a world-class organization, committed to providing real-world business solutions to global enterprises. In late 2006, Comergent was sold to Sterling Commerce (a division of AT&T) and Ms. Kovacs stayed on as SVP, Corporate Marketing and Strategic Alliances.
Prior to Comergent, Kovacs co-founded Qualix Group, a developer of reliability software in distributed computing environments. As co-founder and Executive Vice President, Kovacs was responsible for managing and directing the engineering, marketing, services, and telesales departments, and was closely involved in the Company’s IPO. Kovacs has also held positions in sales, marketing, and support at Frame Technology, Sun Microsystems, and Compugraphic Corporation.
Kovacs has been profiled by influential publications such as Fortune Magazine, The Financial Times, Computerworld, Internet World and InfoWorld. She was also named to the Silicon Valley/San Francisco Business Journal’s list of Most Influential Women in Business in 2008.
Ms. Kovacs holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. Jean is also Board Chair of BUILD, a non-profit organization that works with high-school students in under-resourced communities, helping them learn business skills, start companies and ultimately get into college.
Heywood Wilansky - Heywood Wilansky served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Retail Ventures Inc. (formerly Value City Department Stores Inc.), the holding company of Filene's Basement, Inc. from November 3, 2004 to January 31, 2009. Mr. Wilansky served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Filene's Basement Inc., a subsidiary of Retail Ventures Inc., from February 3, 2003 to November 3, 2004. He joined Filene's Basement Inc. from the University of Maryland, R.H. Smith School of Business where he was a Professor in the Marketing Department, Retailing Specialty from August 2002 to February 2003. From July 2000 to January 2003, Mr. Wilansky served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Management Resources LLC. From August 1995 to July 2000, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. He was with May Department Stores Company for more than 19 years and finally served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Foley's division from 1992 to 1995 and President and Chief Executive Officer of Filene's division from 1991 to 1992. He served as Executive Vice President for merchandising of Lord & Taylor. Mr. Wilansky held various positions with Hecht's Department Store of Washington, D.C., most recently serving as Senior Vice President and general merchandise manager. He has been Independent Director of Bertucci's Corp. since May 2004, DSW Inc. since March 2005, First Washington Realty Trust, Inc. since 1994. He served as Director of Retail Ventures Inc. from June 2005 to January 31, 2009. He served as a Director of The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc.
Mr. Wilansky received his Bachelor's Degree from Canaan College.
Mike Faust - Mike has lived and worked in Silicon Valley for over 20 years and held executive sales, marketing and operations roles in the enterprise software, cloud computing and semiconductor industries.
Most recently, Mike was VP WW Sales Operations at Magma Design Automation (LAVA) where he was part of the executive team that completed a $500 million acquisition of the company by Synopsys (SNPS). Previously, he was VP North America and Europe Sales for CoWare where he managed the largest, fastest-growing region in the company which resulted in an over $100 million acquisition. Mike has held senior sales and marketing positions with privately-held SAVO Group (a cloud computing leader in sales enablement) and ReShape (a physical design automation software start-up) as well as publicly-traded Cadence Design Systems (CDNS) and Cypress Semiconductor (CY). Mike's global teams have consistently delivered over-plan results selling both established and emerging market products in existing and new accounts.
Mike is also active in his community coaching NJB varsity basketball and volunteering time at Summit San Jose, a local charter high school, on both the sports and facilities committees. Previously, Mike spent four years on the board at a local private elementary/middle school.
Mike has a BS Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MBA from Santa Clara University.