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>  News Releases >   2006 >   October

Gift goes to support undergraduate entrepreneurship

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 10/20/06 • Genevieve Haas • (603) 646-3661

Leaders of Wily Technology give $1 million to encourage start ups

A Dartmouth graduate who founded the Silicon Valley-based firm, Wily Technology, along with the company's chairman and lead investor (also a Dartmouth alumnus), and its Dartmouth alumni employees, have given the College a gift valued at approximately $1 million. The gift will be used to support the creation of an endowed scholarship called the Wily Scholars Fund, and to establish a fund for undergraduate internships in early-stage technology companies, called the Wily Initiative Fund.

"Along with helping undergraduates, the Wily Funds are intended to further entrepreneurial successes by Dartmouth alumni, and to encourage other Dartmouth entrepreneurs to join together to contribute to this activity."

- Lewis Cirne '93

"The goal of each is to encourage the pursuit of entrepreneurial careers, especially in technology, by Dartmouth undergraduates," says Lewis Cirne '93, who launched Wily Technology in 1998. David Strohm '70, a venture capitalist with Greylock Partners, and chairman of Wily Technology, is also a primary donor to the Wily Funds.

In making the announcement, Dartmouth President James Wright said, "The Wily Funds will help future generations of Dartmouth men and women experience first-hand what it takes to launch a high tech start-up company." He also noted that the gift was the first liquidity event in the College's Startup Stock Program, which enables entrepreneurs to make gifts or pledges of restricted stock in privately held, early-stage companies.

In making the gift, Strohm and Cirne also want to highlight that the founding of entrepreneurial companies, especially in technology industries, has been the source of great value creation, and that several leading universities, such as Stanford and MIT, have benefited tremendously from that experience. "The 'ecosystem' or 'network effects' that result from this concentration of technically trained and entrepreneurial graduates is clear in the sense that Stanford is intertwined with Silicon Valley, and MIT with Routes 128/495," says Strohm.

"Perhaps because of its geographic location and separation from a major economic center Dartmouth has not benefited from the same robust flow of its graduates to technology companies founded by Dartmouth alumni," says Cirne. "We hope this gift will encourage and support that flow."

The story of Wily Technology, an enterprise software firm that was founded, funded, developed, and eventually sold for nearly $400 million by Dartmouth alumni, illustrates the value of the Dartmouth network--to alumni and to individuals and groups at the College involved in entrepreneurial endeavors.

"Although Wily was founded and built in Silicon Valley, it was a Dartmouth 'network' that converged to produce this success," says Cirne. "Dartmouth alumni from different backgrounds and different generations came together to build the company, which ultimately led to a gift of company stock to Dartmouth."

Following graduation from Dartmouth, Cirne joined Apple Computer in a product development role. After three years there followed by two years at Hummingbird Communications, he became fascinated with the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial process, and began thinking about starting a company of his own. Cirne started Wily in 1998 in an apartment in Santa Cruz, Calif.

"I had followed the emergence of the Java programming language for some time, and I projected that Java-built, web-based applications would become increasingly important with the growth of the Internet," Cirne says. Specifically, he saw a need for an embedded "instrumentation" technology that would allow this new generation of applications to be effectively deployed and managed.

For help in forming his new company, Cirne turned to Carey Heckman '76, whom Cirne had known since his freshman year at Dartmouth. In 1998, Heckman was a faculty member at Stanford Law School and the Stanford computer science department who was active in start-up formation and financing. Heckman was among the first investors in Wily, and served as a board member and advisor to Cirne for eight years. Cirne then sought to better capitalize the business by raising a small amount of seed capital. Once again he turned to the Dartmouth network. Along with Heckman, a substantial investor in this seed round was Robert Elliott King '57.

When it was time to launch Wily, Cirne called upon some of the people he knew best--fellow Dartmouth graduates who had migrated to different Silicon Valley companies. The starting team included Jeff Cobb '92, Jon Ruiz '93, Carl Seglem '92, Bill Lapcevic '93, Dan Scholnick '00, Dave Martin '00, Dave Latham '01 and Mark Sachleben '86. Moreover, Cirne actively recruited and employed promising Dartmouth undergraduates as interns. One example was Scholnick's early involvement as an intern working on development of Wily's first product release, Introscope 1.0, which was key to the company's success.

In June 1999, Cirne felt it was time to seek full venture capital financing for Wily. Dave Strohm '70 was a general partner with the venture capital firm Greylock in Palo Alto, having founded Greylock's Silicon Valley operation in 1983. Greylock became Wily's primary investor in 2000, and Strohm joined Wily's board, serving as chairman until Wily's acquisition by Computer Associates in March 2006.

"Six years earlier, in August 2000, Dave Strohm and I had shaken hands and agreed to donate a portion of our shares of Wily stock to Dartmouth if Wily were ever to go public or be sold," says Cirne.

"Along with helping undergraduates, the Wily Funds are intended to further entrepreneurial successes by Dartmouth alumni, and to encourage other Dartmouth entrepreneurs to join together to contribute to this activity."

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