David Morgenthaler, one of the industry’s earliest venture capitalists, passed away on Friday in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, at age 96.
Morgenthaler founded the firm Morgenthaler Ventures in 1968, well before venture capital could yet be considered an industry, even a small one. According to Morgenthaler Ventures, he was also “instrumental” in helping change the U.S. capital gains tax rate from 49 percent to 28 percent in 1978, as well as in amending legislation that allowed pension funds to begin investing in venture capital beginning in 1979.
During his career, Morgenthaler served as director, president or chairman of more than 30 companies.
He is survived by his wife of 71 years, as well as his children — including son Gary, who is also a venture capitalist — grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Morgenthaler Ventures began winding itself down in 2013, when Gary Morgenthaler, Garry Little and Rebecca Lynn, all partners with the firm, raised a $175 million fund under a new brand, Canvas Venture Fund.
Two previous GPs from Morgenthaler did not continue with the new fund, including Bob Pavey, who is now an active angel investor in Cleveland, and Mark Goines, who worked briefly for the firm and is today the chief strategy officer and chief marketing officer of Personal Capital, the digital wealth management startup.
The National Venture Capital Association, on whose board Morgenthaler once served, published a statement a bit ago calling Morgenthaler an “icon of venture capital, titan of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and champion of innovation.”
NVCA president Bobby Franklin suggested that he’d worked actively with Morgenthaler during his tenure over the last three years, adding that Morgenthaler “will be greatly missed by me and the many others from the venture community.”