Roger McNamee FR'74 Named a 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
Noted venture capitalist. Author. Musician. Philanthropist. Pioneer. Roger McNamee FR’74 has distinguished himself in a multitude of ways across the fields of media and technology. After graduating college, he knew he wanted to do two things: play music and be financially secure.
During a multi-year break after sophomore year in college, he learned about investing. In business school, he explored ideas that became the groundwork for his innovative investment strategy. McNamee began his career in 1982 at T. Rowe Price Associates, where he managed the top performing Science & Technology Fund. In the next two decades, he launched Integral Capital Partners, the first fund to combine public investments with late stage venture, and co-founded Silver Lake Partners, the first private equity fund focused on technology businesses. In 2004, along with U2’s Bono and former Apple CFO Fred Anderson, he started Elevation Partners, a firm focused on the intersection between technology and media.
Roger’s skills as a musician proved to be an asset in his investing career, where jam sessions were central to culture of the PC industry. He has performed more than 1000 concerts in the bands, Moonalice and Doobie Decibel System, in which he sings and plays guitar. The bands’ websites enable fans to listen to any song or show and to watch every concert on a computer or smartphone. In 2012, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Libraries and Archives acquired the digital logs for one of Moonalice’s songs, which has been downloaded 4.6 million times. Moonalice’s logs help tell the story of music’s digital revolution and the rise of direct-from-artist distribution. The band is the first without a label to achieve 1 million downloads of a single song from its own website. McNamee also serves on the board of directors for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum. He is a co-founder of the Haight Street Art Center and the Center for Counterculture Studies, which celebrate and preserve San Francisco's tradition of music-related poster art.
His long experience in Silicon Valley led to Roger becoming a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg and later an investor in Facebook. After a decade as a cheerleader for Facebook, Roger began in 2016 to see bad actors exploiting Facebook’s advertising tools to commit civil rights violations and interfere in democracy. He reached out to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg in October 2016 to warn them, but was rebuffed. Along with former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris and others, Roger has been engaged in a campaign to trigger a national conversation about the dark side of social media.
McNamee’s best selling book, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe (2019), uses his personal journey of discovery to teach readers about the threat to public health, democracy, privacy, and competition from unregulated internet platforms. Activism has been a full-time job for nearly three years, dominated by speaking engagements and frequent meetings with policy makers. “With a shocking percentage of the country’s population stuck in preference bubbles that blind them to fact,” said McNamee, “we need to think about ways to reconnect people in the real world, to encourage handshakes and eye contact with people who live differently and hold different views.” He is also the author of The New Normal (2004) and The Moonalice Legend: Posters and Words, Volumes 1-8.
McNamee has served as a technical advisor for seasons two through six of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” series, and is a regular guest on CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” and on Ali Velshi’s show on MSNBC. His opinion pieces have been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, the Financial Times and USA Today.
McNamee is a past member of boards of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College (where he co-founded the Glassmeyer/McNamee Center for Digital Strategies), Bryn Mawr College, the GRAMMY Foundation, and the operating business of National Geographic. He helped raise more than $8 million to start the Wikimedia Foundation. He serves on the advisory boards of the Open Markets Institute and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. McNamee attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and holds a B. A. from Yale University and an M.B.A. from Tuck.
PBS NewsHour: The Threat of the New Data Economy