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William Lee, on Entrepreneurial Success

William Lee

Co-Founder & Managing Director

San Francisco

William Lee is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of Pilot Growth Equity and is based in San Francisco. Will has been creating software for 32 years and investing in technology companies for 22 years. He is a visionary technology entrepreneur, operator, systems architect, and investor. Will is the creator of NavPod, Pilot Growth’s Artificial Intelligence based Automated Deal Sourcing and Workflow Engine. Will currently serves on the boards of r4 Technologies, Velocidi and Webgility. Will’s other active investments in the funds include Bizzabo, CB Insights, Metabiota and Perthera. Will’s previous investments include Zenedge (acquired by Oracle), where he served on the board, FirstBest Systems (acquired by Guidewire), Counsyl (acquired by Myriad Genetics) and PMC.

Will began his career at Motorola, where he led the development of mobile-based operating systems and award-winning component-based software. Will was then a Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of The Theory Center, where he was the visionary and architect behind the company’s Enterprise JavaBeans component-based products. The Theory Center was a bootstrapped enterprise software company that raised $2 million from friends and family and was acquired by BEA Systems in 1999 for more than $160 million. Will stayed on at BEA as Senior Director of Technology in BEA’s WebLogic eCommerce Applications Group. He led and executed the group’s technology sales strategies for worldwide markets, growing revenues to over $100 million in 2001. He was awarded two United States patents for his work on enterprise software components that ultimately became part of Oracle Fusion Middleware.

Beginning in 2000, Will served as a Co-Founder and Managing Director of NextStage LLC, a private investment firm. At NextStage, he brought together a network of entrepreneurs and investors with a focus on building early stage technology companies. There, he seed funded and was a Co-Founder of FirstBest Systems in 2006, where he served as the Executive Vice President of Business Development, responsible for corporate strategy, finance, and business partnerships. FirstBest Systems, whose acquisition by Guidewire was announced in August, 2016, is now the leading provider of insurance underwriting software solutions that has processed over $12 billion worth of policies.

Will worked together with ultra high net-worth investors to develop a private quantitative trading platform with a strategy of absolute returns, low volatility, and minimal downside risk. Will was the architect of this proprietary trading platform to manage core family assets. It has been a consistent top decile performer since its inception relative to industry standard hedge fund ratings.

Will has also worked on academic research projects including, but not limited to, first generation wearable computers for the United States military, robotics for space exploration, pre-Internet HTML, and fault tolerant distributed multimedia encoding systems.

Will holds a Bachelor of Science with University Honors and Research Honors from Carnegie Mellon University in Mathematics / Computer Science, and Computer Engineering. He also earned a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Cornell University as a Motorola Fellowship recipient.

Will is an avid sailor and has captained in the North Sea, Mediterranean, Adriatic Sea, Caribbean, Atlantic, Sea of Cortez, French Polynesia, Australia, New Zealand, and Andaman Sea.

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