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John Harbison (CEO)

  • As CEO of TechSpin, John assists companies in technology commercialization, helping clients extract and realize truly incremental value through successful technology licensing, partnerships and spinoffs. TechSpin adds value both in spinning technology out (licensing, spin-outs into new companies) and spinning technology in (sourcing discriminating technologies for defense applications from companies outside defense). The former creates value through incremental cash flow and liquidity events, and the later allows aerospace/defense clients to realize incremental revenue/profit by serving as a "channel" to defense customers.
  • As president of Raytheon Commercial Ventures Inc. (RCVI), John reported to Raytheon’s Chairman/CEO and led a new subsidiary to identify defense technologies with promising commercial applications; sought external capital to spin out businesses into separate companies. and served on Raytheon Leadership Team. In less than two years, RCVI launched 4 businesses involving outside investors --Systemonic (802.11 wireless LAN chipsets), Alon/Surmet (an advanced superhard "bulletproof" transparent aluminum), Valeo Raytheon Systems (automotive radar with initial application in side blindspot detection) and SilentRunner (network security software). Overall RCVI accessed over $100 million in outside capital in transactions that yielded over $50 million in equity for Raytheon. Two of these spinouts subsequently realized liquidity events -- the sale of Systemonic to Philips in December 2002 and the sale of SilentRunner to Computer Associates. Valeo Raytheon Systems sold over one million sensors and achieved $700 million in annual revenue within eight years of inception.
  • As co-founder of Next Autoworks (formerly V-Vehicle Company), served as COO, CFO and Chief Strategy Officer at this disruptive new American car company backed by a stellar set of investors including Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, T. Boone Pickens and others. Next Autoworks focused on delivering industry-leading results by implementing a disruptive business model that leverages the knowledge and scale of the automotive industry while avoiding entrenched bureaucracy and reducing inefficiencies in all aspects of the auto business, from development through distribution. Cutting out all the bureaucracy and focusing on producing the best car and the best customer purchasing/ownership experience, the team created a dramatically lower cost, lower capital, lower breakeven business model. The first car (code-named V Car) was a sub-compact car designed, engineered and built in America for Americans that delivered best-in-class safety, fuel economy, emissions, roominess and handling at a price dramatically less than competition This was accomplished through an extremely collaborative approach -- designing the car by working closely together with our world-class suppliers in a co-development process called “AutoWorks”, and re-inventing the retail experience by inviting prominent dealers to participate in “DealerWorks” sessions with us. The goal was a no-haggle-no hassle purchasing experience -- think next generation Saturn customer experience coupled with a better car at a lower price. First prototype logged over 7000 miles, and scored well in consumer focus groups. Overall, Next Autoworks' intent was to be the Southwest Airlines of the car business.
  • As CEO of SilentRunner Inc., John led a six-month turnaround of this network security software start-up (spun out from Raytheon) culminating in a successful sale to Computer Associates. SilentRunner won many awards including PC Magazine's Editor's Choice award for Event Monitoring and 2002 Best of Year in Networking Software, as well as Computerworld Honors 21st Century Award. In the role of CEO, John 1) repositioned product development from log analyzer/forensics tool to a behavior-based adaptive network security solution addressing specific significant pain points (insider trading and money laundering for banks, cellular fraud for telecom, SCADA for utilities, HIPAA compliance for medical); 2) cut costs (burn rate) by 45%, and kept people motivated through the first RIF in company history; 3) improved end-user sales per employee by 80%; 4) restructured sales and product management processes, and improved cross-functional interaction and communication; and 5) positioned for profitability and successful exit.
  • As Vice President at Booz•Allen Hamilton (now Booz & Co.), John specialized in strategic transformation across a wide variety of industries. He led the firm’s Aerospace/Defense Practice, its Strategic Alliances functional practice, its Los Angeles office and at one point served as the youngest member of the board of directors and as chairman of the finance committee. His current activities at Tech-Spin leverage the skills base and expertise he developed over the years at Booz·Allen -- strategic assessments of market opportunities, alliances/technology commercialization, and defense technology understanding.
  • As an external “talking head”, John has authored articles and been quoted in over 40 publications, and has appeared on network news broadcasts on ABC, CNN, CNBC, CBS, PBS and Bloomberg. He has been a keynote speaker at such forums as AIA, EIA and the Conference Board. He co-authored the book Smart Alliances: A Practical Guide to Repeatable Success, which for five years earned the distinction on Amazon of the best selling book on alliances and acquisitions among over 250 titles on that subject. He has also authored eight Aerospace/Defense viewpoints, which have been widely read and quoted in Aviation Week, Defense News and other prominent publications. In March 2001, Aviation Week nominated Mr. Harbison and his team for their highest honor, the Aerospace Laurel Award.
  • Harbison is currently an active member of Tech Coast Angels, the largest angel investor network in the United States, and recently was elected President of the Orange County Network; TCA provides funding and guidance to more early-stage, high-growth companies in Southern California than any other venture capital, angel or other private equity group. Harbison has led 8 deals and currently serves on the boards of two of these start-ups
  • In his free time, Harbison is a photographer (see and participates on the Board of the Los Angeles Council for the Boy Scouts of America, where he served as Chairman from 2000-2001
  • Mr. Harbison received a BA cum laude in English from Harvard University, an MS in accounting from NYU Stern and a MBA from Harvard Business School with first year honors.
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