David Cowan (entrepreneur)

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David Cowan is a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist, entrepreneur, and company founder. He is in the Forbes Midas List Hall of Fame and has appeared on the Midas List 14 times since 2001.[1][2] He co-founded three companies, including Verisign. He has invested in more than 24 companies that have gone on to IPO.[1] He is also noted for his support of scientific skepticism and of the work of Richard Dawkins.

Early life and education[edit]

Cowan was raised in New Rochelle, New York.[3] He earned his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from Harvard University in 1988. He received his MBA from Harvard in 1992.[1]


Venture capital and entrepreneurship[edit]

Cowan joined Bessemer Venture Partners in 1992. His notable investments there include LinkedIn, Qualys, Twitch, Twilio, Rocket Lab, Skybox Imaging, Blue Nile, Verisign, Ciena and LifeLock. Of his investments, 24 have gone on to IPO.[1] Bessemer was Twilio’s largest shareholder at the time of its 2016 IPO,[4] a stake worth over $500 million.[1]

In 1995, Cowan co-founded network infrastructure company Verisign and served as its initial chairman.[5] The company went public in 1998 and is currently traded on NASDAQ.[6]

In 1996, Cowan co-founded mobile email software platform Visto, serving as its initial CEO. Visto later purchased Good Technology and the merged company was acquired by Blackberry in 2015.[7]

In 2012, Cowan co-founded DDOS prevention firm Defense.Net.[8][9] It was acquired by F5 Networks in 2014.[10]

Other professional activities[edit]

In 2006, Cowan published a blog post questioning claims made regarding the dietary supplement Airborne, which he alleged was improperly marketed as a cold remedy.[11] Cowan’s blog post became the primary source for a Scientific American article,[12] which in turn led to a lawsuit against Airborne that caused significant marketing changes and a $23.5 million fine by the Federal Trade Commission.[13][14]

Cowan previously served as a Trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science before it merged with the Center for Inquiry.[15] He serves as a board member of the merged organization.[16]

Cowan holds several United States patents, including patents regarding consumer behavior (assigned to Groupon following the acquisition of MashLogic)[17] and network security[18].

Professional Awards and Recognition[edit]

  • Forbes Midas List Hall of Fame[19]
  • Forbes Midas List: Appeared 14 years between 2001 and 2018[20][2]
  • Forbes Midas List 2001 (inaugural list): #6 (tied)[21]

Personal life[edit]

Cowan sings in the a capella group Voices in Harmony.[22] He wrote and directed the musical “Lies in the Attic,” which was performed by the group in 2016.[23]

He co-wrote and starred in the Silicon Valley mockumentary “Bubbleproof,” which was produced by the Femtofilm project in 2017.[24][25]

He is the brother of former New York Times reporter Alison Leigh Cowan.[26]

Cowan identifies as atheist.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "David Cowan". Forbes.
  2. ^ a b "The Space Companies Getting A Boost From Midas List Members". Forbes.
  3. ^ "YU Wall Street Group Hosts Community Events".
  4. ^ "FORM S-1: Twilio Inc".
  5. ^ Shah, Tarang; Shah, Shital (24 January 2012). "Venture Capitalists at Work: How VCs Identify and Build Billion-Dollar Successes". Apress. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  6. ^ "VeriSign IPO well-received". CNET. 30 January 1998.
  7. ^ "BlackBerry to acquire Good Technology for $425 million". CrackBerry.com. 4 September 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  8. ^ "David Cowan". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  9. ^ "Cyber Security Expert Barrett Lyon Brings Defense.net Out Of Stealth To Battle A New Wave Of DDoS Attacks – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com.
  10. ^ Team, Trefis. "F5 Expands Its Security Portolio With Defense.Net". Forbes. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  11. ^ Cowan, David (19 April 2006). "Who Has Time For This?: CREATED BY A SCHOOL TEACHER!!!!!". Who Has Time For This?. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  12. ^ Shermer, Michael. "Airborne Baloney". Scientific American. pp. 32–32. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0107-32. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  13. ^ Shermer, Michael (12 January 2016). "Skeptic: Viewing the World with a Rational Eye". Henry Holt and Company.
  14. ^ "Makers of Airborne Settle FTC Charges of Deceptive Advertising; Agreement Brings Total Settlement Funds to $30 Million". Federal Trade Commission. 14 August 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Center for Inquiry News: Two Great Freethought Organizations Are Now One". www.centerforinquiry.net. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Board and Staff: Richard Dawkins Foundation". www.richarddawkins.net. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  17. ^ US 9489352, "System and method for providing content to users based on interactions by similar other users" 
  18. ^ US 7039679B2, "System and method for globally and securely accessing unified information in a computer network" 
  19. ^ Upbin, Bruce. "Who's Been On The Midas List More Than Anyone?". Forbes. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  20. ^ Upbin, Bruce. "Who's Been On The Midas List More Than Anyone?". Forbes.
  21. ^ "Midas List". Forbes. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Beatles and barbershop blend in 'Lies in the Attic' musical". The Mercury News. 10 February 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Beatles and barbershop blend in 'Lies in the Attic' musical". The Mercury News. 10 February 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  24. ^ "David Cowan". IMDb. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  25. ^ "Watch the first nine episodes of the Silicon Valley mockumentary 'Bubbleproof' – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  26. ^ "Alison Leigh Cowan". The School of The New York Times. Retrieved 31 March 2018.
  27. ^ "Board and Staff: Richard Dawkins Foundation". www.richarddawkins.net. Retrieved 31 March 2018.

External links[edit]