Jump to content

Pete Musser

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pete Musser
Warren Van Dyke Musser[1]

(1926-12-15)December 15, 1926
DiedNovember 25, 2019(2019-11-25) (aged 92)
EducationLehigh University
OccupationChairman of the Musser Group
Known forBillionaire on paper during the dot-com bubble

Warren Van Dyke "Pete" Musser (December 15, 1926 – November 25, 2019) was the chairman of the Musser Group. He was the founder of Safeguard Scientifics, a venture capital firm that invested in technology companies. At the peak of the dot-com bubble, Musser was a billionaire on paper; however, when the bubble burst, he lost almost his entire fortune.[2][3]

Musser was a philanthropist and The Musser Foundation has donated over $50 million to organizations including the Boy Scouts of America.[4] Musser has served on the board of directors of the Cradle of Liberty Council. The Musser Award for Excellence in Leadership from Fox School of Business and Management at Temple University and the Musser Scout Reservation in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, are named after Musser.

Early life and education[edit]

Musser was born in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area on December 15, 1926[5] and earned a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering at Lehigh University in 1949.[6]


In 1952, at the age of 25, Musser went to work as a stockbroker trainee for Hornblower & Weeks. The next year, he left the company with others to form their own company.[4] In 1955, his company acquired Safe-Guard Corporation and in 1966, Musser's firm changed its name to Safeguard Industries. Musser invested in technology companies in Philicon Valley such as QVC, Comcast, and Novell, which resulted in a $200 million profit.[4][7][8]

In March 1996, when Ken Fox and Walter Buckley left Safeguard Scientifics to form Internet Capital Group (later Actua Corporation), they asked Musser for $5 million in funding, but he insisted on investing $15 million. At the height of the dot-com bubble, the company had a market capitalization of almost $60 billion, making Musser a paper billionaire.[9] Musser was a director of TyCom, a subsidiary of Tyco International, and in December 2000, he borrowed $14.1 million from Tyco executives Dennis Kozlowski and Mark H. Swartz[10][11]

On November 29, 2000, after the burst of the dot-com bubble, to repay a loan, Musser was forced to sell 6.5 million of his shares in Safeguard Scientifics for $8.25 per share, or $53.7 million. The stock price was down over 90% from the peak of $99 per share 9 months earlier. This left him with 560,000 shares in the company.[12] In 2003, Musser defaulted on a $26.5 million loan from Safeguard Scientifics.[13]

Musser was a member of the board of directors of Brandywine Realty Trust from 1996, when the company acquired properties from a joint venture of Safeguard Scientifics, until 2002.[14]

Personal life[edit]

Musser married and divorced Betty K. Musser (née Umstad)[15] and then Hilary Grinker Musser, who was 39 years younger than him.[16]

Musser's son, Craig, a renowned kaleidoscope artist under the name Van Dyke, was partnered with Bruce Darda, a New York based tech executive, at the time of his death from AIDS in 1986.[17]

Musser spent lavishly on his residences, building his-and-hers tennis courts on his Nantucket residence and spending $100,000 on special garage doors.[10]

Musser also was a contributor to Republican causes.[18] He died on November 25, 2019.[19][20]


  1. ^ Fund Raiser's Guide to Private Fortunes. 1992-11-01. ISBN 9780914756583. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  2. ^ Key, Peter (August 5, 2002). "2001: Pete Musser's last stand". American City Business Journals.
  3. ^ Gasparino, Charlie (March 5, 2016). "Life After Lehman Brothers: Dick Fuld's Murky Investment Secrets". Fox Business.
  4. ^ a b c Torres, Roberto (July 20, 2017). "Famed Philly investor Pete Musser has a word of warning for Elon Musk". Technically Media.
  5. ^ Who's who in Finance and Industry. Marquis Who's Who, LLC. August 1981. ISBN 9780837903224. Retrieved 2019-11-26.
  6. ^ "Lehigh U. Receives $10 Million Alumnus Warren Musser Donates The Largest Sum Ever From An Individual". The Morning Call. February 16, 1996.
  7. ^ Dubow, Charles (October 3, 2000). "Silicon Valley Forge". Forbes.
  8. ^ "Pete Musser built his company over 40 years. Then he was Seduced by the Internet. And his billion-dollar fortune melted away". Fortune. March 5, 2001.
  9. ^ Serwer, Andy (September 17, 2001). "Following The Money Some 680 men, women, techies, and, yes, schools got pre-IPO shares of Internet highflier ICG. Here's how they became insiders and what they did as the stock crashed". Fortune.
  10. ^ a b Berenson, Alex (March 29, 2002). "Board Member Of Tyco Unit Owed Millions To 2 Executives". The New York Times.
  11. ^ Cohen, Laurie P.; Maremont, Mark (September 24, 2002). "Tyco's Dealings With Musser Are Examined by Prosecutors". The Wall Street Journal.(subscription required)
  12. ^ Key, Peter (January 15, 2001). "Safeguard CEO, wife borrow $14M on vacation house". American City Business Journals.
  13. ^ "SAFEGUARD SCIENTIFICS, INC. September 2003 Form 10-Q Quarterly Report". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  14. ^ Kostelni, Natalie (April 15, 2002). "Musser to step down as trustee of Brandywine". American City Business Journals.
  15. ^ "Betty K. Musser, 91, philanthropist". The Philadelphia Inquirer. February 14, 2015.
  16. ^ Kostelni, Natalie (March 3, 2008). "$3M opening auction bid sought for Musser mansion". American City Business Journals.
  17. ^ "THE AIDS MEMORIAL on Instagram: "— Eric Ashworth (November 6, 1957 — July 20, 1997) was a literary agent who died of AIDS in Manhattan. He was 39 years old - Ashworth…"". Instagram. Archived from the original on 2021-12-25. Retrieved 2019-04-17.
  18. ^ "Republican Federal Cmte of Pennsylvania Contributors". OpenSecrets.
  19. ^ "Musser, legendary tech investor, passes away". November 26, 2019.
  20. ^ DiStefano, Joseph N. "Warren 'Pete' Musser, longtime Pennsylvania investor, dead at 92; service Feb. 8". Philadelphia Inquirer.