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Roger McNamee

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Roger McNamee
McNamee in 2021
Born (1956-05-02) May 2, 1956 (age 68)[1]
EducationYale University (BA)[2]
Dartmouth College (MBA)[3]
Occupation(s)Businessman, venture capitalist, musician
(m. 1983)

Roger McNamee (born May 2, 1956)[1] is an American businessman, investor, venture capitalist and musician. He is the founding partner of the venture capital firm Elevation Partners. Prior to co-founding the firm, McNamee co-founded private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and headed the T. Rowe Price Science and Technology Fund.

McNamee is also a touring musician, first as a founding member of the Flying Other Brothers, and more recently in that group's follow-on band, Moonalice. Counting two groups, McNamee estimated that he had played 800 shows as of 2009.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

McNamee was born on May 2, 1956, in Albany, New York.[1] His father, Daniel, was an investment banker. He was the president of the Albany chapter of the Urban League. Barbara, his mother, was a feminist during the 60s. When McNamee was 12 years old, he protested against the Vietnam War, and volunteered for Eugene McCarthy's campaign for president.[5] He has a BA in history from Yale University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.[6][1]

Career at T. Rowe Price[edit]

McNamee joined T. Rowe Price as an analyst in 1982, after receiving his M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business.[3]

By 1989 he was leading the firm's Science & Technology Fund, a period when the fund returned about 17% annually to investors.[7] In a move atypical for mutual funds, he made venture capital investments in Electronic Arts (which went public in 1989) and Sybase (which had its IPO in 1991).[8]

Integral Capital Partners[edit]

In 1991 McNamee co-founded Integral Capital Partners with John Powell and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins to invest in expansion stage private companies and growth-stage public companies.[9]

Silver Lake Partners[edit]

In 1999, McNamee was one of the founding partners of leveraged buyout firm Silver Lake Partners.[10]

Elevation Partners[edit]

In 2004, McNamee co-founded Elevation Partners along with a number of other investors including U2 frontman Bono. He currently serves as its managing director.[11] Elevation Partners investments have included Palm, Inc., Forbes, and Facebook.[12]

Music career[edit]

McNamee is also a musician. He played in the band Flying Other Brothers from 1997 to 2006.[13] His current band, Moonalice, formed in 2007 after acclaimed producer T Bone Burnett approached McNamee about creating a new band in the spirit of the San Francisco psychedelic era.[14] Roger has written for, and played guitar, bass, and vocals in the band since 2007, using the stage persona of "Chubby Wombat Moonalice."[7] In 2014 he formed a duo with Jason Crosby called the Doobie Decibel System.[15] In 2015, The Doobie Brothers sued the band over the name.[16]

McNamee appeared in the 2021 award-winning documentary, The Tale of the Dog, which chronicles the outsized historical impact that the Denver music venue, The Family Dog Denver,[17] had on the changing city.[18]

Music and technology[edit]

With Elevation Partners "perhaps best known for its early investment in Facebook," McNamee said in 2013, for him, “music and technology have converged.”

He became expert on Facebook by using it to promote ... Moonalice, and now is focusing on video by live-streaming its concerts. He says musicians and top professionals share “the almost desperate need to dive deep.” This capacity to obsess seems to unite top performers in music and other fields.[19]

McNamee is the co-writer of the Moonalice song "It's 4:20 Somewhere".[20] In August 2012 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced that the digital logs for "It’s 4:20 Somewhere" had been acquired for its library and archives, describing the Moonalice logs as helping to "...tell the story of music’s digital revolution; specifically the rise of direct-from-artist (DFA) distribution. Moonalice is the first band without a label to achieve one million downloads of a song from its own servers, direct-from-artist. “It’s 4:20 Somewhere” has been downloaded over 4.6 million times".[21][22]

Relationship with Wikipedia[edit]

According to The New York Times, McNamee has been instrumental in arranging at least two $500,000 donations to the Wikimedia Foundation.[23][24] Roger McNamee is a member of the Wikipedia Foundation's advisory board, and acts "as a special advisor to the executive director on business and strategy issues."[25]


Bill Gates wrote in his book The Road Ahead: "Roger was a great sounding board for many of the ideas I wrote about".[7] Mark Zuckerberg (who met McNamee in summer 2006 at a time when Facebook reportedly had buyout offers of around $750 million) said McNamee was "emphatic" that Facebook not be sold; Zuckerberg stated he "clearly cared about building something long-term and about the impact of the things we build as opposed to just making money in the short term," advice that Portfolio.com called "prescient": in October 2007, Facebook sold just 1.6 percent of the company to Microsoft for $240 million.[7] McNamee himself confirmed that.[26]

In the autumn of 2017 McNamee met with US legislators who were preparing to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections. McNamee had prepared for them a curriculum, stating that the real problem was the divisions social media platforms were creating among Americans, of which Adam Schiff, member of the House Intelligence Committee said, "Roger was really ahead of the curve. Time has borne out his warnings."[5]

Haight Street Art Center[edit]

McNamee has been heavily involved in the creation of the Haight Street Art Center which celebrates San Francisco's tradition of music-related poster art. He donated $1 million to help fund the center, and has committed an additional $1 million to help keep it operating.[27]

Criticism of Facebook[edit]

An early investor in Facebook, McNamee became very critical of its impact on society and US democracy, as expressed in his Op-Eds for USA Today and The Guardian.[28][29] Earlier, on CNBC, he said that he had tried to warn Facebook about the impact of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections.[30] He has also been interviewed by NPR on the topic.[31] As part of this effort, McNamee joined the Center for Humane Technology as a founding advisor.[32] In May 2019, he appeared before the House of Commons privacy and ethics committee in Ottawa, calling for governments to temporarily shut down Facebook and other social media sites until they reform.[33] On 25 September 2020, McNamee was named as one of the 25 members of the "Real Facebook Oversight Board", an independent monitoring group over Facebook.[34]


McNamee wrote the book, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, published by Penguin Press February 5, 2019,[35] which was listed as a New York Times Best Seller February 24, 2019.[36]

Personal life[edit]

McNamee has been married to the musical theorist and singer/songwriter Ann McNamee since 1983. The couple founded an elephant sanctuary in Tehama County, northern California, now known as Tembo Preserve.[37][38][39][40]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Techie guy by day, rocker guy by night", a January 28, 2005 article from USA Today
  2. ^ "President's Advisory Committee on Digital Yale". Yale University. Archived from the original on 16 February 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Tuck Investiture". Tuck School of Business. Archived from the original on 8 August 2010.
  4. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (April 13, 2009). "Investment pays off for late-blooming rocker". San Francisco Chronicle.
  5. ^ a b Barth, Brian (2019-11-25). "Big Tech's Big Defector". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  6. ^ "Biography of Roger McNamee for Appearances, Speaking Engagements". www.allamericanspeakers.com. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  7. ^ a b c d "Rock Stars of Tech". Portfolio.com. December 16, 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-25.
  8. ^ "Twitter Lures In An Unusual Backer". The Wall Street Journal. September 25, 2009. Archived from the original on September 28, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-25. Alternate link at MarketWatch.
  9. ^ "crossover fund, Integral Capital Partners About Integral". www.icp.com. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  10. ^ "Roger McNamee inscribes Silver Lake in the 'Failure Chronicles'". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  11. ^ "Elevation Partners : : Investment Team". www.elevation.com. Archived from the original on 2017-11-02. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  12. ^ "Elevation Partners : : News". www.elevation.com. Archived from the original on 2008-03-03. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  13. ^ "Flying Other Brothers". www.fob.com.
  14. ^ "Moonalice: Band". www.moonalice.com. Retrieved 2024-01-31.
  15. ^ Berndtson, Chad. "The Art Of The Sit-In - Jason Crosby". JamBase. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  16. ^ Schneider, Marc (2015-07-27). "Doobie Brothers Sue Venture Capitalist's '70s Cover Band The Doobie Decibel System". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  17. ^ "The Mystery of the Family Dog, Denver's Most Storied Rock Venue". Westword.
  18. ^ "'The Tale of the Dog' explores the legacy of a short-lived club that turned Denver into a musical destination". Colorado Public Radio.
  19. ^ Lipman, Joanne, "Is Music the Key to Success?" (Opinion), New York Times, October 12, 2013, p. 2. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  20. ^ Moonalice. "It's 4:20 Somewhere". Moonalice.com.
  21. ^ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces Acquisition of Digital Logs of Moonalice's "It's 4:20 Somewhere" for Library and Archives". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  22. ^ Tuck School of Business. "The Long, Strange—and Profoundly Prescient—Trip of Roger McNamee". Retrieved 3 November 2015. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  23. ^ Cohen, Noam (17 March 2008). "Open-Source Troubles in Wiki World". The New York Times.
  24. ^ "Why would someone toss $1.35m at Wikipedia?". The Register.
  25. ^ "Press releases/Roger McNamee to Become Wikimedia Advisor January 2009 - Wikimedia Foundation". wikimediafoundation.org. 31 May 2018.
  26. ^ Roger McNamee, Roger McNamee (January 2018). "How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us". Washington Monthly. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  27. ^ "New Haight center celebrates poster art". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
  28. ^ "I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  29. ^ McNamee, Roger (2017-11-11). "How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy | Roger McNamee". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  30. ^ Balakrishnan, Anita (2017-10-11). "I warned Facebook about meddling before the election, early investor McNamee says". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  31. ^ "How Dangerous Is Misinformation On Facebook?". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  32. ^ "The Problem". Time Well Spent. Archived from the original on 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2018-01-19.
  33. ^ Tunney, Catharine and Peter Zimonjic (28 May 2019). "'Call their bluff': Shut down social media platforms, ex-Facebook adviser urges". CBC News. Retrieved 28 May 2019.
  34. ^ "While Facebook works to create an oversight board, industry experts formed their own". NBC News. 25 September 2020.
  35. ^ "Zucked by Roger McNamee | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books". Archived from the original on 2019-01-18.
  36. ^ "Hard Cover Nonfiction Best Sellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  37. ^ "KRCR-TV". Archived from the original on 2013-12-27. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  38. ^ Greene, Rich (17 July 2014). "Tembo Preserve representatives give education presentation to local youth". redbluffdailynews. Retrieved 17 November 2014.
  39. ^ Daily News Business. "Tehama County supes hear plan for elephant reserve". Archived from the original on 27 December 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2013. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  40. ^ "Tembo Preserve". Archived from the original on 2017-05-28. Retrieved 2017-05-22.

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