Tim Draper

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Tim Draper
Tim Draper in November 2017.jpg
Tim Draper in November 2017
Timothy Cook Draper

(1958-06-11) June 11, 1958 (age 61)
EducationStanford University (BA)
Harvard University (MBA)
OccupationFounder and managing director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ), Draper Associates
Spouse(s)Melissa Parker[1]
Children4, including Jesse
RelativesWilliam Henry Draper III (father)
Polly Draper (sister)
Nat Wolff (nephew)
Alex Wolff (nephew)
WebsiteOfficial website

Timothy Cook Draper (born June 11, 1958) is an American venture capital investor, and in 1985, the founder of the firm that would become Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ).[2] He also founded Draper Associates and Draper University. In July 2014, Draper received wide coverage[3] for his purchase at a US Marshals Service auction of seized bitcoins from the Silk Road marketplace website. He also spent in excess of $5 million to push a ballot initiative to divide California into three smaller states, which has met the signature threshold but was removed from the ballot by a decision in the Supreme Court of California.

Background and early life[edit]

Draper is the third in a familial line of venture capitalists. He is the son of Phyllis (Culbertson) and William Henry Draper III and the younger brother of actress Polly Draper. His father is the founder of Draper & Johnson Investment Company and former chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. His grandfather, William Henry Draper Jr., founded Draper, Gaither and Anderson in 1958.[2]

Draper attended Phillips Academy Andover before matriculating to Stanford University, where he graduated with a BS in electrical engineering in 1980. [4] He later earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1984.[2]

Financial career[edit]

In 1985, Draper left the bank Alex, Brown & Sons to start his own venture capital firm; former colleague John H.N. Fisher became a partner in 1991, and business student Steve Jurvetson became the third partner in the firm.[5]

In 2013 he announced his departure from Draper Fisher Jurvetson.[6]

Hotmail and viral marketing[edit]

Although the history of the term is not fully clear, it is commonly argued that Draper and Jurvetson "invented viral marketing" in 1996, due to their idea of automatically attaching a brief advertising message to the bottom of outgoing Hotmail emails,[7] though the neologism itself is documented as early as a 1989 edition of PC User.[8]


Draper's father, Bill Draper, was an earlier investor in Skype, and DFJ backed Skype in 2004.[9][10] The company owned 10% of Skype in 2005 when it was sold to eBay for US$4.1 billion.[11]

Bitcoin auction[edit]

On June 27, 2014, Draper purchased, for an undisclosed price, nearly 30,000 bitcoins which had been seized by the US Marshals service and auctioned to the public.[12] The accumulation of bitcoins was estimated to be worth US$19 million at the time.[13][14]

On Sep. 23, 2014, Draper told Fox Business that he predicted that one bitcoin would reach $10,000 "in three years";[15] on January 27, 2015, Draper wagered about $400,000 (which is 2000 bitcoins with $200 price) that the bitcoin will rebound from a recent plunge.[16] The price of a bitcoin crossed the $10,000 mark on November 29, 2017.[17]


Draper was one of the first investors in the blood testing start up Theranos, whose founder Elizabeth Holmes was later charged by the SEC with committing massive fraud.[18][19] After a Wall Street Journal investigation into Theranos, Draper accused WSJ reporter John Carreyrou of having a vendetta, and claimed that the investigation of Theranos was an elaborate conspiracy.[20] In a 2016 interview with Rebecca Jarvis, Draper claimed that he saw "50 tests being run on 2 drops of blood" using Theranos technology and "it worked beautifully".[21] In 2018, after the SEC had already charged Holmes with "elaborate, years-long fraud", Draper continued to defend her, calling her a "great icon" who had been "bullied into submission" despite having done a "great job".[22]


Draper has spoken out against Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, stating that they limit the viability of taking companies public.[23]

In 2000, Draper spent $20 million on a failed measure to support school vouchers.[24]

Split California Proposal[edit]

In early 2014, Draper filed a petition which was accepted by California's Secretary of State Debra Bowen to begin collecting signatures to divide California into six smaller states, arguing that California is "increasingly ungovernable" as one state.[25] However, on September 12, 2014, it was announced the plan fell short of the required amount of valid signatures to land it on the 2016 ballot, partly due to fraud by a signature-collection coordinator who submitted a claimed 70,000 signatures that did not exist.[26] Draper spent in excess of $5 million to try to qualify the proposition for the ballot, with nearly $450,000 for political consultants.[27]

In April 2018 Draper announced collection of "about 600,000" signatures for a new petition to divide California, this time into three new states.[28] In June 2018, the petition collected a sufficient number of signatures to qualify as an initiative in the 2018 general election.[29][30] On July 18, 2018, the California Supreme Court blocked the measure from appearing on the November 2018 ballot.

Educational program[edit]

In 2013, Draper launched Draper University of Heroes, an educational program that offers a crash course in entrepreneurship. The university's residential program is based in San Mateo, California, and the curricula are designed by Draper.[31]


  • How to be The Startup Hero: A Guide and Textbook for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Entrepreneurs, 2017


  1. ^ "Melissa Lee Parker Becomes the Bride Of Timothy Cook Draper in California". August 15, 1982. Retrieved September 11, 2017 – via www.nytimes.com.
  2. ^ a b c Entrepreneurs page, Harvard Business School website, accessed April 16, 2014'.
  3. ^ Ember, Sydney. "Venture Capitalist Tim Draper Wins Small Piece of Bitcoin Auction". The New York Times.
  4. ^ Melissa Lee Parker Becomes the Bride Of Timothy Cook Draper in California, New York Times, August 15, 1982.
  5. ^ Deborah Perry Piscione (April 2, 2013). Secrets of Silicon Valley: What Everyone Else Can Learn from the Innovation Capital of the World. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 129–. ISBN 978-1-137-32421-4.
  6. ^ "Exclusive: Tim Draper is leaving DFJ". Fortune. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  7. ^ Helen Powell; Jonathan Hardy; Sarah Hawkin; Iain MacRury (September 13, 2013). Advertising Handbook. Routledge. pp. 119–. ISBN 978-1-134-71892-4.
  8. ^ Justin Kirby; Paul Marsden (June 7, 2007). Connected Marketing. Routledge. pp. 89–. ISBN 978-1-136-41564-7.
  9. ^ "Skype Closes 'B' Round Funding from Top Venture Capitalists" (Press release). PR Newswire. March 15, 2004. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  10. ^ Bruce J. Schulman (2014). Making the American Century: Essays on the Political Culture of Twentieth Century America. Oxford University Press. pp. 166–. ISBN 978-0-19-984541-5.
  11. ^ Ori Brafman; Rod A. Beckstrom (2006). The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations. Penguin. pp. 176–. ISBN 978-1-59184-143-2.
  12. ^ Ember, Sydney (July 2, 2014). "Venture Capitalist Tim Draper Wins Bitcoin Auction". New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  13. ^ Harrison Weber (July 2, 2014). "Someone just bought $19M in bitcoins seized by the U.S. government (updated)". VentureBeat.
  14. ^ McMillan, Robert (July 1, 2014). "Someone Just Bought $19M in Silk Road Bitcoins From the Feds". Wired. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "Venture capitalist Tim Draper predicts $10K per Bitcoin by 2018". TheKapers83. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  16. ^ Olga Kharif (January 27, 2015). "Venture Capitalist Draper Bets $400,000 More on Bitcoin Revival". Bloomberg.
  17. ^ Huang, Zheping (November 28, 2017). "Bitcoin just hit $10,000 for the first time". qz.com. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  18. ^ Tindera, Michela. "Elizabeth Holmes And Theranos Charged With 'Massive Fraud' By SEC". Forbes. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  19. ^ Stross, Randall (April 27, 2016). "Opinion | Don't Blame Silicon Valley for Theranos". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  20. ^ "Theranos' downfall due to elaborate $4M conspiracy, investor says". Ars Technica. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  21. ^ Jarvis, Rebecca (March 15, 2018). "Wow - watch this video. I stumbled on it today- my interview from August 2016 with Theranos' first investor, Tim Draper who was so certain about the technology back then. Now Holmes and her top associate have been charged by the SEC with "massive fraud" #tbtpic.twitter.com/vO8o7z1cPZ". @RebeccaJarvis. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  22. ^ Marinova, Polina (May 11, 2018). "Why VC Tim Draper Keeps Defending Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes". Fortune. Retrieved June 18, 2018.
  23. ^ David Lawsky and Anupreeta Das (May 22, 2009). "Draper helps take companies "prublic"". Reuters.
  24. ^ Carla Marinucci. July 15, 2014.Six Californias measure heading for 2016 ballot, backers say. SFGate. Retrieved: July 15, 2014.
  25. ^ Kayle Fields, Petition to Split California Into Six States Gets Green Light, ABC News, February 19, 2014.
  26. ^ Chris Megerian (September 12, 2014). "'Six Californias' plan falls short of making November 2016 ballot". Los Angeles Times.
  27. ^ Cadelago, Christopher (April 29, 2015). "'Risk master' Tim Draper soliciting ideas for next ballot proposal". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved April 30, 2015.
  28. ^ Schubarth, Cromwell (April 13, 2018). "Tim Draper says he has signatures needed for third try to break up California". Silicon Valley Business Journal. Retrieved October 4, 2018.
  29. ^ "Eligible Statewide Initiative Measures - California Secretary of State". California Secretary of State. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  30. ^ "This is really happening: Measure to split California into three states qualifies for November ballot". The Mercury News. June 13, 2018. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  31. ^ Kinney, Aaron (April 17, 2013). "San Mateo: Draper University welcomes first class of entrepreneurial 'superheroes'". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved July 2, 2014.