Longtime venture capitalist Donald William “Don” Feddersen passed away in late February at the age of 70, after a battle with leukemia.
In the early 1980s, Feddersen joined Boston-based Charles River Ventures as a general partner. He focused on early stage, software investments backing such companies as Parametric Technology and Sybase Inc.
He “semi-retired” in 1997 and became a venture partner and private investor at Bessemer Venture Partners in Wellesley, Mass.
During his venture capital career, Feddersen served on the boards of numerous startups and was a mentor to many young executives. Feddersen served on the boards of Sybase, Parametric, Versata Inc. and Alventive Inc., among others.
Feddersen grew up in Homewood, Ill., and graduated from Purdue University in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. After serving in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot and research and development officer, Feddersen joined the computer and software fields.
He joined GATX in Chicago as a sales engineer and manager of new product development in 1960. While working at GATX, he earned an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1969.
His early career involved developing data processing systems in the fledgling information technology industry. He helped pioneer the development of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing tools.
He spent the 1970s running such companies as Entrex Inc. and Applicon Inc. Feddersen and his team helped grow Applicon, a developer of CAD/CAM systems, from a private startup to a public company with $70 million in annual sales before Schlumberger bought it out in 1981 for $220 million. He continued to run Applicon as a division of Schlumberger until 1984, when he joined Charles River Ventures.
Among his accomplishments, Feddersen holds a patent for the Boeing 707 Cargotainer.
He is survived by his wife of 10 years, Catherine; daughter Kimberly; sons John, Brett and Daniel; sister Ruth Sievers; twin sister Dorothy Liveley; brother David; and nine grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Bone Marrow Transplant Research, c/o Dr. Robert Soiffer, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115.