In the mid-1990s, Fred Hoar, Hans Severiens and 10 other Silicon Valley executives joined together to form a private investment club. Hoar, in his typical fashion of combining humor and history, called the group “The 12 Apostles.” They came to be known as the Band of Angels, and in a sense they were like apostles as they spread their seed money and counsel for entrepreneurs looking to get their ideas up and running. After nearly 10 years, the Band of Angels has invested $110 million in 140 startups – such as NanoMuscle Inc., the Internet company Clarus Systems and Genitope Inc., which went public last year. The Band of Angels, which now consists of 110 members, lost two of its original co-founders this year.
Johannes C. “Hans” Severiens
1929 – 2004
Hans Severiens, a one-time nuclear physicist, stock analyst, investment banker and venture capitalist, was known for taking the time to listen. Friends say that as an angel investor, Severiens was patient and sensitive when talking to entrepreneurs.
Although he co-founded the Silicon Valley Band of Angels, Severiens never called himself president, or managing director or chairman He simply referred to himself as coordinator. He helped to coordinate monthly meetings of the Band of Angels, in which entrepreneurs would pitch their ideas to investors. Severiens personally invested in about 30 of the 140 companies the Band of Angels funded, but was considered to be a friend and an advisor to all of them.
“Hans was a gentleman and a gentle man. That’s what made him stand out in the venture business in Silicon Valley,” says Ian Sobieski, a Band of Angels partner.
Severiens died Feb. 3 in Sonoma, Calif., after battling lung cancer for more than a year. He was 74.
Johannes C. “Hans” Severiens was born Oct. 25, 1929, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and moved to Indonesia at the age of 5. When he was 12, his family fled WWII and eventually settled in Chatham, N.J.
With a Ph.D. in nuclear physics, Severiens worked for a time as a scientist at Perkin-Elmer, Columbia University, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Niels Bohr Institute. Later, Severiens was an investment banker with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Merrill Lynch and Paine Webber. Then he made the switch to venture capital and has been making and managing investments in closely held technology companies since 1980. He was a partner/officer in two venture capital funds: Bay Ventures, a seed stage investor, and MIP Equity Fund, a later stage investment firm funded by the Dutch government.
For the last 10 years, Severiens has been known as an angel investor and most recently was on the board of Fidelica Microsystems.
He also enjoyed other passions, such as hiking the trails of Mount Tamalpais, Yosemite, and the Sierras; dining on fine wine and food with friends; and playing classical piano. He is survived by his former wife, Elizabeth Severiens; a brother, Jacobus T. Severiens; daughters Annette Himes, Clara Barrett and Liesbeth Parke; dear friend Lynn Hastings; and 10 grandchildren.
Frederick M. Hoar
1926 – 2004
Everyone who knew or even briefly met Fred Hoar agrees on one thing – he had a great sense of humor. And no matter how many different venues he spoke at or emceed each year, his signature opening line always garnered a generous laugh: “Hi, my name is Fred Hoar, and that’s spelled F-R-E-D.” Hoar was quick to point out that he had the perfect name for a PR guy. Not willing to let a good joke slip away, he, once said while eating lunch at the Lion & Compass restaurant in Sunnyvale: “If you think having that last name has been a pain for me, just ask one of my daughters what she thinks of it.”
Hoar died Jan. 2 after a three-year bout with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He was 77.
Hoar was an influential PR and marketing executive, working for such companies as Fairchild, Genentech, Raychem, RCA and Apple Computer. He was present at some of the seminal events in Silicon Valley, including Apple’s launch of the Mac in 1984.
But Hoar – who planned to have a career in journalism and worked for a time as a stringer for the Associated Press – was also well-known as an angel investor. He co-founded the Silicon Valley Band of Angels in 1995. And over the years, he served as a director and an advisor for dozens of startups, most recently with Store Sight Systems Inc. and NetProspect.
“Fred was a true renaissance man – gifted writer and speaker, talented entrepreneur, brilliant strategist, wonderful family man and bon vivant,” says Heidi Roizen, managing director of Mobius Venture Capital. “Fred could keep a roomful of people laughing and learning like no one else. He always had a new story to tell and an upbeat word to say. The loss of his presence will be felt by so many he has touched.”
Most recently, Hoar was a professor of marketing at Santa Clara University, where he taught marketing and branding. He was also working on two books about Silicon Valley. They will reportedly be combined into one, tentatively titled, Shooting Dice.
Hoar is survived by his wife, Sheila, and daughters Cheryl, Deborah, Donna and Jocelyn.