Year in Review: In Memoriam

Craig Johnson, Virtual Law Partners

Craig Winfield Johnson

, who played a role in the formation of Silicon Valley’s tech, legal and VC communities, died Oct. 3 from a stroke he suffered in late September. He was 62 years old.

Johnson, who most recently co-founded Virtual Law Partners in 2008, had recently returned from a European honeymoon. On Aug. 15, he married RoseAnn Rotandaro, one of the co-founders of Virtual Law Partners, in Portola Valley, Calif. The two spent their honeymoon sailing the Mediterranean and cycling in the Slovenian Alps.

In a prepared statement, the law firm said that Johnson’s accomplishments exceeded that of his legal work: “He was selfless in his work, and universally regarded as fair, honest, brilliant and caring. He inspired the best in all around him and helped them to believe in themselves as much as he believed in them.”

Johnson was a graduate of Yale University and a former Peace Corps volunteer who served in Ethiopia. After he graduated from Stanford University law school in 1974, he became the 14th attorney to join the law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, advising startups just as Silicon Valley was set for a tech boom.

In the course of his career, Johnson founded two law firms. In 1993, he left Wilson Sonsini to launch Venture Law Group, which represented Yahoo, Hotmail, WebTV and other notable tech startups. During that time, Johnson also co-founded the incubator Garage, the online retirement planner Financial Engines and numerous other tech-related startups.

August Capital Partner David Hornik, a former intellectual property and corporate attorney at Venture Law Group, says that Johnson couldn’t help but be innovative. “Craig was an incredible builder and connector,” Hornik says. “He launched Venture Law Group in a time when others were complacent to practice law as it had always been practiced before.”

Johnson merged Venture Law Group with Heller Ehrman in the wake of the dot-com bust.

He stayed on board at Heller Ehrman, but last year, Johnson co-founded Virtual Law Partners, a Web-based law firm that cuts down on overhead by allowing attorneys to share documents and back-office processes and keep 85% of what they bill, compared to the 33% kept by associates at conventional law firms.

“Craig was an original in every respect,” says Stewart Alsop, a partner at the VC firm Alsop Louie Partners. “He was an original thinker. He was an outstanding attorney. He was a businessman. He was a total gentleman. It’s people like Craig that made being part of Silicon Valley so unique and engaging.”

Memorial services for Johnson were held Oct. 11 at Stanford. Prior to the services, friends held a memorial bike ride around the university campus, Palo Alto and Menlo Park, passing Wilson Sonsini and other places where Johnson lived and worked.

Johnson is survived by his wife RoseAnn, sons Matt and Scott from a previous marriage, his brother Brian, and his father Roger. —Deborah Gage and Alastair Goldfisher

Luis Villalobos, Tech Coast Angels

In early October, soon after Luis Villalobos, co-founder of Tech Coast Angels, passed away at the age of 70, Frank Peters, chairman emeritus of the angel investment group, gave a tribute on his podcast, “The Frank Peters Show.”

Peters said Villalobos would be remembered as “a mentor and a coach.”

Villalobos had been undergoing treatment for a lung infection in a Southern California hospital when he died Oct. 1.

Villalobos is often credited for propagating the area’s angel investment community, having launched Tech Coast Angels in 1997 and serving as its first president. The organization now boasts five chapters from Santa Barbara to San Diego and boasts more than 250 members.

Villalobos held 12 U.S. and international patents as an inventor and was presented with the Hans Severiens Award at the Angel Capital Association’s Annual Summit in Chicago in 2007. The award is named after Hans Severiens, the late co-founder of the Band of Angels, an angel investment organization in Northern California that Villalobos modeled Tech Coast Angels after.

On Peters’ website, where colleagues and friends posted memories of Villalobos, Ian Sobieski, managing director of the Band of Angels, wrote that Villalobos “is irreplaceable and a huge contributor to angels and entrepreneurs alike. He and Severiens were kinsmen in caring seriously about the avocation of their later lives.”

During his time as an investor, Villalobos, a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School, backed 57 early stage companies, including several that launched IPOs, such as Gadzoox Networks and PetSmart. He also mentored at least a dozen company CEOs and served on the boards of more than a dozen companies, such as Big Stage, YouMail, Vigilistics, EmailDirect and others. In addition, he served on the board of the Angel Capital Association, a nationwide organization for angel groups to share best practices that he co-founded.

“Luis gave tirelessly of his time and knowledge to entrepreneurs and fellow investors, showing his deep commitment to encouraging and supporting the growth of angel groups and startup ventures,” says Richard Sudek, president of Tech Coast Angels. “He’ll be sorely missed by us all and our thoughts are with his family.”

Sudek says that in 2001 Villalobos created the Fast Pitch concept in which entrepreneurs pitch their companies in 60 seconds. That the event now annually attracts more than 300 attendees and is the organization’s most recognizable event in the community, according to Sudek.

Villalobos is survived by his wife Ora-Zoe Villalobos and a sister. —Alastair Goldfisher

Dick McGlinchey, BluePoint Venture Marketing

Richard “Dick” McGlinchey

, a marketing professional who specialized in working with venture firms and their startups, died of a heart attack at his home in Lexington, Mass., in early December. He was 60.

In addition to recent heart disease, McGlinchey had been battling a progressive neurological disease, called Multiple System Atrophy, for the past four years.

McGlinchey worked with many of Boston’s top technology companies and founded three Boston-area marketing and public relations firms, including BluePoint Venture Marketing.

From 1999 to 2004, McGlinchey was a venture partner at Battery Ventures, where he directed marketing and strategic initiatives for the firm’s portfolio. Most recently, he served as business advisor and board member of Isis Biopolymer, a medical device company developing a non-invasive drug delivery system.

Alison Moore, co-founder and managing director of BluePoint, wrote on the firm’s website that McGlinchey was “well-known in Boston-area technology circles for his dry wit and his penchant for auto racing and ice hockey. As his children grew, his free time centered on them—coaching youth hockey and serving on the board of the Boston Youth Symphony. All who knew Dick knew his love for Prince Edward Island, where he shared a second home with his beloved family and two pet Corgis.”

At the time of his death, McGlinchey was retired from BluePoint, although Moore wrote that his “guidance and friendship have stayed with the BluePoint team.”

Tim Hurley, managing director of BluePoint, called McGlinchey a trailblazer and an “old school” marketer.

“These terms are sometimes considered clichés, particularly in the marketing and PR world, but not with Dick,” Hurley wrote on the firm’s memorial page. “He was the real deal; he was never afraid to ‘call ‘em like he saw ‘em,’ and that is what many of us will fondly remember.”

McGlinchey is survived by his wife of 26 years, Sara, daughter Elizabeth, and son Andrew.

A service was held in December at one of his favorite locations, Prince Edward Island. A memorial service in Boston is being planned for the spring. The family asks that donations may be made to the National Ataxia Foundation (www.ataxia.org), the Northeast Animal Shelter (northeastanimalshelter.org), or the Friends of Brackley and Covehead Bays (stanhopecovehead.pe.ca/friends). —Alastair Goldfisher