James A. Swanson

878 Hoffman Terrace, Los Altos CA 94024

Office: 650-941-4500   Fax: 650-941-2104

email: jswanson@alum.mit.edu


SUMMARY:  Senior executive with 25 years of extensive business experience.  Excellent leadership, problem-solving, team-building and communication skills.  Co-founder of virtual incubator for Internet-related companies.  Co-founder, CEO and CFO of software company.  When elected CEO of publicly traded high-tech company, successfully turned the company around.  Also has excellent sales and partnering experience and a broad business law background.  Graduate of M.I.T. and Stanford University.


Principal Current Activity


Co-Author, along with Mike Baird, of  Engineering Your Start-Up, a Guide For the High-Tech Entrepreneur” (all new edition).  This book will be published in early 2003.


Professional Experience


Los Altos Incubator  http://firstonline.com/                          Los Altos, CA                                      1998-present


Co-Founder and Principal.  Jim Swanson and Mike Baird co-founded this virtual incubator in order to assist promising Internet-related start-ups, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area.  They help entrepreneurs formulate and implement viable business strategies.  They act as strategic advisors and coaches, serve as board members when appropriate, and make introductions to potential investors, partners, customers, and professional service providers.  In some cases they provide limited seed funding.  They typically work with one or two clients at a time in order to adequately focus on promising "home run” candidates.


Consulting                                          Los Altos, CA                          1997-1999


Consulting work and some community service.  Consulting work was a mix of legal and business work, mostly for Adecco, the world's largest staffing company with offices around the world.


Los Altos Technologies, Inc.             Cupertino, CA                                      1993-1996


Co-founder, President, CEO and CFO of software company that develops and markets computer security software solutions for UNIX systems.


·        Worked with co-founders to develop business plan, and successfully raised private financing (both seed and first round) for this start-up company. 


·        Transitioned the company to professional status and built management team.


·        With focus on quality and productivity, implemented excellent business systems and productivity tools for software development.


·        Personally managed sales and marketing activities for several months, spending 90% of time on direct sales activities.  Revenues increased 40% from 1994 to 1995, and revenues per employee more than doubled.  Focused the company on its most successful product, disk declassification software.


Ramtek Corporation                          San Jose, CA                                       1982-1992


President and CEO, 1988-1992, of publicly traded (OTC) graphics and image processing company (with markets in remote sensing, reconnaissance and surveillance, defense command and control, weather imaging, process control, and air traffic control).  Quickly formulated and implemented survival plan and successfully turned around the company.  Major accomplishments include the following:


·        Upon election as CEO, immediately revitalized management team to solve problems of a declining and very unprofitable business, large negative cash flow, litigious creditors, threatening banks, severely eroded customer confidence, regulatory problems, and a dispirited workforce.  Personally handled all critical communications and negotiations, which provided time for management team to successfully implement the turnaround strategy.


·        Consulted with key Board members and other professionals to determine best strategy.  Concluded that Chapter 11 filing was appropriate course of action, and led the company successfully through Chapter 11 without external financing.


·        Within four quarters after election as CEO, restored to profitability a company that had lost a total of $50 million during the preceding five years.  Paid off all bank debt and established a new banking relationship.


·        Utilizing new productivity tools and numerous process changes, dramatically boosted productivity and product quality.  Annual revenues per employee doubled within three quarters.


·        Restructured and improved all operations of the company, increasing gross profit margin from 25% to over 50% in six quarters.  Improved forecasting and implemented a build-to-order policy, which resulted in a 50% reduction in inventory and a doubling of order backlog.


·        Implemented new product development strategy, with result that 70% of the company’s product sales were from products developed or completed since appointment at CEO. 


·        Involved all employees in discussion groups, problem-solving, and various employee recognition programs.  These actions kept employees informed and focused on goals of the company.  Turnover decreased and morale soared.


Vice President and General Counsel.  1982-1988.  Elected Vice President in 1983. Responsible for all legal affairs of the company.


·        Reduced outside legal expenses by 70%. Successfully implemented preventive law programs to reduce litigation risk and improve the company’s position in commercial transactions.


·        Favorably settled two pre-existing major lawsuits that were a drain on company resources.  Eliminated onerous restrictions on the company’s core technology by successfully renegotiating pre-existing technology licenses. 


·        Personally and successfully handled complex, multi-party commercial transactions.  As a result, the company obtained badly needed financing, was relieved of $20 million in bank and other obligations, and was better able to pursue its core business.


Syntex Corporation                            Palo Alto, CA                                      1979-1982

Business Attorney in Law Department of Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company.


·        Handled wide variety of business matters as counsel for several business units, including principal sales and marketing organization.  Responsibilities included contracts, commercial transactions, pricing, distribution, real estate, international and personnel.


Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May        Oakland, CA                                        1974-1979

Associate Attorney in business section of large law firm.


·        Handled wide variety of business matters for large and small clients.  Areas of work included mergers and reorganizations, contracts, commercial transactions, corporate law, partnerships, banking, bankruptcy, taxation, and litigation advice.


United States Peace Corps                Beni-Mellal, Morocco                          1968-1970. 

Irrigation Engineer.


·        Surveyed sites for irrigation canals.  Drafted plans and designed the canals.  Supervised construction of these high-quality masonry canals, which involved from 25 to 150 workers, depending on the particular project.  Taught English in the evening.




Stanford University, M.B.A./J.D., 1974


Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Civil Engineering, S.B., 1967