University Relations

Dean's Medalist returns
after making strides in high-tech

Photo of Eric McAfee.

Becoming a successful entrepreneur is not easy, but Fresno State graduate Eric McAfee learned how to start and develop companies in the high-tech sector.


By April Schulthies

Craig School of Business graduate and 1986 Dean's Medalist Eric McAfee shared his entrepreneurial insights during his five-day visit on campus October 8 - 12 as the Institute for Developing Entrepreneurial Action's fourth Entrepreneur in Residence. At the age of 38, McAfee is a co-founder of Cagan McAfee Capital Partners and owns a Silicon Valley venture capital firm with holdings in more than 25 high-tech companies.

Established in 1998, the Entrepreneur in Residence Program provides students, faculty, and the Valley community with opportunities to learn from one another. Candidates are invited to be the Entrepreneur in Residence based on their inspiring entrepreneurial achievements and strong commitment to entrepreneurial efforts. The program is hosted by the Institute for Developing Entrepreneurial Action at the Craig School of Business and funded by the Coleman Foundation.

During his stay, McAfee spoke with high school students attending the kick-off workshop of the Central Valley Entrepreneurial Leadership Program held on campus. He also made a presentation at a luncheon sponsored by the Collegiate Entrepreneur's Club at the University Student Union. McAfee spent the week visiting classes, making presentations to Fresno State faculty and staff, talking with tenants of the Central Valley Business Incubator, and meeting with leaders in the community.

Even at a young age, McAfee showed signs of becoming an entrepreneur. His mother, Darlene McAfee Blackwood of Fresno, noted that at age nine McAfee had big dreams.

To make his dreams come true, McAfee came to Fresno State. While here, McAfee said he earned a solid academic foundation and had opportunities to participate in student government.

After graduation he co-founded PC-card manufacturer New Media Corporation in 1992, little did he know that within three years it would have $48 million in sales and 150 employees. The company shipped more than 20,000 units per month to customers such as AST Research, AT&T Wireless and Toshiba.

McAfee said that one of his most rewarding experiences as an entrepreneur was his satisfaction in building a management team. "You are building their [employees'] skills and providing them opportunities that otherwise they might never have had," he said.

McAfee went on to co-found Global Digital Technologies, a software company that specializes in providing newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News with interfaces between Web sites and their databases. Gannett, Knight-Ridder and the Tribune are some of the company's biggest customers.

Soon McAfee was moving further into the high-tech world. He funded All Star Telecom, a leading fiber optics networking engineering company, which quickly grew to sales of more than $50 million. Next he co-founded NetStream, one of the first companies to use digital switches for Internet Protocol-based local telephone service, eventually raising $57 million in financing from Cisco Systems and others. In 1999, he started MindArrow Systems, an e-marketing systems company, and raised $31 million of funding. Customers of MindArrow Systems include 120 major corporations such as Intel, Hewlett Packard, GM, Fox television, as well as singer Britney Spears and President George W. Bush.

McAfee is a member of President George W. Bush's Information Technology National Advisory Board. He also has served for eight years on the board of directors of the California Manufacturers and Technology Association.


Back to University Journal, 11/12/01 Issue


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