From VC to EDC: Venture Investor Dave Titus Joins San Diego’s Economic Development Corp.
Dave Titus, a co-founder and managing partner of San Diego VC firm Windward Ventures, notified his friends and colleagues in an e-mail blast yesterday that he’s joining the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. (EDC) as managing director of strategic initiatives.
As it turns out, Titus has had some time on his hands. When we talked by phone yesterday afternoon, he conceded that managing Windward Ventures is no longer a full-time occupation. “Over 13 years, we invested in 24 companies, of which six remain in the portfolio,” Titus says. Semiconductor industry veteran James A. Cole and Titus founded Windward Ventures in 1997, and the firm raised its last venture fund in 2000. Titus told me in October that Windward made its last investment from that fund in 2007, and has been unable to raise additional funds since then.
Titus also voiced a strong desire to help San Diego’s business community across a variety of industries, and says joining the EDC, “doesn’t feel to me like a big career change. It’s working with CEOs. It’s working with companies. It’s solving problems.”
The EDC is a nonprofit organization funded by local business and governments that works to support local business and commerce, provides assistance to companies interested in moving to San Diego, and seeks to improve education, transportation, water, and other resource and infrastructure issues of concern to San Diego companies. In a statement released by the EDC, Titus says he’s been working with the EDC for the past year on a variety of issues, and his new role will enable him to help build “a vibrant business culture in San Diego focused on science and technology.”
Titus was named in October as chairman of a task force to find new sources of capital for the San Diego region, which has emerged as a key concern among the technology and life sciences startups that comprise San Diego’s “innovation economy.” During our conversation, though, Titus said the task force was formed to focus on identifying capital of all kinds—and not just VC funding. Titus was an investor, board member, or both, at several San Diego tech companies, including Primary Access, Medication Delivery Devices, Sitematic, Mohomine, and Network Harmoni. He currently sits on the board of four private companies in San Diego, including Nirvanix and Xifin.
As the EDC’s managing director of strategic initiatives, Titus says, “I have a pretty broad charter. I’m able to sit down with CEOs around San Diego and ask them what do they need to grow their companies, and to expand here. And I can channel those needs to the EDC’s business development group and their policy group.”
In talking with Titus, I wondered if there are deeper concerns among San Diego’s business leaders about the regional economy. But he assures me that, “overall, we have a healthy innovation economy, given what’s going on.” On the other hand, he says, “The world economy has everybody on orange alert these days.”
Titus began his career in venture capital in 1986, when he joined Technology Funding, a Bay Area venture firm with $200 million under management. He was managing director of corporate finance in 1991, when he moved to San Diego. Before that, Titus was a founder and senior vice president of Silicon Valley Bank, which now ranks among the foremost lenders in California that serve emerging growth companies.