San Diego Venture Group Hires VC David Titus in New Role to Raise the Tide of Capital, Innovation

4/6/11Follow @bvbigelow

After spending the past two years studying the ebb of innovation capital in San Diego, David Titus hopes to now do something about it—by stepping into a new role as the first full-time president of the San Diego Venture Group, a local non-profit networking group. Until now, the SDVG has operated mostly as the host of monthly breakfast events that feature talks by prominent VCs, strategic advisers, and other innovation leaders.

Titus, who was an active San Diego VC investor until 2007, tells me he already has moved into the new job—which was created “as an addition and not a replacement” to the venture group’s longtime executive director. “The board made a decision late last year that they wanted to take the group to a new level of engagement with the entrepreneurial community,” Titus says.

“How the mission plays out remains to be seen,” Titus says. He expects to initially support San Diego’s entrepreneurs and venture community in a couple of ways: Helping local VC firms attract new capital to this region, and making it easier for out-of-town venture firms to invest in San Diego’s early stage technology and life sciences companies.

Titus says he does not expect to get involved with the venture group’s existing programs, which often draw more than 300 attendees. Those will remain under the purview of the venture group’s voluntary, 20-member board of directors and executive director Rachel Barley.

David Titus

It’s also unclear just how permanent the president’s job will prove to be. Titus suggested as much when he declined to discuss his salary, except to say he’s working “at the low-market rate.” When I asked how the group planned to fund the position, Titus said, “The venture group has built some reserve funds over the years that will go to support the expanded mission.”

In any case, Titus tells me he’s “really excited” about the prospects for helping San Diego’s innovation community. He describes the venture group as “a great group of people” and an opportunity to implement ideas he’s been noodling for years. “I wrote a white paper three years ago about what we could be doing to make San Diego a better place for venture capital,” Titus says. So while the incoming president’s mission might not be fully defined, Titus is nevertheless already prepared to focus specifically on ways to raise the tide of local venture capital and to determine what the scope of the SDVG president should be.

He spent the past 15 months as managing director of strategic initiatives at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. The EDC, as it is known, has been in a transitional reorganization since January, when longtime CEO Julie Meier Wright announced her retirement. Titus tells me he helped the EDC hire two new vice presidents for development; he plans to keep an office at the EDC and serve in an advisory role until a new CEO can be hired.

Before joining the EDC, Titus headed a local business task force that was formed in 2009 to develop recommendations for boosting San Diego’s local innovation economy in general—and venture capital in particular. “We went through a process, identified a number of recommended actions, and the recommendations went to Connect,” Titus says, referring to the San Diego non-profit group for technology and entrepreneurism.

Titus co-founded San Diego-based Windward Ventures in 1997, and continues to manage a handful of investments that remain from the firm’s portfolio of 24 tech companies. Windward raised its last venture fund in 2000, and made its last investment in 2007.

Titus says he will report directly to the San Diego Venture Group’s board.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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