Director of operations
William F. Bice Mr. Bice is a serial Southwest entrepreneur and founding partner of Verge Fund. He started his first business as a freshman in High School, organizing road races like the Duke City Marathon. Bill founded ProLaw Software during the PC revolution while they were still teaching COBOL at the university (from which he subsequently dropped out). Under Bill's leadership as President and CEO, ProLaw achieved an average compound annual growth rate of 78% during the last 5 years as an independent company. ProLaw appeared on the Inc. 500 ranking of the fastest growing companies in the country three years in a row. In 2001, Bill and his team sold ProLaw to West Group, the foremost provider of integrated information solutions to the legal market and a division of what is now Thomson Reuters.
During his tenure at West, Bill served on the executive committee in the role of President, ProLaw Software and Vice President, Practice Solutions, during which time he completed the Thomson School of General Management. Bill created the West km business unit, which combines ProLaw technology with West content to create legal-specific knowledge management solutions. For his accomplishments in the creation of the West km business, Bill was co-recipient of Thomson Legal & Regulatory's President's Award for innovation. Bill was on the executive team which completed the acquisition of Elite Information Group, a former competitor to ProLaw Software, and led the product strategy team during the integration transition which combined Elite and ProLaw to create the Thomson Elite business unit. Bill continued in a consulting role with the Thomson Corporation as Chief Strategist, Practice Management Products until 2004.
Joining the founding team at Verge was Bill's route to return to startups. Bill focuses on helping founding teams build successful companies. Bill is actively involved in some of the hottest startups in New Mexico, including boomtime, Exemplify, AttachedApps, Nuvita and SportXast.
David L. Durgin Mr. Durgin is a founding general partner of Verge Fund and also serves as a Partner in Phoenix-based Valley Ventures third venture capital fund. He was a founder and president of Quatro Corporation, New Mexico's first technology commercialization company and he founded Quatro Ventures LLC which is an “angel” investment company he spun out of Quatro in 1995.
Durgin has helped start up, finance and manage more than 20 New Mexico high tech companies of which several have been sold or taken public. He has held virtually every executive position in these companies including Chairman of the Board, Director, CEO / President, CFO and Vice President. Also during the last 10 years, Mr. Durgin evaluated more than 500 business opportunities in New Mexico and provided literally hundreds of hours of pro bono assistance to entrepreneurs, start-up companies, and state and local economic development initiatives. He has served as a member of the New Mexico Governor's Technical Excellence Committee, been a Founder, Officer and Director of Next Generation Economy Corporation and has served as an Advisor and Sponsor of the Technology Ventures Corporation's New Mexico Equity Capital Symposium.
Durgin has 45 years experience as an electrical engineer, technical project manager, technical business developer, business executive, entrepreneur and investor. He designed, developed and manufactured advanced electronic systems for nuclear and conventional weapons at Sandia National Laboratories and was nationally recognized as an expert on mitigating the effects of nuclear environments on aircraft and missile systems. During the Cold War, he successfully built large, profitable system analysis, design and development businesses at BDM International and Booz Allen & Hamilton. At BDM, he was a Vice President responsible for managing over 200 people and numerous multi-million dollar projects. Durgin was hired as a Partner at Booz Allen & Hamilton, where he started and grew the Defense and Energy Technology Division of which he became the Managing Senior Partner. He is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of New Mexico State University with a B.S.E.E. degree. He was selected as a Centennial Outstanding Alumnus by New Mexico State University (NMSU) and is an Outstanding Alumnus of the NMSU College of Engineering. He serves on the Board ofTruTouch Technologies and Vibrant.
James R. Higdon Mr. Higdon has 30 years of direct operating experience in a variety of technology businesses, including smaller firms and publicly traded companies. Mr. Higdon was a Special Limited Partner in Verge I & 1.5, and continues in that role, working with select portfolio companies on a limited basis. Prior to Verge Fund, Mr. Higdon was Chief Executive Officer of CVI Laser Corporation, successfully completing the sale of CVI to a large private equity fund in 2003. CVI is a world leading manufacturer of the highest quality laser optical systems, providing optical components to the majority of laser system manufacturers throughout the world. CVI has been one of the largest and most successful technology-based companies headquartered in New Mexico with about 200 employees in Albuquerque and 400 employees worldwide. Mr. Higdon joined CVI in 1992 and provided leadership in building the company from a good, small optics shop focusing on the research market to a world leading optics manufacturer in key market niches such as ultra-violet optics for semiconductor lithography systems and contract opto-mechanical manufacturing services for large laser system companies.
Prior to joining CVI, Mr. Higdon had 20 years of experience in the management of technology-based companies. His experience is in the areas of business and product strategy, corporate finance, cash flow and cost control, manufacturing efficiency, manufacturing planning and budgeting in a multi-facility, multi-national environment and strategic acquisitions. Immediately before relocating to New Mexico Mr. Higdon worked in Silicon Valley where he was Chief Financial Officer of a NYSE listed medical electronics company, Diasonics. He was, slo, Chief Financial Officer of a privately held analog semiconductor manufacturing company in California, Micro Power Systems. Mr. Higdon devoted the initial 14 years of his professional career to increasingly responsible management positions at a large electronics manufacturing company, Texas Instruments. He was, at different times, the senior financial and planning officer for business groups in the consumer electronics and resource exploration businesses with annual sales in excess of $250 million. Mr. Higdon holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Houston with a major in Economics. He earned a Master of Science degree in Industrial Administration from Carnegie-Mellon University where was a Mellon Fellow. Mr. Higdon also holds a Certified Public Accountant certificate. Mr. Higdon represents Verge on the board of directors of ZTEC instruments.
Ron J. McPhee After studying computer engineering at the University of New Mexico, Mr. McPhee founded HealthFirst Corporation in 1990, and served as its CEO from inception until the sale of that company to Polar Electro in 2000. HealthFirst, now Polar HealthFirst, is a leading global developer of health management software and web-based solutions used in health care, government, health and fitness centers and fortune 500 companies. While serving as CEO, Mr. McPhee originally built HealthFirst as a services business, leading the company to profitability in revenues in excess of $1 million in the first two years. In 1994, recognizing the greater business leverage in a products-based model, Mr. McPhee successfully led HealthFirst through the difficult transition from a services company to a products company. HealthFirst regained profitability in 1995, and enjoyed triple digit revenue growth through the late 1990s.
In September of 2000, Mr. McPhee negotiated the sale of HealthFirst to Polar Electro OY, the world leader in real-time fitness and cardiovascular monitoring devices. After the acquisition by Polar, Mr. McPhee continued to serve as CEO of the HealthFirst division and became a senior member of the North American mangement team ultimately responsible for all sales under the Polar brand in the United States. He grew HealthFirst revenue by 48% per year, established HealthFirst sales into 12 other countries and grew Polar US revenue in excess of 15% annually over the next four years.
Building on his health management experience, McPhee founded Nuvita in 2006. Nuvita is a technology services company focused on reducing health care related costs by reducing the claims associated with lifestyle related disease. In addition, McPhee is the Chairman of the Board of AltaView Technologies and on the Board of Boomtime. He has been a partner of Verge Fund since its inception.
In 2007, Mr. McPhee, along with Mr. Bice and another partner, purchased and refurbished the historic J.S. Brown Building in downtown Albuquerque to become a new, long-term home for the Partnership, the previous Verge funds and several portfolio companies. Re-branded as the Verge building, it provides three important services to the previous Verge funds and to the Partnership: (1) it creates a close working environment between the Principals and the portfolio investments, allowing for the Principals to efficiently work with those companies on a day-to-day basis; (2) it creates a high-energy, entrepreneurial environment conductive to the creation of technology start-up companies; and (3) it provides strong leverage for the Fund's investments by cutting the costs in time and money required for a company to get started and keep growing during its critical early phases, allowing for the Fund's dollars to be focused on building enterprise value.
Dr. H. Raymond Radosevich Dr. Radosevich, a founding partner of Verge Fund, has four degrees including a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, M.S. in Industrial Engineering, M.S. in Industrial Administration and a Ph.D. For 30 years he was a professor, associate dean and dean in the field of management. In 1980, he was the Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to establish the University of New Mexico Technological Innovation Center, an organizational experiment to commercialize technology from the national laboratories and universities in New Mexico. Dr. Radosevich established and became President and Chairman of the Board of the New Mexico Technological Innovation Program, Inc. (NMTIP), a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation that provided business start-up assistance to spin-off companies in exchange for equity. The companies assisted by NMTIP raised more than $33 million in seed capital over a five-year period. Dr. Radosevich was involved in many of the infusions, frequently serving on the Boards of Directors.
From 1985 to 1988, Dr. Radosevich served as the Dean of the Robert O. Anderson Schools of Management at UNM. He was a Director of VAWTPower, Inc., a publicly-held corporation in New Mexico that manufactured vertical axis wind turbines under a technology transfer agreement from Sandia National Laboratories. He was also a Director of Pulse Systems, Inc., and Quasar International, Inc., spin-offs from Los Alamos National Laboratory and a Director of General Energy Technologies, Inc., which was founded by a scientist from the Department of Defense's Phillips Laboratory. He founded the New Mexico Entrepreneurs Association and in collaboration with the city of Albuquerque, planned and assisted in the launching of the city's first incubator, the New Mexico Business Innovation Center for which he served as the Chairman of the Board. He is currently a Director of Wellkeeper, Inc. and Avasca Medical, Inc., and represents Verge as an observer on the board of Intellicyt, Inc.
While on sabbatical during the 1990 academic year, he served on the Department of Energy (DOE) Technology Transfer Field Task Force and was responsible for providing first-draft versions of a number of key issue papers from which DOE's technology transfer policies have evolved. He was a consultant to DOE for nine years. He has also been a consultant to dozens of major corporations around the world. Dr. Radosevich is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 10 books and monographs (including From Lab to Market: the Commercialization of Public Sector Technology with Suleiman Kassicieh in 1994). He is currently a Special Limited Partner of Valley Ventures II and III in their New Mexico office. He serves on the Boards of Intellicyt and Wellkeeper.
Thomas J. Stephenson Prior to co-founding Verge Fund in the Spring of 2003, Mr. Stephenson had been a General Partner of various funds of Murphree Venture Partners. He joined Murphree Venture Partners in 1997 to open their New Mexico office after serving as the Director of Education and Research for the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), a world-recognized leader in fostering the development of high-technology start-up companies. At ATI, he prepared entrepreneurs for raising angel and venture capital, evaluated businesses for entry into the incubator and provided business consulting to ATI companies. Stephenson served as an invited speaker to the National Business Incubation Association's National Conference, and assisted the Russian Academy of Market Management's Morozov Project in the formation of six pilot incubators in that country by providing on-site advice, generating local government support, and authoring their "Incubator Operations Manual."
Prior to receiving his M.B.A. in Information Management and Technology Transfer from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, Stephenson was a member of the science department faculty at his prep school alma mater, the Albuquerque Academy, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While completing his B.A. in Physics at Rice University, he worked as a technical aide at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Stephenson represents Verge Fund on the Board of Directors of Altaview, Altela, Metaphor, Nanocrystal, and Wellkeeper. He also serves on several non-profit Boards of Directors, including the New Mexico Technology Council (formerly NMITSA); the New Mexico Venture Capital Association; the Coronado Ventures Forum; and the Association for Commerce and Industry. He is a graduate of the 2000 class of Leadership New Mexico.
Paul Short Mr. Short holds BS and MS Electrical Engineering degrees from New Mexico State University, and held positions as an engineer with NMSU’s Physical Science Laboratory then as a principal engineer with Honeywell. He went on to found InnovASIC, a design services company that developed integrated circuits for other companies. He then successfully evolved the InnovASIC business model from a services firm to a semiconductor product company that designs, manufactures (through outsource), and sells integrated circuits, growing the company to over $5 million in revenue during a period of industry contraction. He is founder and CEO of Metaphor Computing.
R. David Franklin Mr. Franklin was co-founder, CEO and Chairman of Santa Fe-based Strategic Analytics Inc. until its sale to Verisk Analytics (NASDAQ: VRSK) in early 2010. Prior to his experience in New Mexico, Mr. Franklin was Managing Director at McLagan Partners, a leading management consulting firm to the financial industry. He also worked as a financial analyst in Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Finance at Morgan Stanley & Co., Incorporated. Franklin completed his undergraduate work at Yale and received an MBA with Honors from NYU's Stern School of Business.
Mr. Franklin is also a member of the board of the Santa Fe Business Incubator (http://www.sfbi.net/), a leading non-profit facility that houses and supports emerging businesses in the Santa Fe area, and has served as a director of Coronado Ventures Forum (www.cvf-nm.org) since 2006.
Amanda Giannini Ms. Giannini is currently working on her BA in Economics at the University of New Mexico. She joined the fund as Director of Operations in March 2007. She previously worked for the law firm, Bannerman & Williams, PA as a Bookkeeping Assistant and Billing Specialist. Ms. Giannini has over 7 years of bookkeeping, accounting and operational experience. She is a member of VCOMA, Venture Capital Office Manager’s Association, and was named one of 2008 New Mexico Business Weekly’s 40 under Forty.