Remembering William (“Bill”) Miller:  A Beacon for Startup Leaders

 

Yesterday, Promeets learned about the passing of William (“Bill”) Miller, a Silicon Valley startup leader and the former provost at Stanford University. He died Wednesday in Palo Alto, CA at the age of 91. Our team would be remiss if we did not take a moment to share with the broader startup world how Bill contributed to the advancement of entrepreurship in Silicon Valley and around the world, as he will undoubtedly be remembered as a true beacon for startup leaders.

Bill was an innovator and entrepreneur who made early contributions to the application of computation in math, science and business. Over his career, he also was a strong business leader, startup and nonprofit founder, Silicon Valley scholar, wildlife conservationist and government adviser, while further serving as a faculty member and administrator at Stanford. A founding member of Stanford’s Computer Science Department, Miller served as provost from 1971 to 1978, guiding Stanford through student protests, overseeing financial reforms and leading a successful fundraising campaign. Later in his career, Miller was an advocate for and scholar of Silicon Valley, who shared his insights with countries throughout the world—particularly, in Asia—to bolster entrepreneurial spirit.

Not only did Bill have incredible business acumen, but he also had the ability to see connections among different disciplines, which became a hallmark of his career and ultimately led him to expand interdisciplinary research and undergraduate education at Stanford. His business savvy also led him to support the financial and intellectual property infrastructure in Silicon Valley. Notably, Bill truly understood that the development of Silicon Valley was as much about culture as it was about technology.

Promeets’ Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), Richard Reed, had the good fortune to meet Bill shortly after moving to Silicon Valley and worked with him on several startups. Reed observed that he was instrumental in transforming the region into the world’s leading tech center, not only as an executive, but as an educator and as a mentor, as Richard knew him. Despite his many accomplishments, Bill was remarkably modest and always made time to give guidance to future startup leaders. He will be remembered as a truly outstanding individual that made helping people achieve their goals a top priority.

A celebration of life is scheduled for Oct. 24 at 4:30 p.m. at the Stanford Faculty Club. Memorial donations may be made to the Wildlife Conservation Network.

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