The gateway to everything entrepreneurial at Cornell University

Rob Ryan ’69

Robert Ryan gained his first experience in Local Area Networking as a Systems Analyst at Lawrence Livermore Lab in the mid-1970s working on the first non-military extension of Arpanet, the precursor to the Internet. He became a principle architect of Dec Net with Digital Equipment Corp. in the late ’70s, then authored the Intel portion of the Ethernet Specification which set the local area network standard in the early ’80s. He joined Ungermann-Bass as Director of Engineering in 1982, leaving in 1983 to found his first company, SoftCom, which was sold to Hayes Microcomputer in 1984.

In 1989, Rob left Hayes with three engineers to found Ascend. Rob served as President, CEO, and Chairman of Ascend, taking it public Friday the thirteenth, May 1994, at $13.00 per share. Under Rob’s leadership, Ascend became the leading manufacturer of Point of Presence boxes (POPS) for Internet providers. Rob describes Ascend’s business as selling the picks and shovels for the Internet gold rush. Ascend has grown from zero sales in 1989 to over 500 million sales in 1996. In 1995, the last year Rob served as CEO of Ascend, the stock was acknowledged as the best performer of the year on all of Wall Street returning a whopping 721% (Business Week, December 25, 1995; pp. 126-127). If you had invested in Ascend two months after the IPO, you would have gained 3,223% one-and-three-quarters years later (Investors Business Daily August 30, 1996; p. A3). At the end of 1995, Rob won the Entrepreneur of the Year award for Northern California (including Silicon Valley).

Rob Ryan’s current focus is his Entrepreneur America facility at Roaring Lion Ranch in Hamilton, Montana. Entrepreneur America is an incubator for high technology startups. In this Rocky Mountain setting, Rob mentors promising entrepreneurs, assisting with focusing product ideas, writing business plans, sharpening presentations, and raising venture capital. The opportunity to acquire shares is the only payment Rob receives. He is currently mentoring startups such as Silithium, Patientkeeper, NetCracker, Actuality and Papilia. Rob can be reached at Roaring Lion Ranch at the address provided above.

Some of Rob’s proudest accomplishments at Cornell are teaching at the Johnson School of Management; winning the CEY (Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year) award in 2002; helping initiate and fund CEN (Cornell Entrepreneurship Network); and authoring “Smartups”, published by Cornell Press.

On a local level , Rob started a booster club in Science and Technology (called STARS) for the area high school.