TitleMusser, Pete oral history
DescriptionPete Musser was the founder of venture capital firm Safeguard Scientifics and Chairman of the Musser Foundation. In this oral history, Musser describes his nearly 70-year career in venture capital/private equity and his role in funding Philadelphia-area technology companies with global impact.
Musser recounts serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II and studying industrial engineering at Lehigh University. He worked as a “student engineer” at Pennsylvania Bell before becoming a trainee at Hornblower & Weeks. Fellow trainee Frank Diamond soon convinced Musser to leave Hornblower & Weeks to cofound a new brokerage firm. In 1954, Musser invested $150,000 in Jerrold Electronics to help fund a cable system in Tupelo, Mississippi. Ralph Roberts and Dan Aaron later purchased the Tupelo system for $600,000 to become part of Comcast. Musser says that without his initial investment in Jerrold, Comcast would not exist.
Musser explains that after purchasing 60 percent of Safeguard Checkwriter in 1955, Lancaster Corp. was renamed Safeguard Industries. In this period, Musser increasingly operated as a venture capitalist in the technology space. Safeguard invested in the pioneering networking company Novell Data Systems. Musser’s firm also became known as one of the first startup “incubators.” Its campus and the companies located there helped to stimulate growth in Philadelphia’s suburban tech ecosystem.
Musser highlights his successful investments, including Coherent Communications Systems Corp., Sanchez Computer Associates, eMerge and especially Internet Capital Group (ICG), whose value exploded during the dot-com boom. However, Musser suffered devastating losses when the boom turned to a bust. He regrouped under the Musser Group and invested in companies such as Nutrisystem, InfoLogix and Sprinturf. Musser closes by discussing his philanthropic involvement with the Boy Scouts of America and the National Museum for the American Revolution.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, Pete Musser passed away a short time after this interview.
|Fralic, Chris, Interviewer|
|Hancock, Marguerite Gong, Interviewer|
|Musser, Peter, Interviewee|
|Stefanik, Derek, Interviewer|
|Weber, Marc, Interviewer|
PublisherComputer History Museum
Place of PublicationPhiladelphia, PA
Collection TitleCHM Oral History Collection
CreditComputer History Museum
|102795137||Musser, Pete oral history|