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Patricia Cloherty, Trailblazing Venture Capitalist, Dies at 80

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Patricia M. Croherty, the daughter of a logger, was one of the first women to succeed in the high-risk, high-reward field of venture capitalism, and was a major financial backer of start-ups in post-communist Russia. did. her home in Miami. she was 80 years old.

His sister, Judith Croherty Mendel, was confirmed dead.

Croherty, 27, has two master’s degrees from Columbia University (neither has a master’s degree in finance) and spent two years in the Peace Corps spaying pigs on farm children in Brazil. I was teaching At a United Nations event in 1969, she met Alan Patricoff. , an investor who had founded a venture capital firm.

Impressed by her intelligence, he offers her a research analyst job despite her lack of experience in the field.

“He said, ‘Would you like to learn business from scratch?'” 2011 interview Oral history project of the National Venture Capital Association. “I didn’t know what kind of business it was”

Patricoff believed he could successfully answer a fundamental question in venture capitalism.

“She said she had no background in finance,” he recalled in a phone interview. “I told her she could learn it.”

he was right Within two years, Cloherty became his partner at Patricof & Co. Ventures, and held his early positions at Apple, Office Depot, and the company he later became known as AOL. The company grew into a multi-billion dollar international business, of which she eventually became co-chairman and president.

Cloherty was particularly drawn to biotech companies and other high-tech investments, including Agouron Pharmaceuticals, maker of protease inhibitors used to treat HIV. Tessera Technologies, which makes protective packaging for computer chips. PPL Therapeutics, the Scottish company that gave Dolly the world cloned sheep.

of 2013 interview “I’ve been a Girl Scout all my life, and that experience taught me to try to leave better than I found a campground,” she said.

Cloherty left the Patricof firm (later renamed Apax Partners) for about a decade, first to become deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration in Washington from 1977 to 1978, then with Daniel Tessler, whom she married. I ran an investment company. 1977.

The Russian chapter in Mr. Croherty’s career began in 1995 when President Bill Clinton appointed Mr. Croherty to the board of directors of the US-Russia Investment Fund. She became president of the foundation in her 1998. Two years later she moved to Russia, where she planned to stay for six months. It lasted 12 years.

Mr. Cloherty became CEO of an investment fund general partner. Delta Private Equity Partneroversaw the financing of more than 50 Russian companies, including Russia’s first mortgage bank, the first credit card issuing bank, and the first bottled water company, then with what she described as substantial profits. sold most of the

Patricoff attributes a large part of her success to what he called her “Pied Piper quality.”

“She had a unique ability to lead people,” he said.

Donna E. Shalala, former Health and Human Services Secretary, congressman, and president of the University of Miami, who has known Croherty since the 1970s, said in an interview that her friend was “the most curious person I’ve ever met. He was a good person,” he said.

Patricia Mary Croherty was born on July 2, 1942 in San Francisco, the second of four children to John and Doris (Dawson) Croherty. Her father immigrated to the United States from Galway, Ireland as an orphan at the age of 13. Her mother was from Victoria, British Columbia.

Her parents worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad during World War II and ran a dry cleaner in the city after the war.

In an interview with the Venture Capital Association, Cloherty recalled how he first learned to gamble.

Her maternal grandmother used to take care of young Pat and her siblings while taking “her bottle of gin” to the local racetrack to bet on horse races, she said.

“Be careful, we were only 3, 4, 5 years old, so we got on the truck early,” Cloherty explained. “That’s how I was raised.”

When she was five years old, her family moved to Pollock Pines, California, a hamlet half an hour south of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her father had a logging and construction job there. Her mother was a realtor and librarian. The couple also ran a soda fountain.

Cloherty said her family was poor and life in the mountains was tough. But she had a lot to keep one occupied, she said. An avid reader and self-proclaimed “brilliant” student, she is also an excellent athlete and shredded using instructions cut from her wheat packaging to create waterproof matchstick holders, reverberatory furnaces, and more. , and was also an operative creating tents from military surplus parachutes.

I remember being 12 years old and going skiing with two friends with homemade camping gear and being stuck in an avalanche for two days. She had lingering effects of frostbite for over 50 years of her life.

After high school, Ms. Croherty received a scholarship to attend San Francisco College for Women (a Catholic school now part of the University of San Francisco, run by the Jesuits) and received a BA in Spanish Literature and Classical Greek in 1963. got the number.

Around the time she graduated, the Peace Corps was formed, and Croherty decided to join.

But after meeting Baroness Maria von Trapp, patriarch of the Trapp Family Singers, made famous by The Sound of Music, she quickly reconsidered. Von Trapp, who was visiting her in San Francisco, urged her not to go.

“She said, ‘You can’t do that,'” Croherty recalls. “You will become a pawn of American foreign policy and ruin your life.”

After working briefly as the Baroness’s assistant on Von Trapp’s Vermont farm, Ms. Croherty joined the Legion. She was stationed in a remote part of Brazil to train farm families in animal husbandry and other agricultural techniques.

A Ford Foundation fellowship funded her master’s degree in education and international affairs at Columbia University.

In addition to her sister, Ms. Cloherty has a brother, Michael. Her marriage to Mr. Tesler ended in her divorce.

Before moving to Florida in 2017, she lived in an apartment in Manhattan and a Hudson Valley home in Garrison, NY (and an apartment in Moscow for several years). After her retirement in 2012, she continued to informally advise her colleagues until a few months ago.includes her pastime Friends like Shalala often hike near Garrison’s home or in remote locations like the Himalayas and Mexico.

In 1988, Croherty told The New York Times Magazine:

When asked about her business philosophy in a Teachers College interview, she cited one maxim she said applies equally to life in general.

“If you find something appealing, don’t be afraid to take risks,” she said. “Don’t prioritize making money before achieving your goals.”

Alain Delaquérière and Sheelagh McNeill contributed to the research.

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