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James Love Barksdale offers living proof that all Silicon Valley entrepreneurs aren't cocky young upstarts faking their way to success. This consummate Southern gentleman, known for his folksy sayings and[…]

Barksdale, on being a philanthropic investor.

Question: Beyond a simple title, how would you describe what you do?

Jim Barksdale: Well now what I do is I’m a philanthropic investor.  And I invest primarily in early childhood education and services.  I spent quite a bit of time and money on the subject of early literacy.  What I did in my business career, I would describe as I applied systems . . . solutions to large business problems.  I was in at the early days of Federal Express building . . .  I was the Chief Information Officer back then after I’d left IBM and other private businesses.  And I was . . . did that for a while building the worldwide tracking system.  And then I was Chief Operating Officer at Federal Express for about 10 years implementing lots of systems – aviation systems, computer systems, human resources systems – around the world for the company as we expanded it to 129 countries.  I had . . .  By the time I left there was 100,000 people working for me, so I learned a great deal from that experience.  And then I went and ran a largest . . . then the largest cellular company in the world – McCall Cellular out of Seattle.  We sold that to AT&T and I became Chief Executive Officer of AT&T Wireless back in the early ‘90s.  And then I left that at the behest of some people who are now great friends of mine to go with a little startup.  I figured one more bite at the apple, so I went down to Palo Alto in Mountain View, California and became the Chief Executive Officer of a local startup called Netscape Communications.  And we taught the world how to use the Internet with the browser.  And then we sold that to AOL in ’99, and that’s when I basically retired from active business and went on the Time Warner board.  I’m on several boards, both public and private.  I’m Chairman of the Board of the Mayo Clinic out of Rochester, Minnesota.  I’m on other private boards that are interested in healthcare and human services

 Recorded on: 7/5/07

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