William Henry Draper, III

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William Henry Draper, III

Birthplace: White Plains, Westchester County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Henry Draper, Jr. and Katherine Louise Draper
Husband of Private
Father of Tim Draper and Polly Draper

Managed by: Alex Bickle
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About William Henry Draper, III


William Henry Draper III (born January 15, 1928) is an American venture capitalist.

Early life and career

Draper was born on January 15, 1928 in White Plains, New York, the son of Katherine Louise (née Baum) and banker, general, and diplomat William Henry Draper Jr. His father founded Draper, Gaither and Anderson. He attended Yale University with president George H. W. Bush, graduated in 1950, the year after George H. W. Bush, and is a member of the secret society Skull and Bones. After graduating from college, Draper served as a second lieutenant in the Korean War. Upon returning to the United States, he attended Harvard Business School and studied under professor Georges Doriot, who is often credited with starting the venture capital industry. Draper graduated with a Masters of Business degree, with distinction, in 1954. He then worked from 1954-1959 as a steel salesman at Chicago's Inland Steel Company.

Early venture capital

In 1959, Draper left Chicago to work as an associate at his father's newly formed firm, Draper, Gaither & Anderson, the first venture capital company on the West Coast. In 1962, Draper left Draper, Gaither & Anderson to co-found the venture capital firm Draper & Johnson Investment Company with his good friend Pitch Johnson, whom he had met while working at Inland Steel. In 1965, Draper founded Sutter Hill Ventures, which to this day remains one of the top venture capital firms in the country. During his twenty years as the senior partner of Sutter Hill, Draper helped to organize and finance several hundred high technology manufacturing companies.In 1986, he became the head of the world's largest source of multilateral development grant assistance, the United Nations Development Programme, and was instrumental in leadership of several global initiatives, such as the international Education for All movement (beginning formally with the 1990 Conference in Jomtien, Thailand), the 1995 Beijing Women's' Conference, and the 1995 Social Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Sabbatical from Silicon Valley – public service

Draper has played an international leadership role in expanding the world economy and the global wealth gap. He served from 1981 to 1986 as President and Chairman of the Export–Import Bank of the United States and was appointed to this position by President Ronald Reagan. In this post, Draper assumed a leadership role in U.S. efforts to sustain world trade in the face of major liquidity problems among the developing countries.

In 1986, he became the head of the world's largest source of multilateral development grant assistance, the United Nations Development Programme. As the second highest ranking individual in the United Nations, Draper oversaw nearly 10,000 international aid projects. During his time at the UN and the Export-Import Bank, Draper traveled to 101 developing countries and met with over 50 heads of state.

Return to venture capital

In 1994, Draper and Robin Richards Donohoe founded Draper International, the first U.S. venture capital fund to focus on investing in private companies with operations in India. In 2002, he co-founded Draper Richards LP, a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage technology companies in the U.S., and he also founded Draper Investment Company, which concentrates on seed investments in Europe and Asia.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

In 2002, along with Robin Richards Donohoe, Draper co-founded the Draper Richards Foundation. Robert S. Kaplan, formerly vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs and currently the thirteenth president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, joined as co-chair in 2010.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation is a global venture philanthropy firm that supports early stage, high impact social enterprises. The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation believes that with early funding and rigorous support, exceptional leaders, tackling some of society’s most complex problems, can make the world a better place. The Draper Richard Kaplan Foundation finds, funds and supports these organizations with three years of unrestricted funding and actively partners with them to help them build their organizations to scale and achieve their mission.

The Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation invests in early stage organizations and is often times the first institutional investor and first “outside” board member for these organizations. They invest in a variety of sectors. Their current portfolio includes organizations working both domestically and internationally helping to provide critical access to healthcare, education, food security, social justice, water and sanitation, transparency and accountability, and shelter.

Since starting in 2002, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation has invested in 96 social entrepreneurs working in a variety of issue areas and their results speak for themselves, as one of the earliest funders of Kiva, Room to Read, GrassRoots Soccer, One Acre Fund, The Mission Continues, Food Corp and many others. Currently, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation is launching their third fund of $65 million to support the next generation of 100 social enterprises that can change the world.

Community service

As a civic leader, Draper has been involved in many community service programs. He is currently on the boards of the Atlantic Council, The Draper Richards Foundation, Hoover Institution, Freeman Spogli Institute of International Studies at Stanford University, World Affairs Council of Northern California, the United Nations Association of the United States of America and the Harvard Business School California Research Center Advisory Board. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the President’s Council on International Activities at Yale University.

Draper formerly served as the Chairman of the World Affairs Council of Northern California, Chairman of the Institute of International Education, as a Trustee of Yale University and as Chairman of the Board of the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco; he was a former Board member of Population Action International, George Bush Library Foundation, the Advisory Council of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the World Rehabilitation Fund in New York. Draper currently sits on the advisory board of Washington, DC based non-profit America Abroad Media.

Personal life

Draper is married to Phyllis Culbertson Draper, and is the father of Timothy C. Draper, a venture capitalist who founded Draper Fisher Jurvetson, as well as Polly Draper and Becky Draper. Polly is an actress and a writer, known for her portrayal of Ellyn on ABC's Thirtysomething. She also created and produced Nickelodeon's series The Naked Brothers Band, which starred her sons, Nat Wolff and Alex Wolff.

Awards and honors

In 1982 Harvard Business School honored Draper with its Alumni Achievement Award, and in 1992 he was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor. In 1996 he received the Citizen Diplomacy Award from the International Diplomacy Council, and in 2002 he received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In 2005 Draper received the Vision Award from SD Forum and was inducted into the Dow Jones Venture Capital Hall of Fame. In 2006 he received the Silicon Valley Fast 50 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Distinguished Service Award from the Institute of International Education. In 2009 Draper received the Global Citizen of the Year Award from International House Berkeley, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Commonwealth Club, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Business Forum, and the Philanthropic Leadership Award from the American India Foundation. In addition, he has received honorary decorations from Bolivia, Morocco, and Samoa and an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, from Southeastern University in 1985 and an honorary M.A. from Yale University in 1991.


William Henry Draper III (born January 15, 1928) is an American venture capitalist.

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William Henry Draper, III's Timeline

January 15, 1928
White Plains, Westchester County, New York, United States
June 15, 1956
Age 28
Gary, Lake County, Indiana, United States
June 11, 1958
Age 30
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, United States