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William Hambrecht to receive Lifetime Achievement Award in entrepreneurship from UC Berkeley
23 April 2001

By Ute Frey, Haas School of Business


William Hambrecht

Bill Hambrecht, winner of the 2001 Lester Center Lifetime Achievement Award from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business.
Photo by Louis Bacharach

Berkeley - William Hambrecht, the legendary investment banker who brought the world Apple Computer, Genentech, and the OpenIPO, is the 2001 recipient of the Lester Center Lifetime Achievement Award at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business.

The award will be presented by the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the UC Berkeley Entrepreneurs Forum on Thursday, April 26, in the Haas School's Arthur Andersen Auditorium.

"Bill has always been an innovator," says Jerome Engel, executive director of the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. "As one of the first to embed a venture capital firm within an investment bank, he established Hambrecht & Quist as a leader of the emerging west coast investment banking community that came to be known as the 'Four Horsemen.' Now, with his new OpenIPO concept, he has once again changed the rules of the game, creating an innovative and distinctive offering for his new firm, WR Hambrecht + Co."

Hambrecht is best known as the co-founder of the firm Hambrecht & Quist, whose West Coast style investment banking helped launch some of Silicon Valley's greatest success stories. In 1981, the firm managed the initial public offerings of Apple, Genentech, and People Express. By 1997, Hambrecht & Quist had worked with over 700 companies, including Adobe Systems, Advanced Fiber Communications, Apollo Computer, Convergent Technologies, Evans & Sutherland, Read-Rite, Sybase, VLSI Technologies, and Xilinx. Hambrecht even led the IPO of a beer company.

It was the IPO of Boston Beer, maker of Samuel Adams Boston Lager, that inspired Hambrecht to brainstorm the possibility of IPOs that are open to the public. Boston Beer CEO Jim Koch insisted on making 25 percent of the IPO shares available to his market, the people who drank his beer. The idea meant taking a significant portion of the shares away from institutional investors, the industry's mainstay. In addition, opening the IPO to individuals required shipping six-packs to the stores with little forms attached that allowed consumers to make a bid to buy a piece of Boston Beer.

However, the new approach demonstrated its business potential when the $10 million IPO in 1996 was oversubscribed by $30 million - all from individual investors. The question was how to streamline the process. Answer: the Internet.

In 1997, Bill Hambrecht decided to start a new firm WR Hambrecht + Co. that uses the Internet to create an open system for all investors -- from individual consumers to the largest institutional investors -- to have equal opportunities to make bids for IPO stocks, thus the name OpenIPO. The OpenIPO is not only open to small investors, but it is built on a Dutch auction model, where the investors, not the investment bank, set the price.

WR Hambrecht + Co.'s most recent IPO included Peet's Coffee and Tea. Peet's was the fifth Internet-based public stock offering led by WR Hambrecht & Co. in the past three years.

Previous winners of the Lester Center Lifetime Achievement Award include:
Gordon Moore, one of the original founders of Intel, in 2000; Arthur Rock, the original venture capitalist behind Silicon Valley's very first semiconductor company, Fairchild Semiconductor, and Intel, in 1999; and, in 1998, Dr. Alejandro Zaffaroni, who founded Alza Corp. and a series of other biotech companies.