Former Congressman Ed Zschau, 48, has been named chairman and chief executive of Censtor Corp., a closely held firm based in San Jose that has developed new technology that it says can double the amount of computer data stored on hard disk drives.
Zschau has been a Menlo Park-based general partner of the Los Angeles venture capital firm of Brentwood Associates since January, 1987. Brentwood was the founding investor of Censtor, which has garnered about $30 million overall in five financings from various investors since 1981.
Zschau joined Censtor’s board in February with no plans of eventually heading the company. “The thought was that the board would identify an experienced CEO to manage the transition from a research and development company to a real business,” Zschau said. "(But) as we looked around, we didn’t find the right person.”
An unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate in 1986, Zschau will remain affiliated with Brentwood as a special limited partner. Zschau was the founder and for 13 years the chief executive of System Industries, a data storage systems maker in Milpitas, Calif.
As chairman of Censtor, Zschau succeeds Robert Noyce, who has been elected vice chairman of the company. Noyce, who is also vice chairman of Intel, was recently tapped to head Sematech, the semiconductor industry consortium. As chief executive, Zschau succeeds Tim Martin, a Censtor founder, who continues as president.
Censtor said its perpendicular recording technology, which records bits of data vertically rather than horizontally on the surface of a magnetic disk, permits the design of data storage products with far higher capacities and lower costs than with conventional magnetic recording techniques.
Censtor makes both the disk media and the recording heads, and recently began shipping evaluation units to manufacturers of 8-inch drives, the firm’s first target market.
“This is one of the highest potential investments in (Brentwood’s) portfolio . . . This is our home-run ball,” Zschau said. Revenues currently are “a trickle” but should grow rapidly as customers adapt the new technology, he said.